There’s so much focus today on meeting our own needs and wants that it’s easy to get wrapped up in making sure that I’m taken care of. Most people I know wouldn’t tell me they are self-centered, but it creeps into my life and self-centeredness can get out of balance in a hurry. It’s a struggle to keep stability between self and self-centered. Just what are differences and similarities of my “self?”
We can all struggle with making everything about “me” and how it effects “my” life. So, let’s look at some of the characteristics of being self-centered.
- I talk about myself all the time and exaggerate about how everything around me is wonderful and perfect. There’s little to no room to discuss anyone else but me. And I rarely ask anyone else what they think or feel.
- I tend to have elaborate thoughts of grandeur about what I deserve and should have – Because I’m ME! This creates great frustration and anxiety in my world when things don’t work out so GRANDLY.
- I probably believe that I’m better than most other people. This is a great way to hide my own faults and short comings.
- My shallow ego requires constant praise and any hint that I might not be perfect, usually causes rage and deflection.
- My sense of entitlement to have every special favor and wish granted by whomever has the means to do it, is over the top. Think toddler who hasn’t learned they aren’t the center of the universe.
More Self-Centered Self-Talk
- Most relationships are short-lived because I take advantage of those around me. Most self-centered individuals have lots of friends due to their magnetic, larger than life personality but those don’t last long because I just want everyone to talk about and serve me.
- I will envy the gal who has the better house, better husband, better whatever because my ego is so fragile.
- I just LOVE being the center of attention. Nuf said.
- Competitive is an understatement. I love to win and winning feeds the ego and process that I’m better and more accomplished than others.
- I can hold a grudge with the best of them. Even though I come across as confident and secure, truth is, I’m very unsure of myself and use other people’s praise and attention to continually boost my ego.
The list above makes some dark statements about how the self-centered personality feeds itself by feeding off others. You may be able to identify with a few statements above but not 100% of the time. That’s a good thing. This means you’re more in the self-focused group instead of self-centered.
If you see yourself in more than half of the statements above, then there’s some opportunity for improved identity and value redefinition.
A lot of us fall into this category. Our society and world push us constantly to evaluate every situation and how it affects me, my life, by situation. How does my situation measure up to what’s happening to other people? TV gives us a constant stream of what’s happening from politics to weather mostly based on what will keep people tuned in to see the “latest breaking story.” Social media gives us an endless barrage of anyone in the world, how they are succeeding and why they are worthy of this success.
As a practical example of self-focus:
Some time ago, my business partner and I were assisting with decorations, catering and flowers for a small wedding. The wedding was for personal friends of ours and we were giving our time as a gift to them. We had been planning and coordinating for a couple of weeks when they called and told us that a family member had given them a monetary gift that would allow them to have the entire event changed to a different venue that handled all the things we were going to do for them. Most people would say, “Wow, what an awesome gift, I am so happy for you.”
How does this affect me?
- How could someone just suddenly decide to pay for all of this so close to the wedding? Don’t they care effort has been made; that plans have been made already?
- What would this look like to others? Would they think my partner and I didn’t take care of our friends, and so someone had to step in?
- Would my partner be upset, and would I now have to help her through this emotional situation?
- What about my time I had spent, and my schedule that now is all changed?
See how all the statements are self-focused on me and my world. We’re born with this built in “me radar” to detect and evaluate how every situation is going to influence our lives. As babies, this is self-preservation. We cry when we need something, and at that point in our lives we have total dependency on others to fulfill those needs. But as we grow into adolescence and adults, becoming more involved with the bigger world, some people never develop the confidence and understanding of their personal value in the world to scale back their need to always be the winner, be the focus of every group and always desire that their needs are met first before others.
So, if I’m created by God to depend on Him and yet serve others, where’s the balance? How can I make sure I’m not self-centered in my view? That I’m not elevating myself above others and their needs? Or that in any given situation my focus is not just on how it is going to affect my life and me! This is a question that’s been asked for thousands of years. How do I feel confident with who I am and still not overconfident in my ability and desire to change things? These are all great questions.
Avanah is a Hebrew word that translates “humility.” But the literal definition is:
To occupy your God given space in the world –
not to overestimate your abilities, and to not underestimate them either.
God created us all to serve Him and our fellow humans. In marriage we do this by a mutual covenant to serve the other, not on a 50/50% basis but 100/100%. We commit to our marriage partner for better or worse. Whether they hold up their end or not. That seems pretty harsh. So even if they do nothing to enhance, promote, and in general make our marriage a priority, I’m still called to do 100% of everything I can to make it work? – Yes. In this world, marriage is a legal contract that may be dissolved legally. However, the covenant of marriage is spiritual not earthly. And that raises us to a higher purpose and calling than just living together like roommates.
Self in Marriage
This calling is to make the most of the marriage by putting away self-centeredness and by serving the other person. If you both serve each other in the way God created marriage to be, then your marriage can be incredibly satisfying and mutually beneficial. I believe it’s also one of the biggest change-agents on the planet. But that story is for another day. Suffice it to say, your marriage can change the world in significant ways if you:
- Understand what Jesus has already done for you and how this sets you up for amazing relationship
- Build a relationship with Jesus and let Him lead you on your next steps in your marriage
- Find the bigger purpose that’s been designed for you and your spouse together and walk it out daily.
Take one step today and think for a few moments on who God is and who you are considering this creator. You are created and loved. And because you are loved, you can love your spouse with less worry and self-centeredness, or self-focus, and more awareness of your “God given place in this world.”