Home / Health and Fitness / Health / How to be less selfish

Health and Fitness

How to be less selfish

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 19 January 2009
A-
A+

Everyone agrees that selfishness is not a good characteristic and that we should think about other people. Before trying to fix it, first we should understand where selfishness comes from and what causes us to act selfishly.

Why are we selfish?

Selfishness is often described as disproportional self-love which reaches the point where it leaves no room for thought for others.

But if a person does not think about others' feelings does it simply mean they're in love with themselves?

During the early stages of development, a child's needs are based soley on the self: feeding, comfort, care, cuddles etc. Over time, as children become more independent, they naturally turn their attention to others through family and school. This development occurs smoothly if the child is surrounded by love and so has enough self confidence to be interested in others. The risk, however, is that children become stuck in the stage of development where everything seems to revolve around them. Selfishness results from an individual's attachment to the memory of a wonderful childhood where the child wanted for nothing. A selfish person does not get pleasure from sharing or showing interest in others, but this does not necessarily mean that they are in love with themselves (quite the opposite).

Can selfishness be cured?

It can always be corrected, but the person must first be aware of their flaw and the consequences it is having. According to Jules Renard, ‘there is only way to be less selfish, and that is admitting you are being selfish.’ Selfishness is a closed circuit. If you communicate with the outside world then it is to fulfil your own needs, so first you need to act in a way that does not consider your own needs. Without being a volunteer for a charity (a somewhat radical approach), start by doing things for your loved ones, people who can recognise your acts for what they are.Taking part in sport can help you open up to the world. For example, martial arts are a good combination of self-concentration and respect for others. If you want to go deeper, psychotherapy can help you to place more value on your environment and self belief.

Selfishness is not all bad

There is obviously a middle ground to find, because it's also important to take time out for yourself every now and then and think about what you want. So keep things in proportion and think about yourself too.

by Sarah Horrocks

You might also like