The Difference Between Self-Centeredness, Selfishness, and Self-Awareness

Self-centeredness, selfishness, and self-awareness are all completely different.

Contrary to what many may believe, being self-centered is not the same thing as being selfish. Self-centered people tend to grab the focus of a conversation and make themselves the center of attention. These people can sometimes make you wonder why you bother sharing information with them as they always inevitably turn things around and make everything about themselves. While this may be true, this does not mean that they are selfish. Clinical psychologist Dr. Margaret R Rutherford gives examples of what a self-centred person might say in a conversation:

“Oh, I’m so sorry your mom has cancer. That’s horrible. I’m sure you’ll be taking her for treatments, but does that mean that you won’t be able to keep carpooling?” OR “Wow, congratulations! I’m so happy you’re going to have a baby. It took me four years and so much money for infertility treatment. I wouldn’t know what it feels like to do it all naturally.”

Being self-centered is different from being selfish.

Someone who is selfish puts themselves first no matter what. This means that they ignore the needs and wants of others and tend to feel little empathy. Admittedly, selfish people are self-centered but this does not mean that self-centered people are selfish. Put differently, a self-centered person still has the ability to show care and compassion even though they often tend to grab the focus and attention.

What is self-awareness?

Being self-aware means being aware of your own needs and wants and treating them with as much consideration as the needs and wants of the people around you. In other words, you do not always put yourself first but you still do keep your needs and wants in mind. It is important to note that Dr. Rutherford explains that it is vital that when putting others first, you still take care of yourself. She notes that although sometimes this can be difficult because someone else’s needs take priority, one should always find the time to pay attention to their own needs.

Self-awareness means self-love.

If as a child, you were constantly told that your needs are not important, you may have grown into an adult who does not practice self-care often enough. In reality, you should know that you are just as important as everybody else. To realize this, you should dig deep and figure out why you believe your needs do not matter. When you understand why you think this, begin working hard on learning how to show yourself compassion and care.

Being self-aware is not being selfish or self-centered. All it means is that you can recognize when you need to pay attention to your own needs and wants. Dr. Rutherford notes that “in order to achieve true happiness in life, sometimes it is important to put yourself first, and do things that make you happy, and makes your heart sing.”

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