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Ways to Be Less Selfish

March 12, 2008
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It’s not surprising that many of us can be found guilty for being selfish at times. Afterall, being self-centered is a natural survival instinct we are born with. A baby does not take into consideration how tired her parents are a 2 a.m – the baby thinks only of herself and how hungry she is.

Fortunately as we begin to develop and mature we become more aware of others around us. We notice when people seem sad or hurt or angry. We try to do things that don’t make others feel this way. Yet many of us under the constant pressures of life or reminder of things we do not have and want can lead us back down the road of selfishness.

If you know you are guilty of being selfish sometimes, don’t worry – Most people are. No one is perfect by anymeans! These hints and suggestions below will help you deal with your selfish impulses and let you enjoy the better reward – being considerate of others.

1. Recognize and acknowledge your behavior that is selfish. Do you dump your problems on other people? Do you do things without thinking about how it might make someone feel? Are you impulsive or do you rarely notice what other people are doing? Do you demand credit for work you’ve done or expect a favor in return for helping someone?

2. Ask yourself why are you behaving this way? Maybe a certain person triggers it in some instances. Maybe you are overworked or feel unappreciated. It could be many different factors that are causing your selfish behavior. By examining the situations where you behave selfishly, you can identify what causes you to be selfish. 

3. Brainstorm for solutions. What ways can you deal with the triggers of your selfish behavior? For example, you can choose to surround yourself with people who are less selfish and avoid those who are more selfish. You can talk to your partner about your deep rooted resentment. You can always turn to the possibility of therapy to help you deal with your feelings and behavior.

4. Think about the other people in your life. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes anytime you might be feeling a little selfish. Think of ways you could help them or be more considerate of their needs. Think what their perception might be of you. This will hopefully help you think of them before acting on your next selfish impulse.

5. List unselfish things you can do. Maybe you could call a friend and listen to them without ranting on about your day and let them rant about theirs instead. You could help your partner with a chore, or offer to get a cup of coffee for a coworker. You don’t have to aim for the Nobel Peace Prize – holding the door open for someone who has their arms full is a great way to start being more considerate.

6. Stop keeping score. You should not do nice things for people and expect them to return the favor to you. Being nice because you will get rewarded for it not only fuels your selfishness more, but it also will lead you to disappointment when the favor is not returned. It should not matter to you that you brought your husband coffee twice and yet he never remembers to bring you a cup when he’s getting coffee. If you find yourself keeping score, try to find the under lying cause for this and talk it out with the person you’re keeping score with.

If you are interested in learning more on ways to cope with selfishness, the books below are a great starting point. The Giving Tree is one of my favorite stories about self sacrifice and giving for those we love.

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