I get mad when somebody smokes in the open doorway of the train when it stops at a station.
They think by smoking there, they are actually in the open air. They are not and the smoke enters the compartment, no matter which way the wind is blowing.
Now that is a selfish person who couldn’t give a damn about others and is putting himself or herself first. To hell with everyone else.
Selfish driving, selfish parking, and queue jumping. Now, let’s look in the Thesaurus and the list becomes agonizingly long and the shades of selfish are many and varied. Forty shades of selfish!
Then you have the selfish crowd who think you have to be selfish to survive in this cruel world. The rat race is scary so… look after yourself.
This is your number 1 motto. Me first, move over. You might help others often, seldom or never!
I suppose the key is to judge selfishness when you can do minimal damage to others. I can live with that definition.
We could mention really bad examples of selfishness. People who commit a crime, cheat or are dishonest so that they can gain thousands of dollars at your expense are always lurking on the shadows.
But let’s talk about you and me. Don’t click away or scroll down!
Here are a few ways that we are selfish and we may not even realize it! But we may have an agenda too, like the six-year-old. I love Rick Gaber’s quote:-
“Even six-year-olds who scream, ‘You’re selfish!’ have agendas.”
1. Are you always asking for free advice?
You know the coworker who approaches you and says
“Can I pick your brains about…..?”
“I wonder if you’d mind helping me with….?”
Nothing wrong with these requests if there is a quid pro quo. But very often there isn’t and these people are selfish because they give nothing in return.
2. Are you a nagger?
I could easily change that to “Are you nagged?” Now, if this is the question, there are clearly things that really annoy your partner or spouse. That is why you are nagged. It may mean time to think about any selfish acts which are getting up your partner’s nose. This could be anything from forgetting things to leaving a mess wherever you go.
On the other hand, if you are a nagger, you may be displaying a rather obsessive nature. I mean, there may be a few manias or compulsive disorders there and you are giving into them!
The next time you forget something or you complain that there is coffee on the counter, well, think about being less selfish.
3. Are you afraid to give feedback?
So, you are reluctant to criticize or give negative feedback. Why? The reasons may range from a desire to have a quiet life or a distaste for any negative reaction.
You console yourself by thinking you are a charitable soul and you are not hurting anybody’s feelings. Anything for a quiet life.
But this is a selfish act really because you are failing to help a person live a better life or build their confidence by pointing out gently some of their shortcomings. This selfish act may come back to bite you when the failings become a real problem.
4. Are you giving your child a weird name?
I am thinking here of parents who dream up weird, exotic, trendy names for their kids, without ever thinking of the consequences. This is an especially sensitive one when bullies get their hands on a weird name. I have seen recent examples of names like John (for a girl) and Evelyn (for a boy).
These parents never think about how the child will be able to cope with all that. That is selfishness at its worst.
One exception is the girl called Sue Yoo who became a lawyer. This is just a funny example and also reminds us that parents from other countries are unaware of some linguistic subtleties in English.
5. Are you a micromanager?
You know the scene. The boss/parent/teacher/spouse looks after everything and is in control or so s/he thinks!
The sad reality is that this selfishness kills any initiative and ruins creativity, especially in the workplace where real teamwork can lead to brilliant results and high staff morale.
Dr. Mary Casey’s book is called How to Deal With Master Manipulators. It is an eyeopener into how manipulative and basically selfish many people can be.
6. Are you the only person on this planet?
I go slightly berserk when I see a person standing in the doorway of a bar and smoking! They are blocking the entrance and polluting the air as well. An entirely selfish act and it happens a lot in Italy, where I live.
But are we sure we are not talking too loudly on our mobiles? Why must everybody else know our business? They are not interested unless you are planning to murder somebody or rob a bank. Not to mention selfish drivers, the bandits of the highway!
“We must remember that the more self-centered our life is, the more prone we are to unhappiness and frustration.”
― Dr Prem Jagyasi
7. Are you prepared to work in a team?
Share, collaborate, help and work together. It seems pretty obvious. But I had colleagues who refused to be bothered with all that and always worked in isolation.
I had a boss who kept his teacher training materials at home. We were involved in developing materials for teachers and yet this boss never shared his. He was the most hated boss!
I had another colleague who was so secretive and closed that she never shared her ideas or wanted to be involved in brainstorming. She was determined to mark out her territory so she would never do certain jobs. We all thought this was so selfish.
When we complain about all the difficult and selfish people we meet, maybe it is time to look at ourselves and ask the 7 questions above. Some of the answers may surprise us!
“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life, they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” — Unknown.