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What’s The Difference Between Self-Centeredness, Selfishness, and Self-Awareness?

Difference SelfCenteredness Selfishness SelfAwareness

So this is what you heard from people who were supposed to be taking care of you.

“Nobody asked you.”

“You shouldn’t be hungry, we just ate.”

“You need to call and tell your friends your birthday party is off. Mommy’s tired.”

This often occurs in families where there’s abuse or neglect, where parents have a rigid, authoritarian style of parenting, or where secret addictions were present.

You were consistently handed out subtle (and not-so-subtle) messages that if you wanted or needed something, it didn’t matter. You learned that your needs came after others and that you needed to stifle your desires and put others first.

And you continue that belief into adulthood.

But the fact is, you’re as important as everyone else.

Three things you can do to try self-awareness on for size…

So what can you do if you struggle with knowing the difference between, self-centeredness, selfishness, and being self-aware?

1) Confront your own “selfish” label.

Ask yourself this: Would you tell someone else that they were being selfish if they took a walk for an hour instead of doing laundry?

No. You wouldn’t. Usually, when you apply to yourself what you would say to someone else, you have to laugh at the irrationality of what you’re thinking.

Related: 3 Things You Need To Start Believing in Yourself

2) Understand that being self-aware can increase the likelihood of vulnerability.

When you turn your attention on yourself, either through calm thought and meditation or through paying attention and even nurturing yourself, pain can emerge. You’re giving yourself the message that you’re important — one that maybe you never received before or didn’t receive appropriately.

You have to be ready for that. You might not be accustomed to feeling vulnerable. Or sad. Or angry.

3) Risk doing something, at least once a week, that’s just for you.

Even if it’s a small thing, like taking 30 minutes to sit down and read, driving out in the country, or calling a friend.

Gifts to yourself don’t have to be big to make a big difference. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s so worth it.

Because you’re worth it. 

Check out Dr. Margaret Rutherford’s bestselling book Perfectly Hidden Depression on Amazon. Her book will be translated into seven different languages and will be available this year.


Written by Margaret Rutherford
Originally Appeared In Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Being selfish is different, and being self-aware is entirely different. Just because you are prioritizing yourself for a change, that does not make you selfish or self-centered in any way. In order to achieve true happiness in life, sometimes it is important to put yourself first, and do things that make you happy, and makes your heart sing.

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What’s The Difference Between Self-Centeredness, Selfishness, and Self-Awareness?
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Dr. Margaret R Rutherford

Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, has practiced for twenty-six years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Earning the 2009 Arkansas Private Practitioner of the Year award for her volunteer work at a local free health clinic, she began blogging and podcasting in 2012 to destigmatize mental illness and educate the public about therapy and treatment. With her compassionate and common-sense style, her work can be found at https://DrMargaretRutherford.com, as well as HuffPost, Psych Central, Psychology Today, The Mighty, The Gottman Blog and others. She hosts a weekly podcast, The SelfWork Podcast with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And her new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression, is published by New Harbinger and available at Amazon, Barnes, and Noble or your local bookstore.View Author posts