Relationships aren’t one-sided. Well, obviously. Yet time and time again, we fall into this pit of self-centeredness. We think that relationships are outlets for ourselves –and merely ourselves. In the context of managing our relationships, selfishness and apathy towards others is a poison that shackles our ability to progress and grow with others.
When it’s not a cardinal sin
Let’s get this clear –talking about yourself is perfectly fine. Sharing your experiences with others, expressing your thoughts or letting out your frustrations are fine too, given a proper context. In fact, some individuals use their personal stories and experiences to inspire others. It’s not wrong; it’s welcomed.
But there has to be a line drawn. Common sense dictates that not every person that talks about themselves constantly is going to be received well. The key difference between a self-absorbed person and a person who shares their being with others (for lack of a better term) is the ability to relate with those in their relationships. Sharing your experiences is great, but it has to relate with others, or at least connect with them on some level. If not, it becomes mere self-centered mush.
Why it’s detrimental?
1) People stop listening to you
Speak in your own world, and you speak alone. There’s a cutoff point where the people you talk to get fed up with listening about your marvelous achievements/plans or your seemingly frustrating problems. Remember, you talk about yourself because you think you are important (and this mentality is fine), but the people you talk to think their lives are important too (and this is fine too). At some point, people are going to stop paying attention to you; they have other things to do then listen to you ramble about yourself. Harsh, yes, but likely to be true.
2) You become less likeable
In the same way you naturally label some people as “selfish jerks” or something similar, you too could be labeled as such. Respect is a subjective matter but, in general, it’s better to be likeable than otherwise. If likeable, people are inclined to take you more seriously and give concessions when necessary. Having a good character isn’t merely for altruism, but it has its practical benefits.
3) Your words mean less
Provided people actually bother to listen to you, your words would still mean less. You could say smart things –brilliant things –but if you lead it with the depiction that you are self-interested, the impact of your thoughts would be less. This is because people tend to lump ideas in categories, and being self-absorbed is a good way to get lumped in the “self-deluded” category.
Getting over it
1) Relate things
If you are going to share your thoughts, find a way to make it relate to others. You are a powerful weapon in your own right, but take caution in hitting the right targets. See how your experiences apply into the lives of others –if they don’t it might be better to keep it to yourself.
2) Perform a mental check
Sometimes we get carried away with ourselves. It happens, and none is innocent in this matter. Every now and then, just take a glimpse at your relationship and see if it’s lopsided. When talking to another, see if the conversation is too centered on yourself. If so…
3) Make it about them too
Some people like to ask back questions to their asker. It’s a simple conversational tool, but it shows your intent in involving the other party. Find out the things that interest a person, or something that makes them proud, and mention it. Let them feel good about the good things they’ve done, and more importantly, let them know you feel it too.
A central theme in all our personal development articles –it’s not about you. It’s about them.