Can A Self-Centered Person Learn To Think Of Others?

Aries round

I’ve been working with a client who is self-centered. He focuses on his wants and his needs in any and all circumstances. This is a knee-jerk reaction.

He’s young and he’s very bright. He can see he has this tendency and how it’s causing problems in his life.

If a person automatically relates everything to themselves, to their feelings, to their experience, can they come to a point where they’ve had enough of all that?
Can they opt to expand their perspective and find interest in what their partner is experiencing or wants or needs?
Can they train themselves to override their natural tendency?

What do you think?

27 thoughts on “Can A Self-Centered Person Learn To Think Of Others?”

  1. I think that is completely possible. If this person were to create a structure to use in the moment (recognize the self-centered impulse, and substitute with another action or thought).

    Intellectually, this person may find it very rewarding, once he does it a few times. That might naturally reinforce the tendency, after a few times. It’s a lot less boring, once you learn to have an interest in other people.

  2. I think it’s a cultural phenomenon – it can go both ways. I was raised to always put other people first because I’m female, especially in public. When I got my first job, I would not even speak up for myself or compete with a guy – I would just defer and be docile.

    It took a long time to stop. I used to sit, even in therapy, and think about everyone else, and what was wrong with me not being able to be what they want me to be, yet I was clearly the one in pain.

    I learned that it’s important to relate everything back to yourself to figure out where everything is in relation to myself because what other reference do I have? And if I am in a conflict, each person needs to take responsibility, rather than tell the other person that they should or shouldn’t do something.

    Then I went out and discovered again how most of the time people prefer to dump things on others.

    How can they be so presumptive and assume to know what someone else would want? Ask them, then find a way to meet each other in the middle.

    But there are people whose egos are so giant they think there is a certain way to do things and get angry if you do not let them have a bigger slice of pie.

  3. With its neuroplasticity, the brain is absolutely capable of re-mapping itself to where the focus of the individual can change and old patterns can be broken. It takes time, dedication, and professional help/consulting.

  4. It is very hard to train yourself to go against your natural tendencies. It can be done, but I’m not sure that it’s always 100% effective. Though for some of us, you’ve gotta ask yourself, do you want the universe to hand your *ss again, or learn to change?

  5. Oddly enough, the most reliable way to repattern behavior and thought loops is by creating new links of pleasure and pain for the self (the remapping K@ noted). Self centeredness.

    In brief (really brief), you identify the desired changes. You run the script where, rather than the gratification the behaviors are currently associated with, you imagine/experience the deeper anguish of the behavior. Likewise, you run the script for the new behavior and imagine/experience the intense pleasure.

    Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is the buzzword for this science of behavior modification.

    I know Tony Robbins is a bit of a laughable figure with his giant teeth and helicoptors, etc. But I think for the layman, his “Personal Power” writings/program is probably the most accessible and applicable for someone looking to learn to identify and change deeply rooted behavior in themselves.

    There are other books/practicioners out there, but as with any ‘therapy/therapist’, mileage will vary wildly.

    Hope this is at all helpful. 🙂

  6. I have 2 male friends with this tendency.

    One is a double Leo ( Sun and Moon )and the other is a triple fire sign – Aries Sun, Leo Moon and Sag rising.

    No, they haven`t changed in over 20 years, doubt that they ever will.

  7. Yes, I do. I think it requires developing a sense of inner security. From what I’ve witnessed (and felt) extremely self-centred people are survival based. It’s as though they operate in such a way that they believe they’re running on empty. I believe you can overcome this. The means to do so are unique to the individual.

    1. Hello Kashmiri, Thank You for your post. Last night I realized that I am an extremely self centered person and yes, survival based. Been this way starting June 27, 1986, when I graduated from high school and served in the US Navy.

      This characteristic, habit, or disorder, whatever it may be. “IT” has been spiraling me to thinking suicide over the past 60 days. The reason is, I always find myself being destroyed by others who I’ve always used my ways to sincerely help anyone I come in contact with under whatever circumstance. Not help them to be like me or understand me. Nor for any selfish personal gains.

      Here I am six hours later and your post hit me and may have saved my life.


      (You) I believe you can overcome this.
      (Me) AND I WILL

      (You) The means to do so are unique to the individual.
      (Me) And I DO have the means

      Because I’m a Self-Centered person, I will engulf myself in myself, while continuing to bless others. Because when doing so “I LIVE”. It’s just going to requires developing a sense of “inner security”.

      Respectfully and Again Thanks,

  8. That person must want to make the change very very much. I would have this person study the Dale Carnegie book how to win friends and influence people. That would be a very good place to start

  9. for me, it starts with recognizing that other people are fundamentally different from me, and cultivating a curiosity as to what drives them- their goals, needs, joys, fears, sorrows et cetera.

    i think you have to _want_ to connect though. rather than simply looking for gratification

  10. people used to think i was self centered a lot. (i have asperger’s…) what i was was socially awkward, with huge difficulty recognizing people’s unspoken needs (all those hidden social cues) and extreme social paranoia due to years of being pretty defenseless against verbal bullying. i learned how to elicit information in order to connect to people. i learned to look for what i didn’t understand and ask before things blew up in my face. i learned when to walk away from someone and when to dig deeper… *shrug

  11. Need more information. Grew up with two narcissists. They have no desire to change, and so won’t.

    I’m of the camp that if you want to change, you can and will change. Does the person want to change? Do they see how it would benefit them to do so? If not, the hard work of retraining will not be accomplished.

  12. (((eris))) one of my nephews has asperger’s so I do understand your position. You are not alone in the world.

    I agree with krustallos. I have a son that is narcissistic. He can not see that anything is wrong with his position and there for when he has problems that are in direct relation to his narcissism he doesn’t recognize it at all it has to be the other person’s fault. His father, me and all his siblings love him dearly want the best for him but can’t stand for him to be around for any length of time.

  13. I’m with you Jazz.

    No, just no. Humans from birth are pleasure seeking. We all do things that please us in some way or another, even if it’s philanthropy.

  14. A self centered person can think of themselves, thinking of others. Thereby coming full circle to their self centeredness.

  15. I know someone exactly like that. Well according to his ex friend she believes everything revolves around getting his from his friends and connections and doesn’t think much on how he can give to them back. And its a sort of true, its so bad I don’t wan to get into some things. But I think it stems from a lack of motherly support or nurturing when they were young. Because now they are nurturing themselves in this cold manner. Even women in his life are there to nurture him more than what he has to offer. Elsa I wonder if you can find a connection from a negligent or willfully or un-willfully absent mother there? After I spoke against this about him I think he no longer confides in me which begs the trust issue too. Its roots are in trust/abandonment. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  16. I think a person can retrain themselves… if this is something they are aware of. I think ppl who are naturally self-centered aren’t always ‘aware’ of it and may never be… no matter how many ppl they lose along the way.

  17. As many already expressed, I agree that people can develop in thinking about others and being less self-centered. It helps if they’re receptive to relationship; also if the person suggesting it is someone they respect or value; also if they’re young enough to not be very set in their ways.

  18. That is a good question. If the self-centered person is exposed to people who are worth their time, then yes, they can learn to think of others.

  19. Yes, certainly! Just consciousness required. The question, why this is, is absolutely center stage. If a person really wants to know this, and isn’t afraid of going the extra mile…. Whheeeeew…

    What I find interesting is, the question WHEN. How fed up do you have to be to REALLY get started. Maybe, having enough works for one person, but is definitely not enough for you. Maybe, you have to walk the same old circle for years and years until there is real damage and pain? Maybe, you get used to pain and never leap! Are people more resistant to change the more fantasy for lame excuses they have? ((0:

    Been there.

  20. I can only speak to this from my personal experience. I think it’s important to distinguish between self-interest (which we all are motivated by) and excessive self-centeredness. I used to be married to an extremely self-centered guy. Kashmiri’s comment about security really turned on a light bulb in my head – I believe that was exactly what was going on with him. He comes from an EXTREMELY competitive family. He and his brother actually used to “one-up” each other about the amount of snow fall in their respective neighborhoods, as if they could control that or something. My ex could be sympathetic, but his understanding of other people’s emotions was very rudimentary. I suspect, having observed him and his family, that he never really developed this because he, like his mother trained him, always had to be looking out for number one. When I first got involved with my current husband, I was astonished at the experience of not being with someone who only ever thought of himself.

  21. I believe 70% of people can change. My Leo mother is not one of them.

    She’s a totally pompous person and she’s never going to change.

    We use to go on trips together, but after my last trip with her, I decided never to go on another trip with her again. She used those trips to boss me around. All people are to her, are things you use, like a lamp or a chair. And I’m not even kidding on any of my thoughts with this.

    She didn’t even care that I had mental health issues, and just bossed me around and treated me like a bug when I told her I am mentally ill (although I’m taking medication now). Also, she treats you like a 2 year old child if you don’t do what she says.

    So no, some people think everything is about them. Just like there are selfless people in this world, and always will be, there will also always be selfish people.

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