Contrary to popular belief, selfishness isn’t all bad. After all, it helps one thrive in this highly competitive world. However, too much selfishness is destructive not only to other people and the environment but also to oneself. If you find yourself being constantly selfish in both words and deeds, then perhaps it’s time for you to reflect and consider these ways that can help you stop being a selfish person.
1. Learn to listen.
Selfish people want to be listened to but rarely do they listen to others. They want the conversation to only revolve around them or their interests. And once others start talking, they immediately show a lack of interest or stir the conversation back to what amuses them. In most interactions, keep in mind that you’re supposed to give as much as you take, so learn to listen to what other people have to say. Give them the same courtesy they give you when you talk. Listen, engage, and wait for your turn.
2. Leave some for others.
Selfish people tend to grab and take everything they get their hands on, leaving others with little to none. They can be seen hoarding all the pudding in the cafeteria or taking more toilet paper than they’ll ever wipe themselves with. Take what you need, plus a few extras just in case, but don’t take everything. Remember that there are people who have the same needs and wants as you.
3. Do not let the end justify the means.
Selfishness is not only confined to one’s gluttonous appetite for tangible things; it also relates to one’s greed for excellence. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to excel and attain merit as long as you do not resort to exploiting others. You should not compel a subordinate to work beyond his limits just so you can fulfill an impossible promise to a client, and neither should you play with an admirer’s feelings just to make use of his/her skills. Pursue your dreams but never at the expense of another.
If you do not want to be selfish anymore, then you must be willing to share the spotlight from time to time. Allow others to speak out and take the lead. Give them the respect they deserve while they’re at it. Force of habit might make this a bit challenging, but with enough practice, you’ll learn to watch and even cheer for others.
5. Regularly reflect on your actions.
The more you reflect, the more you will identify the selfish things you might be doing, whether intentionally or not. This will allow you to carefully monitor your actions in the future, greatly decreasing the chance of you committing the same selfish acts again.
6. Help someone out.
A great way to not be selfish anymore is to perform a selfless act, like helping a friend or a stranger out. If your friend having problems with his work or studies, try to lend a helping hand without demanding or expecting anything in return. If you find a stray dog scraping for food, feed it, or if you can, adopt it (we’ll get more on this later). Assisting others, especially those who are in need, will allow you to see the extrinsic beauty of selflessness as well as feel the intrinsic joy of alleviating the sorrow of others.
7. Volunteer for a cause.
If you want to expose yourself to selfless acts but on a grander scale, then perhaps you should volunteer for a cause. You can volunteer for a group that feeds the homeless, or an organization that rescues stray cats and dogs—it’s all up to you. What’s important is your willingness to spare some of your time, free from any motives or expectations. Again, the goal in involving yourself in gratuitous activities is for you to experience the joy of doing things for others.
8. Get yourself a pet.
A good way to get rid of selfishness is by being responsible for the life of a completely dependent being. Having a pet may not directly counteract your selfish inclinations per se, but it can help you make generosity and compassion a part of your lifestyle. After all, your dog or cat will be completely reliant on your unpaid kindness for it to have a good life. Also, some pets are particularly good at demonstrating absolute selflessness toward their owners, and some of that might just rub on you.
9. Put yourself into other’s shoes.
Sometimes, we become selfish because we fail to contemplate on how our actions might affect other people. For instance, in this pandemic period, we clearly see how buying all and selling them at a higher retail price will benefit. What we fail to realize is the burden and danger we put on other people—all because we lack empathy. Next time you’re prompted to commit a selfish act, imagine yourself being on the opposite side. Hopefully, the thought will help disincentivize and enlighten you.
ALSO READ: 20 Ways to Show Compassion to Others
10. Know that you can change.
If you have been a selfish person for a long time, then chances are other people have already taken notice, and they might have already branded you as an irredeemable selfish person. This kind of stigma sometimes makes people think that they are beyond deliverance. Know that this is not true. No matter how selfish you may have been in the past, you are still capable of positive change. If you believe in yourself and exert the necessary effort, then soon enough, people will see you in a more positive light.
11. Look for a role model.
It is easier to change for the better if we have a point of reference that we look up to. Find a person—someone you know, a philosopher, or even an internet personality—who embodies the non-selfish personality you want to have. Then, make him/her your role model and emulate his/her selfless acts. Who knows, one day, there might be a ripple effect, and you yourself might become a positive role model for someone else.
Nobody is perfect, and selfishness is a common trait given the complexity and hyper-competitiveness of the modern world. However, we shouldn’t allow greed to control our lives. Compassion and generosity should always prevail.