One of the most precious things in life is your time. You can always make more money or more friends, but you can never conjure up more time. When a moment is over, it’s over, so it would be wise to take a hard look at how you’re spending your hours. Are you letting it be wasted by selfish people?
Since your time on Earth is limited, it makes sense to spend it with people who empower you rather than people who drain you. How do you know when you’re surrounded by selfish people, though? How do you avoid these emotional vampires? This is a skill that’s worth developing.
How Do You Identify Selfish People?
Selfish people have certain patterns that become more obvious. In this sense, selfish people will often identify themselves for you. Here are some glaring signs of a selfish person to watch out for:
- They never contribute to your life
- They only call you when they need something
- They get upset when you say no or draw boundaries
- They try to manipulate you to get what they want
- You find yourself avoiding them because they are just so emotionally draining
Selfish people make their world all about themselves. Since there’s no room for anyone else, your needs will rarely get met in the relationship. They are always taking from you and are full of excuses when you need help from them. When you ask for something, they make you feel like it’s a huge imposition.
Egocentric people show a lack of compassion and caring. In the selfish person’s mind, any agenda besides their own isn’t important. For instance, let’s say your friend asks you for a ride, but you cancel last minute because your spouse broke up with you, and you feel too emotional to drive. A selfish person may not hide their annoyance at being inconvenienced, or they may even get upset that you canceled. It doesn’t matter that you’re going through a crisis; the only thing that matters is that they didn’t get what they want.
Making Friends with Selfish People Is Not Worth It
Making friends with people like this — even if they are in high positions of authority — is usually a waste of time. You will get little out of such a relationship. Trying to squeeze any value or reciprocation from them will be like trying to milk a stone. Even if you can get something from them, it will never feel like a win-win situation. It will just feel like they are paying you back out of duty, and they will give as little as they can get away with. It will never feel like they are contributing freely as a friend.
Worse still, this selfishness can infect you as well! If you live in a world where people are constantly trying to drain you, it can make you defensive and you may think the only way you can meet your needs is by similarly taking advantage of other people. It turns into a vicious cycle. It’s also self-perpetuating since acting selfishly will attract even more selfish, low-quality people into your life.
Sometimes, when you’re surrounded by selfish people, you may not even realize that this behavior isn’t normal! Just as a fish doesn’t know what water is, you may not know your friends or family are toxic until you meet someone who treats you well for the first time.
Raise your standards. Real friends don’t get mad if you tell them no; they try to help you in any way they can, and they don’t make you feel used.
Why Should You Avoid Selfish People?
Selfish people can make your life miserable. You might not even realize how annoying they are until you finally push them out of your life. Selfish people could waste your time by trying to manipulate you into serving their ends and you might not notice all the mental energy you’re putting into dodging these manipulations.
For example, let’s say you’re improving your life and finally eating healthy and a selfish person in your life has grown jealous. Everything is a competition to selfish people. This person may criticize you or discourage you because they feel threatened by your success. After all, anything that doesn’t glorify them isn’t interesting to them.
As you can see, you should avoid selfish people for very practical reasons:
- To keep yourself on track with your goals
- To not let toxic individuals sap your energy
- To avoid falling into the trap of competition and jealousy
- To make room in your life for people that will help you, not hinder you
Every moment you spend with a selfish person is a moment you could have spent with a genuine friend who wants to cooperate with you and help you grow as a person.
Selfish people are like burdens that are constantly hanging over you, draining your energy and pushing you away from your goals. Therefore it’s important to avoid them like the plague if you’re trying to improve your life.
How to Keep Selfish People from Stealing Your Time
Selfish people often ignore your wishes, so what should you do if they keep trying to steal your time?
Well, first, you need to recognize that unless someone is physically forcing you to do something, you are the owner of your time. You are 100% responsible for how you allocate your time, and no one can really steal it from you. Even if the selfish person is your time-wasting boss, you still have the option to leave the situation — even if you might fear the consequences.
Sometimes letting go of selfish people who play an important role in your life can be scary. For example, maybe you’re in a relationship with a selfish person and you feel you have too much to lose if you let go. In cases like these, the transition can be slow and painful, but you will feel better in the end if you let go.
To let go of the selfish people in your life, follow these steps:
1. Draw Boundaries Often and Clearly
Boundaries are not meek suggestions. For instance, if you tell the selfish person, “Hey, don’t call me after 6 o’clock. I am busy,” then you will have to mean it. Assert yourself, and don’t answer their calls.
Sometimes just drawing boundaries and enforcing them is enough to neutralize the selfish person. Maybe they are still in your life, but they don’t do as much damage because their energy is contained.
Other times, they may not listen. They may plead with you. They may guilt you. They may try to manipulate you into loosening your boundaries. This is when you may have to take extreme steps and cut them out of your life completely.
2. Be Your Complete Self and Don’t Apologize for It
Often, selfish people will try to manipulate you into serving their agenda, and this can slowly mold you into someone you’re not. This is especially true if the selfish person is close to you. Rediscovering the patterns they pushed you into and becoming conscious of them can go a long way towards changing that. Try to find your real self underneath.
For instance, let’s say you have a selfish mother-in-law who tries to make you feel guilty because you won’t allow her to live in your house. Maybe you’re usually apologetic about your boundaries, and you compromise by giving into some of her other unreasonable demands. Maybe you make polite excuses and never tell her the real reasons you don’t want her around. Next time, try being your complete self and owning your desires. Tell her “no” and don’t apologize for it. Don’t hide how you really feel.
Eventually, once a selfish person realizes that there is nothing they can do to change who you are or manipulate you into serving their ends, they often give up.
3. Open Yourself Up to New People and Patterns
Sometimes, when we have to cut people from our lives, it leaves a vacuum. Out of instinct or loneliness, we might try to fill this void immediately. It’s a good idea to take a step back, though. If you act out of desperation, you could easily fall into old patterns again. You could just end up attracting another selfish person to take the old one’s place!
Consciously decide what kind of behavior you want from the people in your life and then only allow people who rise to those standards. The moment you get a whiff of those old patterns in someone you meet, know that some part of you might still be attracted to the familiar. Stay vigilant until you have surrounded yourself with compassionate people who want an equal relationship with you.
Selfish people are not just a waste of time, they are a waste of energy! You only have so much of both, so don’t squander it by spending your precious life with a toxic person who makes you feel drained. Look for people who will actually contribute to your life and who will celebrate your triumphs. Having upbeat people who are on your side will skyrocket your personal growth in ways you may not even imagine.