This article was co-authored by Arda Ozdemir, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain. Arda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
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If you're worried about being a self-centered person, that concern shows you've already taken an important step towards change. Change can be tough, though, so if you need more guidance on this journey, we can help. We've put together a useful list of simple things you can try that can help you focus less on yourself and more on the needs of others. Even small changes in your daily life can make a big impact!
1 1 of 12:Focus on listening instead of talking. Download Article
- Give others your full attention and really hear them out. Self-centered people often steer conversations to revolve around themselves and they tend to get bored when the focus isn’t on them. If this sounds familiar, you can break that habit! Give others a chance to speak their minds and do your best to show that you’re really listening. Putting away distractions, nodding, and asking questions are great ways to practice more active listening.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Business ReviewOnline and print journal covering topics related to business management practicesGo to source
- For example, if your friend is telling you about a pet emergency they had over the weekend, put your phone away and pay attention. Nod along and ask a follow-up question like, "I hope Tucker is healing quickly! Is he still at the pet hospital or did you already bring him home?"
- If you start getting bored, gently remind yourself that other people's lives and thoughts are just as important as your own.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Business ReviewOnline and print journal covering topics related to business management practicesGo to source
2 2 of 12:Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Download Article
- Imagining yourself in their situation helps you understand them better. If a friend is telling you about something that happened to them and you just don’t feel engaged, it can help to imagine how you’d feel in their situation. Try asking yourself how you'd feel and what you’d need if you were them. Then, keep those things in mind when you respond to your friend.XResearch source
- For example, if your coworker tearfully tells you that their sister passed away over the weekend, you might find it hard to relate since your own sister is alive and well. To understand your coworker's emotions better, imagine how you'd feel if your own sister died. Then, say something like, "Sally, I'm so sorry. I'm close to my sister and I can only imagine how hard this must be for you."
3 3 of 12:Use fewer “I” and “me” statements. Download Article
- Fight the urge to talk about yourself in every conversation. It’s an easy habit to slip into, but you can’t focus on anyone else if you’re always talking about yourself. Try to actively reduce the number of "I" and "me" statements you make in daily conversation. Studies show that talking about yourself less often can make you happier and healthier, so try reminding yourself of that when the going gets tough.XResearch source
- For example, try asking other people how they’re doing rather than launching into a wordy description about how you’re doing.
- Instead of telling your partner about your day as soon as they walk in the door, ask them about their day first.
4 4 of 12:Learn how to compromise. Download Article
- Self-centered people want everything to go their way all the time. Compromising means choosing to believe another person’s needs and desires are just as important as your own. Instead of demanding your way during a disagreement comes, try meeting the other person halfway so that each person gets some of their needs met.XResearch source
- For example, if your partner wants to go on vacation but you feel strongly that it isn’t in your budget, a nice compromise would be planning a short day-trip or doing something cheap, like hiking or hitting a nearby beach.XResearch source
- Be sure to tell the other person you appreciate their willingness to meet you halfway. For example, you might say, "I really appreciate that you agreed to go hiking this weekend; it means a lot and I think we're going to have a blast!"
- Praising others more often doesn’t diminish your own light. It feels good to take credit for things, especially when you work hard for them. If you notice yourself basking in the limelight a little too often, though, try devoting energy to praising someone else’s achievements. If other people helped you achieve something, don’t take all the credit! Be willing to share center stage with them.XResearch source
- For example, if your boss compliments a project you submitted, don’t forget to mention the hard work your team put in, too.
- Praising others helps you feel connected to them and makes it easier to turn your focus outward.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
6 6 of 12:Let someone else be in charge. Download Article
- Do you always feel like you need to make your voice heard? Try taking a back seat for a change. Let someone else lead the group when you're collaborating on a project. Instead of speaking for everyone in the room during a meeting, let someone else speak their mind. Try to relax and let go of the need to be in charge of everything.XTrustworthy SourceProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesOfficial peer-reviewed and multidisciplary journal for the National Academy of Sciences.Go to source
- If you’re out with friends and the group is debating where to eat dinner, let someone else pick. Focus on having fun instead!
- Making your voice heard is important, too, but try to pick your battles. If there are other constructive solutions on the table, you don’t always have to add yours.
7 7 of 12:Celebrate the success of others. Download Article
- Be excited for them without inserting or comparing yourself. If you’re having a hard time being happy for a friend who just got an awesome promotion, it’s probably because you made the situation about you somehow. Don't worry, this is a mental habit that you can definitely break.XResearch source
- For example, maybe you couldn't help but automatically think about how much you hate your own job. Try to refocus on your friend’s success, congratulate them, and do your best to take yourself out of the equation.
8 8 of 12:Practice gratitude. Download Article
- Challenge yourself to say "thank you" more often. If you don’t feel thankful for the good things in your life, that usually means you feel entitled to them. Unfortunately, this is a pretty self-centered way to look at the world. Instead, try looking for any excuse to show others that you’re grateful for them. Showing gratitude can help you feel more connected to others and motivate you to continue your journey of self-improvement.XTrustworthy SourceGreater Good MagazineJournal published by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, which uses scientific research to promote happier livingGo to source
- You don’t have to make grand gestures to show gratitude. For example, say "thank you" when you get off the bus or make eye contact and say "thanks" when your waiter refills your water glass.
- If you want to get into the habit of gratitude, try making gratitude lists on a daily or weekly basis. Strive to list 5 things that you’re grateful for on every list.
9 9 of 12:Spend more time with friends and family. Download Article
- Studies show that loneliness can make you self-centered. Just being around other people can help you turn your focus outward rather than inward. If you’ve been feeling lonely for a while, though, it can be tough to be more social. If you can, try to force yourself out of your social comfort zone.XResearch source
- Joining a group, signing up for a class, and saying "yes" to invitations more often are great ways to start!
- It’s normal to become self-centered as a response to loneliness. Unfortunately, being self-centered can make you isolate yourself more, which then makes you more self-absorbed. It can become an endless cycle.
10 10 of 12:Volunteer in your community. Download Article
- Helping others forces you to look outside of yourself. Doing volunteer work is an easy way to bring the needs of others to the forefront of your mind. Not only does selflessly giving your time and energy benefit other people, but it helps you, too! You’ll feel healthier, happier, and more connected to your community.XResearch source
- For example, you could volunteer at a homeless shelter or local soup kitchen.
11 11 of 12:Get a pet. Download Article
- A pet can help you learn how to put others’ needs before your own. If you struggle with commitment and understanding the needs of others, a pet can help you work on those things. Consider heading down to the local animal shelter and adopting a pet that needs a good home. Your new pet will be completely dependent on you, so be sure to get one that makes sense for your lifestyle.XResearch source
- For example, if you travel a lot, a fish, turtle, or hamster will probably require less time and attention than a dog.
- If you love going for long walks by yourself, a dog might make a great companion for you.
- If you want a fun, affectionate pet that you don't have to train or teach commands to, a kitten might be a good choice.
12 12 of 12:See a therapist if you’re still struggling. Download Article
- Self-centeredness can be a symptom of depression or anxiety. If you’re having trouble getting rid of your self-centered behavior, don’t assume that you’re a bad person or give up on yourself. Self-centeredness is sometimes a by-product of a deeper issue, like depression or anxiety. A therapist can help you understand what’s going on and provide much-needed support.XResearch source
- Feeling compassion for yourself doesn't make you selfish! It's important to take care of your mental and emotional well-being.XTrustworthy SourceGreater Good MagazineJournal published by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, which uses scientific research to promote happier livingGo to source
- QuestionCan a self-centered person change?Arda Ozdemir, MAArda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
Life CoachLife CoachExpert AnswerYes! If you're not sure where to start, try doing some random acts of kindness. You could volunteer to pick up a friend from the airport, grab your roommate a coffee for no reason, or pick your significant other flowers.
About This Article
Being less self-centered involves paying more attention to other people and trying to see things from their perspective. When you talk to someone, try to listen and ask questions more than you talk about yourself. While they're talking, show you're listening by nodding your head and summarizing what they've said after they've finished talking. If you want to learn about other people, read a book to see someone else's perspective, watch a documentary, or talk to strangers at a club or social event. Another great way to be less self-centered is to volunteer your time at a non-profit organization, which will give you a new perspective and let you give back to your community. For more tips, including how to swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it, read on!
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