People give Kim Kardashian a lot of crap for being self-centered (and it doesn't help that the book of selfies she released is literally called Selfish), but according to science, we should cut her some slack. Why? Because everyone is self-centered. You heard me: Everyone. In a recent interview with science magazine Nautilus, University of Chicago behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley, author of the book Mindwise, says people are naturally ego-centric because they are experts on themselves — but it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, there are a number of reasons being wrapped up in yourself (within reason, of course!) actually might be good for us.
In the Nautilus interview, Epley describes self-centeredness in terms of expertise:
The reason is is that you look at yourself with just a different lens than other people do. You are, after all, an expert about yourself... What does expertise allow you to do? If you’re an expert physicist for instance, you can notice all kinds of small minute details that nobody else can notice...the same thing is true with yourself. You’re an expert about yourself — you saw yourself yesterday; you know what you look like when you go out to a party versus when you just get up in the morning out of bed; you know so much about yourself.
Even from a non-scientific standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, you are born into your single body and spend your entire life with... well, yourself. Understanding yourself, presenting yourself to other people, contributing to the world using your talents and passions, and worrying about what other people think of you are just some of the ways you are constantly engaging with Me, Myself, and I.
And according to Epley, viewing self-centeredness as a form of expertise shows that to be self-centered is to be good at understanding yourself. While there certainly are unhealthy forms of self-centeredness — unchecked narcissism, for example — knowing yourself inside and out definitely has benefits, so maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge people who kind of dig themselves.
Here are just a few reasons it's perfectly fine to be a little bit self-centered — as long as you remember to consider other people, too.
1. Narcissism is associated with a strong sense of well-being.
Some studies suggest that narcissism is linked with the desire to make friends. This means that people who are narcissists often have high social and emotional intelligence, which can translate to having elevated priorities with regards to protecting themselves and their health.
2. Being self-absorbed can also help you not care what other people think.
Though a lot of research about narcissism suggests that it stems from a deep desire to please other people, a 2010 study showed that college students who are even moderately narcissistic aren't as worried about having their bodies on view while exercising in public spaces as students who weren't narcissistic. Ultimately that's a beneficial thing, because it allows people to focus on their health and wellness without being deterred by what others may think about them.
3. Narcissism can make you... sexier?
Psychologists have found that narcissistic people are considered more likable, attractive, and exciting compared to non-narcissistic people. Think about it: Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl, Damon Salvatore from Vampire Diaries, Schmidt from New Girl, Shane from The L Word... These characters might be narcissistic, but they also have a lot of charisma as a result of their narcissism. And it's kind of
4. Narcissism might make you creative and a good leader.
Leaders are often narcissists according to some sources, because to lead a company, you have to be bold and confident in your decision making skills. These decisions also need to be smart and creative, especially in our current world where there are a million different companies cranking out a million different ideas. A good leader with somewhat narcissistic tendencies can help their company or organization stand out from the crowd.
5. Being self-centered can help us build stronger relationships with other people.
Though it seems counterintuitive, a healthy amount of narcissism can make you less dependent on your relationships — and, therefore, a better partner, largely because thinking you're hot stuff might prevent you from breeding insecurity.
Of course, though, the key here is moderation. Being a little wrapped up in yourself might have some benefits... but it's still worth considering how your actions affect other people, too. But hey, if reasonable amounts of self-centeredness can lead to good things? Then go ahead and show yourself a little extra care. Who said it was bad to love yourself?