9 Ways To Know If You’re A Selfish Person, And What You Can Do To Turn It Around

Humans are evolutionarily programmed to look out for themselves. That being said, in modern-day society, it’s also pretty important to ask yourself the question, “Am I a selfish person?” There’s a very fine line between “watching your back” and “continuously and unknowingly stabbing everyone within a ten-foot radius in theirs.” If you’ve ever found yourself experiencing a little trouble in locating that line, it's best to check in with yourself from time to time.

Thankfully, as with every category of self-help, the ball is always in your court, so if you decide you need or want a little help when it comes to selfless behavior, improvement is never too far off. In fact, the biggest and hardest step is admitting that you could stand to better yourself. In my opinion, if everyone turned around and said, “Yeah, I could do with a few lessons on compassion,” every single person they came in contact with would be able to reap the benefits. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of some of the most telling and noticeable signs of selfishness, as well as some foolproof tips and tricks that you can use to overcome it — all in the name of altruism and healthy relationships.

You Have Trouble Understanding What Constitutes Selfishness In The First Place

The Selfish Gene, $11, Amazon

Yes, selfishness arose out of a need for survival, but then again, so did compassion; humans as a species most likely wouldn’t have survived without their ability to form societies. The international best-seller The Selfish Gene examines selfishness through the lens of natural selection, but it also observes it with social biology in mind. Richard Dawkins constructs a brilliant narrative (one that's held true for more than 30 years) that touches on society and morality from a scientific standpoint — like if bees make sacrifices to protect the well-being of their hives, then humans are definitely capable of putting others before themselves sometimes.

(Psst! Listen to this title on Audible on a free 30-day trial, and get two free audiobooks.)

You Freak Out When You’re Not In Control

Losing Control Finding Serenity, $13, Amazon

Taking control is often seen as a respectable quality (especially when it comes to professional settings), but if every single thing you encounter needs to be 100 percent moderated by you, you’re essentially telling other people their input and needs aren't important to you. Losing Control, Finding Serenity is a great resource for all perfectionists who feel the need to oversee every last detail. Daniel Miller uses psychological insights, real life stories, and spiritual wisdom to help readers pinpoint their excessive need for control. The book guides readers away from criticizing and obsessing, and towards living in a mindset of peace. One reviewer says, “I’m an avid reader of self-help books, and this one is the best I’ve seen for people with control issues.”

You Have Some Serious Trouble With Collaboration At Work

Collaborative Intelligence, $18, Amazon

Much like the controlling issue, collaboration requires the ability to listen, compromise, and accept, and an inability to do so might indicate selfishness. Especially in a world that’s filled with brilliant, head-strong people, Collaborative Intelligence is an essential read for anyone who works in a social setting. Written by neuroscientist Dawna Markova and CEO Angie McArthur, this book is a culmination of more than 50 years of original research. It shows why collaboration is so paramount to emerging businesses, and how one can go about getting people to think together — no matter how diverse their patterns of thought. It’ll also give insight into your own respective reasoning, as the book observes and dissects the 12 thinking patterns that humans experience.

(Psst! This title is also available on Audible.)

You Blame The World For Everything

Radical Acceptance, $11, Amazon

“It’s not my fault” seems like a pretty standard excuse, but when that no-blame mentality seeps into every aspect of your life, it’s time for a change. Taking responsibility is actually unbelievably liberating, as wanting people to change doesn’t make them do so — it can just make you bitter. Radical Acceptance is a book inspired by the teachings of Buddha that prompts everyone to accept all that is, so that blame and criticism can no longer cause you to feel disappointed, let down, or victimized. Dr. Tara Branch creates an accessible and insightful narrative that opens readers’ eyes to just how often suffering is really self-inflicted, so you can move past it with self-compassion and mindfulness.

(Psst! This title is also available on Audible.)

You Constantly Want More, Even If You Have Everything You Need

Choosing Gratitude, $10, Amazon

If you’re never happy with what you already have, your main concern will always be getting more, and the needs of other people will inevitably get put on the back burner. Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a book all about choosing to see your blessings because no matter who you are, they’re there — you just need to realize them. This book challenges and equips the reader to be thankful for the seemingly insignificant things that can pile up to create a life of joy and acceptance, so you can find your happiness exactly where you are.

(Psst! This title is also available on Audible.)

You Find It Impossible To Forgive Past Hurts

Forgive To Live, $14, Amazon

If you’re still mad at that kid who broke your gingerbread house in third grade, I can assure you, that grudge is hurting you far more than it’s hurting him. Forgive To Live is a book that acknowledges how often we’ve been told to forgive and forget, but without ever really having been taught how. Dr. Dick Tibbits guides the reader through clinically-proven steps, activities, and tools to diffuse anger and let things go, so you can improve your life on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level. Those who have read it say that it’s life-changing, and it's easily one of the most outstanding and realistic books on the subject.

Every Social Gathering Begins And Ends With Your Complaining

The Art Of Empathy, $15, Amazon

While the occasional rant is cathartic, constant complaining is a very slippery slope. It’s a dangerous habit from a psychological standpoint, and your friends will get sick of it real fast. Empathy is an awesome tool to stop complaints dead in their tracks, as the ability to see things from another’s perspective cultivates selflessness, inspires an I-don’t-have-it-so-bad mentality, and allows you to see things from your challenger’s point of view. The Art Of Empathy is a brilliant book by Karla McLaren that teaches you how, exactly, to feel others’ emotions as if they were your own, and radically improve your relationships, awareness, and happiness in the process. Reviewers have called this book “Wonderfully insightful” and “A book of the future,” and if you’re looking for a deep connection to both yourself and other people, this one’s a must-read.

You Have Trouble Feeling Empathy In Relationships

Goodbye Worries Guided Meditation CD, $13, Amazon

It turns out that empathy isn’t just a matter of upbringing and background. The ability to feel others’ pain is actually hardwired into your brain, and a new study shows that meditation increases brain activity in areas associated with compassion and empathy. Goodbye Worries Guided Meditation CD is easily one of the highest selling meditation audios on Amazon, and that’s because it trains your mind to effortlessly relax into a meditative state of calmness and well-being. It includes five different tracks of varying lengths, including an introduction, relaxation meditation, and breathing and music meditation, which help with sleep, stress, acceptance, and negative thoughts. Reviewers love the narrator’s relaxing voice and practical language, and it’s highly recommended by both novices and experts alike. Plus, since you’re hollowing out meaningful time for yourself, cultivating empathy, and learning to provide your own self-acceptance, your relationships will definitely benefit.

You Can’t Seem To Fit Friends Into Your Schedule

Action Day Planner, $22, Amazon

It’s one thing to reserve a portion of your day for yourself. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to cultivate self-esteem and happiness, but if every hour of your time is designated “me time,” relationships and responsibilities will suffer. This awesome day planner is specifically crafted with efficiency and goal-setting in mind. It has a diary section, a tasks section, a goals section, and a collaboration section, and can be used on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis. It’s durable and practical, so you can bring it anywhere, and it’s the best tool to make the most out of your time. Finally, you can juggle your own responsibilities and still find time for the people around you. Also, remembering your friends’ birthdays is always a plus.

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