“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” Benjamin Franklin
Self-absorbed people have a habit of focusing on their own issues, problems and stories to the detriment of themselves and others. Being so self-centered, they tend to blow problems out of proportion, create unnecessary drama, dominate conversations with their stories, and push people away with a constant need for attention.
Family and friends quickly tire from expending energy listening and problem solving while not having a chance to share their own stories and experiences. This can lead to pain and loneliness for the self-absorbed person, as they lose important people from their life.
So what can an extremely self-focused person do to balance the situation and create healthier relationships with others? They can heal their desperate need for attention and approval, and they can learn to focus more on others.
Heal the Need for Attention and Approval
Self-absorbed people crave attention and approval. This could stem from being neglected as a child, not receiving adequate attention, and being disapproved of or criticized while growing up. As a person explores underlying childhood wounds, feels the pain, and processes emotions, they heal the starving need for others’ attention and approval. They learn how to approve of themselves and feel good enough without being the center of attention.
Another reason for self-centeredness can be the opposite of neglect: being spoiled as a child, over indulged, and treated as special above and beyond everyone else in the family. When this happens it becomes a natural habit for a person to have all eyes and ears focused on them.
It’s a sense of entitlement and they feel slighted if others don’t pay close attention. In this case it’s helpful for the person to see this pattern and realize it is out of balance. They may also need to process fears and concerns about not feeling good enough if they stop receiving excessive attention. As they build healthy self-esteem they become less dependent on others’ attention and approval.
Whatever the source of self absorption neglect or over indulgence learning to feel good enough about oneself is key to healing this pattern and moving on to creating healthier relationships.
Learn to Focus More on Others
Dominating conversations with stories, drama and problems is a habit for self-absorbed people. They need to find ways to look at their situations in a more balanced way while learning to listen and pay attention to others at the same time. Here are some suggestions.
- Listen and ask questions. When in conversation with others, spend as much time listening and asking questions of others as you do talking. Notice the urge to jump in with your own story and instead re-focus on what the other is saying.
- Question your motives. When you are about to share a story or complain about a situation, ask yourself why ? Is it for their benefit or yours? Is it to receive attention, vent, or to add something useful to the conversation? Is it appropriate at the time or not?
- Diminish drama. Look at problems and difficult situations from various perspectives. Instead of viewing a problem as a catastrophe, look at it in relation to everything else in your life and in the world. View it from a humorous or lighthearted perspective. Look for opportunities, lessons and growth in difficult situations. Resolve problems without sharing them with others for a change.
- Practice empathy. When upset with another person, instead of judging them and telling others about the situation, be empathetic by imagining what the situation looks and feels like from the other’s viewpoint.
- Bring awareness outside yourself. Notice what is going on with others in the world. Show interest in friends, family and colleagues. Volunteer to worthy causes. Feel gratitude for everything that is in your life by giving thought to the source of food, utilities, clothes, and so on where they come from, how they get to you, how many others are involved in contributing to the creation and process of bringing these useful items into your life.
As a person learns how to stop being self-absorbed by building self-esteem and focusing on others, they reduce drama in their life and create healthier relationships.