How To Be Less Self-Centered

Jan Buchczik

Thinking of yourself as an observer is better for your happiness than obsessing over being observed.

How to Build a Lifeis a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life. One night several years ago, after filling up my car at a gas station and pulling away, I noticed a strange sound behind me in traffic—sort of a metallic clanking noise. It sounded to me like someone was dragging a muffler or bumper, so I started looking for the car to alert the driver.

But no matter how fast or slow I moved, or where I turned, I couldn’t locate the car. At this point, I noticed people on the sidewalk pointing and laughing—at me. I stopped and found the gas hose still attached to my car. I immediately pulled out the hose and drove back to the gas station, where I was educated on the economics of breaking a gas pump.

My memory of that night is odd because I was judging the behavior of another person, who then turned out to be me. The absent-minded professor was some other guy. Philosophers might say that in these rare minutes, my “I-self” (the seer of things around me) and “me-self” (the one seen) were mentally separated.

This kind of separation is unnatural. Making it your permanent state of mind would be difficult and perhaps even undesirable. Each of us can, however, purposely change the balance of time we spend as observers and as the objects of observation—even without doing something as ridiculous as I did. And working to observe more than you think about being observed can be an excellent way to get happier.

When you look into a mirror, you see yourself almost as if you were two different people—one who sees, and one who is seen. That may sound confusing, but bear with me here, because both versions of you are important. As the philosopher William James explored in depth, you must be an observer of things around you to survive and thrive, but you must also observe yourself and be observed by others to have any consistent sense of self-concept and self-image. Without observing, you would get hit by a car or starve. Without being observed, you would have no memory, history, or sense of why you do what you do.

The trick for well-being is balancing your I-self and me-self. But most of us spend too much time being observed and not enough time observing. We think constantly about ourselves and how others see us; we look in every mirror; we check our mentions on social media; we obsess over our identities.

This brings trouble. Research has shown, for example, that focusing on the world outside yourself is linked to happiness, while focusing on yourself and how others see you can lead to unstable moods. Your happiness goes up and down like a yo-yo, depending on whether you see yourself positively or negatively in a given moment. This instability is hard to bear; no wonder self-absorption is associated with anxiety and depression.

Seeing yourself as an object rather than a subject can also lower your performance in ordinary tasks. Researchers have found in learning experiments that people are less likely to try new things when they are focused on themselves. This makes sense: When you pay too much attention to yourself, you ignore a lot about the outside world.

The idea that people should spend more time thinking about the world than about themselves predates modern science and philosophy. For example, it is a core focus of Zen Buddhism, which is fundamentally an attitude of pure outward observation. “Life is an art,” the Zen master D. T. Suzuki wrote in 1934, “and like perfect art it should be self-forgetting.” My colleague Robert Waldinger, a psychiatry professor and Zen priest, explained it to me via email in this way: “When I’m aware of the self I call ‘Bob,’ it’s me in relation to the world. When that falls away (in meditation, or when I’m standing in awe of a waterfall), the sense of a self that is separate from everything else subsides and it’s just sounds and sensations.”

In some traditions, the I-self is not just a ticket to happiness but a connection to the divine. Hindus seek to reveal their atman, which is characterized by an innate state of awareness in which one witnesses the world but does not get embroiled in it. Atman is considered a direct link to Brahman, the ultimate divine reality. This is consistent with Jesus’s teaching that “anyone who wishes to follow me must deny himself.”

You will never eradicate your me-self, nor should you want to. But you can certainly increase your happiness by adopting conscious practices that lower the amount of time you spend in an objectified state. Three conscious habits can help us transcend this tendency.

1. Avoid your own reflection.

Mirrors are inherently attractive, as are all mirrorlike phenomena, such as social-media mentions. But mirrors are not your friend. They help even the healthiest people objectify themselves; for people with self-image-related maladies, they can be sheer misery. In 2001, researchers studying people with body dysmorphic disorder (those who think obsessively about perceived flaws in their bodies) found that the longest time the participants spent looking in the mirror (and thus focusing on the source of their distress) was 3.4 times longer than the longest mirror-gazing session of those who didn’t have the disorder.

Take steps to make the version of yourself that the world sees less likely to pop up in front of you. You might consider literally removing all but one or two mirrors from your home and making a rule to not look at yourself more than once in the morning. I would also recommend turning off your social-media notifications, adopting an absolute ban against Googling yourself, and turning off self-view on Zoom.

2. Judge not.

To judge is to take observation of the world and turn it inward. For example, if you say, “This weather is awful,” you have just made a judgment about your own feelings—meaning you are now observing yourself (and assigning a negative mood to something outside your control).

Making judgments about the world is normal and necessary; we need to do it in order to make cost-benefit decisions. However, many judgments are unhelpful and gratuitous. Do you really need to decide that the song you just heard is stupid? Try instead to observe more around you without regard to your opinions. Start by making more purely observational statements rather than values-based ones. Reframe “This coffee is terrible” as “This coffee has a bitter flavor.”

3. Stand in awe.

In his research, the UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner focuses on the experience of awe, which he defines as “the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” Among its many benefits, Keltner has found, awe diminishes the sense of self. For example, in one study, he and his colleagues asked people to consider either an experience in nature that was very beautiful or a time when they felt pride. Those who thought about nature were twice as likely as those who thought about pride to say that they felt small or insignificant, and nearly a third more likely to say that they felt the presence of something greater than themselves.

Spend more time enjoying things that amaze you. My friend and fellow happiness specialist Gretchen Rubin visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art almost daily. I listen to Bach’s music every single day and never fail to feel awe. Incorporating awe into your daily life might mean making sure you see the sunset as often as you can or studying astronomy—or whatever it is that blows your mind.

One last exercise you might try if you have a free day: Use it to wander. In one famous Zen koan (a story that requires philosophical interpretation), a junior monk sees an older monk walking and asks him where he is going. “I am on pilgrimage, following the wind,” the senior monk says. “What are you on pilgrimage for?” the junior monk asks. “I don’t know,” the elder answers, adding, “Non-knowing is most intimate.”

Some of the most intimate experiences in life come when you can observe your journey without expectation of some external payoff. Dedicate just one day to being like this senior monk. Start the morning by saying, “I do not know what this day will bring, but I will accept it.” Go through the day focusing on things outside yourself, resisting judgment, and avoiding anything self-referential. You could get in your car and go on a day trip with no set destination. But if you buy gas, do remember to put the hose back on the pump.

By: Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School. He’s the host of the podcast series How to Build a Happy Life and the author of From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life.

Source: How to Be Less Self-Centered – The Atlantic

Critics by By Sarah Regan

A self-absorbed person is someone who is only concerned about themselves and shows little interest in or care for others. As licensed marriage and family therapist Shane Birkel, LMFT, explains to mbg, these people “have a hard time with empathy and compassion for other people and other people’s perspective, and they’re much more focused on getting their own needs and wants met.”

According to clinical psychologist Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, we see this behavior in children between the ages of 2 and 6, who are going through something called the pre-operational stage, which is very egocentric. It’s to be expected in children, she notes, but for adults who are self-absorbed, “it’s almost like they never outgrew that stage—even if they have great scripts and can mask their self-absorption.”

While there are many types of narcissism (and varying degrees), a lot of qualities and behaviors of a narcissist will overlap with someone who is self-absorbed. For starters, Neo says, narcissists are very entitled, as are self-absorbed people. “You have to be pretty entitled to always want to bring everything back to you,” she adds.

And even if a self-absorbed person may not qualify for the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), Birkel says, they can still have narcissistic tendencies like manipulation, controlling, and a general lack of empathy or concern for others. Just as a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square, a narcissist is self-absorbed, but a self-absorbed person isn’t necessarily a narcissist.

7 common signs to look out for:

1.They call all the shots.

One of the more obvious signs of self-absorption is when someone is always calling the shots. Whether it’s where you’re going for dinner or when you have sex, Birkel says this kind of person wants everything their way and will probably not appreciate your thoughts, ideas, or recommendations.

2.They make everything a competition.

Is this person always trying to one-up you? Or in some cases, “one-down” you? Neo explains that self-absorbed people always make everything a competition. They may brag about an accomplishment right after you shared your own exciting news, or in the case of “one-downing,” she adds, “they’ll want to compete with you about how they’re suffering more” when you’re upset about something.

3.They use manipulation to get their way.

As Birkel notes, things like emotional manipulation and controlling behavior are certainly signs someone is self-absorbed because someone who cares for the people in their life won’t be constantly exhibiting those types of behaviors. This is where you want to look out for other signs of narcissism, such as gaslighting and emotional abuse.

4.They always respond to your problems with toxic positivity.

There are some self-absorbed people who know what they should say in certain situations, even if they don’t really mean it. Keep an eye out for toxic positivity, Neo says, in those moments when someone says something that seems nice but isn’t really helpful and is actually dismissing your concerns or problems.

5.They know how to mask their selfishness.

Similar to toxic positivity, there are other ways a self-absorbed person can “mask” their self-centeredness. According to Neo, a lot of people like this “tend to be able to pick up the right things to say or know to praise you.” But once they’ve said the right things, she adds, they’ll weasel in some competition or bring the conversation back to themselves.

6. They’re always the center of attention.

Simply put, “They want to be the center of attention,” Birkel says—and they’ll make it so. Neo echoes this, adding that a self-absorbed person knows how to tailor the conversation to them and can always bring it back to them. And when they’re not the center of attention, she adds, they may appear visibly bored or uninterested with their body language.

7. Their openness might be charming at first.

Self-absorbed people can be very charming or interesting at first, Birkel notes. “They can come across as emotionally intelligent initially,” he explains, adding that because there’s a lot of closed-off people out there, it can be refreshing to hear someone talk openly about themselves. But you want to be mindful of this, he says, and pay attention to whether they show interest in you, too, by asking questions and simply listening.

.

Related contents:“Egocentrism in Adolescence”. Child Development. 38 (4): 1025–1034. doi:10.2307/1127100. ISSN 0009-3920. JSTOR 1127100. PMID 5583052.

Onishi, K. H., Baillargeon, R. (2005). “Do 15-month-old infants understand false beliefs?”. Science. 308 (5719): 255–258. Bibcode:2005Sci…308..255O. doi:10.1126/science.1107621. PMC 3357322. PMID 15821091.

“Perspective taking in children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction”. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 40 (6): 760–768. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2004.02.002.

“Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception” (PDF). Cognition. 13 (1): 103–128. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5. PMID 6681741. S2CID 17014009.

Adams, G. R., Jones, R. M. (1982). “Adolescent egocentrism: Exploration into possible contributions of parent-child relations”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 11 (1): 25–31. doi:10.1007/BF01537814. PMID 24310645. S2CID 24937196.

Keysar, B., Barr, D. J., Balin, J. A., Brauner, J. S. (2000). “Taking perspective in conversation: The role of mutual knowledge in comprehension”. Psychological Science. 11 (1): 32–38. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00211. PMID 11228840. S2CID 10659981.

Encyclopedia of Human Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference. pp. 441–442. Retrieved 20 Oct 2014.

“Egocentrism in Adolescence”. Child Development. 38 (4): 1025–1034. doi:10.2307/1127100. ISSN 0009-3920. JSTOR 1127100. PMID 5583052.

“Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 1 (4): 515–526. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00076512.

Bornstein, Marc; Arterberry, Martha; Lamb, Michael (2013). Development in Infancy: A Contemporary Introduction. New York: Psychology Press. p. 170. ISBN 9781848726581.

Advanced Applied Psychology, Volume II. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 93. ISBN 978-8126903559.

Butterworth G Harris M (1994). Principles of developmental psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

“Preoperational Stage”.Pronin, E., & Olivola, C. Y. (2006). “Egocentrism”. In N. J. Salkind (ed.). Encyclopedia of Human Development. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference. pp. 441–442. Retrieved 20 October 2014.Berger, Kathleen Stassen (2014). Invitation to the Life Span, Second Edition. New York: Worth Publishers.

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Sammons, A (2010). “Tests of egocentrism” (PDF). Psychlotron.org.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2012.

Goossens L.; Seiffge-Krenke I.; Marcoen A. (1992). “The many faces of adolescent egocentrism: Two European replications”. Journal of Adolescent Research. 7 (1): 43–58. doi:10.1177/074355489271004. S2CID 143870640.

Elkind D (December 1967). “Egocentrism in adolescence”. Child Dev. 38 (4): 1025–1034. doi:10.2307/1127100. JSTOR 1127100. PMID 5583052.

Vartanian LR (Winter 2000). “Revisiting the imaginary audience and personal fable constructs of adolescent egocentrism: a conceptual review”. Adolescence. 35 (140): 639–661. PMID 11214204.

Peterson K. L.; Roscoe B. (1991). “Imaginary audience behavior in older adolescent females”. Adolescence. 26 (101): 195–200. PMID 2048473.

O’Connor B. P.; Nikolic J. (1990). “Identity development and formal operations as sources of adolescent egocentrism”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 19 (2): 149–158. doi:10.1007/BF01538718. PMID 24272375. S2CID 32381808.

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What Are Dark Empaths: The People With High Empathy But Dark Traits

Many psychologists have dedicated their careers to studying the so-called “dark triad”, a mix of maladaptive personality traits like narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. The textbook description of a dark triad individual is manipulative, exploitative, often charming, and constantly seeking admiration, validation, and special favors from others.

Most defining of their personality is that they do so in a callous way with little consideration for others, lacking remorse. But then there are also dark empaths. According to a new study, these people display the dark triad traits to a degree except they actually have the capacity for empathy — and that may make them much more dangerous.

Psychologists Paul Ekman and Daniel Goleman, the foremost emotional intelligence ‘gurus’, have outlined three distinct types of empathy. Cognitive empathy is the ability to recognize someone’s perspective and thoughts without being actively emotionally involved. It’s an intellectual acknowledgment of the other person’s emotional state; you know what they think and why they might feel the way they do.

Emotional empathy, or affective empathy, refers to going through the same emotions someone else is feeling as though you were the one going through their experiences. If you feel sad and then my state changes and I feel sad too, that’s affective empathy at play. And then there’s compassionate empathy, which is a combination of the former two.

Some people lack any of these, a hallmark of clinical psychopathy. This explains why psychopaths often engage in violent behavior, sometimes physical violence. But there are also dark triad people with average or even above average empathy, which allows them to be even more capable manipulators. If you want to manipulate someone, it helps to understand them at an emotional level and then use that against them.

In their new study, psychologists Nadja Heym and Alexander Sumich from Nottingham Trent University asked almost 1,000 people to complete a series of questionnaires that measured dark triad traits and empathy. The researchers found patterns in the replies that separated the participants into four groups.

The traditional dark triad group with low empathy scores comprised about 13% of the sample, which was expected. People with lower to average levels of all traits (empathy but also narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) comprised 34% of the participants — these were the “typicals”. About 33% of the sample had low dark triad traits and high empathy, the “empaths”.

But much to the researchers’ surprise, about 20% of the participants scored high on both dark triad traits and empathy. In fact, this latter group scored higher on both cognitive and affective empathy than the typicals.

The dark empaths were not as aggressive as the traditional dark triad group. That makes sense since they’re less likely to hurt other people if they feel guilty doing so. However, the dark empaths nevertheless were more aggressive than typicals and empaths, in the sense that they were more inclined to inflict emotional harm or manipulate people through social exclusion, malicious humor, and guilt-induction.

Dark empaths display a form of soft aggression, one that can still be dangerous in combination with their other traits.For instance, dark empaths were the most extroverted out of all groups. Their heightened empathy likely helps them to connect with others and be social. But the researchers add that they may be secretly motivated by a desire to dominate others.

“Though the aggression reported by the dark empaths was not as high as the traditional dark triad group, the danger of this personality profile is that their empathy, and likely resulting social skills, make their darkness harder to spot,” Heym and Sumich wrote in an article for The Conversation.

“We believe that dark empaths have the capacity to be callous and ruthless, but are able to limit such aggression.”

The findings appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Tibi Puiu

By: Tibi Puiu

Source: What are dark empaths: the people with high empathy but dark traits

.

Critics:

One of the most common characteristic trait out of all dark empath traits is an open behaviour. They are usually extroverts who have an abundance of social skills and hence, never tend to shy away from expressing their thoughts, views or even their perspective of Someone

They are not the type of people who can easily be pushed over instead, the presence of dark traits can make it the other way around. It is also noticed that instead of normal empathy as we have come to know of it, these people experience what is called cognitive empathy.

In simple terms, they are able to understand someone’s emotional state very well but instead of connecting with them like normal empaths they generally tend to exploit it. Now given the fact this is a pretty basic characteristic Trait which means it doesn’t necessarily mean that a person who is an extrovert must be a dark empath too. A person must at least have 3 or 4 traits from this list to qualify as a dark empath.

Most people enjoy and want power, what’s different here? Sure. But at the same time hunger for power (went a little more dramatic than required) is something that majorly dominates the key characteristic Traits of traditional dark triads.

They have a need for power and usually have a huge liking towards being the leader all the time. What sets dark empath from the classic dark triads is the fact that even though dark empaths wants power, he/she enjoy a rather participatory leadership.

As Interesting as it may sound, not everything is negative about this personality type. On the very contrary these people are found to have remarkable talents in certain aspects of life. They don’t give up on their goal, and have the ability to make quick decisions hence they are proven to be great leaders, they understand people well and therefore don’t have difficulties in connecting with them.

This does not in any ways mean they are perfect because talent and perfection certainly are two different things.

.

More contents:

The Dark Cube: dark character profiles and OCEAN

Relationship between the Dark Triad and depressive symptoms

Predicting career success: is the dark side of personality worth considering?

Socioeconomic Disadvantage Ups Death Risk in the Cancer Population

How to Engage, Connect, & Captivate: Become the Social Presence You’ve Always Wanted To Be

Are You an Omnivert? 10 Signs Show Your True Nature

Will I Ever Find Love : 9 Things to Keep in Mind

How to Play Hard to Get? A 8 Step Easy Guide

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Can You Tell If Your Empathy Is Actually Narcissism? | Online Marketing Tools

Empathy is the first layer of validation that product teams and startups have.

 

It helps them filter out a huge bulk of irrelevant ideas and features before committing resources to building or testing them. It is a guiding force on the ground in lean product environments.

But be it through personas or design thinking, empathy is still a highly subjective process prone to chance.

 

You could very well employ empathy in a way that results in a thinking pattern that is completely different from that of a competitor team, or from another member of your very team, and all of them might differ from that of the customer’s. Read more..

 

Source: Can You Tell If Your Empathy Is Actually Narcissism? | Online Marketing Tools

 

 

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