How to Deal with Selfish People

Do you ever feel like the bird who flies to the feeder, only to consistently be knocked down by a bigger bird, or a squirrel? You may want to scream, “What about ME?!!” Or you may want to peck the squirrel in the cheek to show him who is REALLY boss!

Isn't he pretty?

Many of us will rationalize why it’s okay for this bigger bird to butt us out of the way. “Well, he’s a lot BLUER than me,” you may say. “That, um, makes him more hungry.”

Or we may want to rationalize why it’s okay to ruffle up our feathers and fight with all we have, inflicting as many wounds as we can while stating, “He WAS a bully, afterall.”

What if this happens time and time again?

If you find that you are emotionally, mentally, or physically drained by someone—whether it be of time, money, attention, or resources—chances are you are dealing with someone with selfish, or narcissistic, traits. This person will test you as you may want to react and send feathers flying, or you may prefer to give away all your birdseed. Neither, however, will get you where you need to be.

Narcissistic (or selfish) people need to constantly have otheres admire them in order to feel good about themselves. The Greek story of narcissus is about a hunter who was so in love with how he looked that he starved to death looking at his reflection in the water. Does that sound like a healthy mindset? No, it isn’t, but often we get sucked in too by these people’s beauty, or power, and we want to feed them whatever we can in the hopes that we will finally earn their returned respect, love, attention, or birdseed.

Psychologists tell us that people who act extremely selfishly are actually very insecure deep down, and are trying to get their needs met through others since they can’t reassure themselves of their own worth. We may feel sorry for them, but still, we must take care of ourselves. We need to eat too, after all! And no, taking care of ourselves doesn’t mean crushing him!

And to clarify, we are ALL selfish at times. A certain amount of selfishness is even good for our survival. This blog is about those who are selfish in a way that hurts us over and oer again.

If you find yourself completely drained by someone’s selfishness, try these tips.

1)Realize it isn’t your fault. You didn’t make this person this way, just like you didn’t make the bird blue.

2)Focus on YOUR value. This might require spending less time with this person for a while. Rediscover your talents, or nurture new interests. Reconnect with people who think positively of you. Write positive affirmations for yourself on Post-It notes around the house, in the present tense, such as, “I am a really beautiful person who is very nice to her friends and has lush and smooth hair that dogs really like to lick.”

3)Set boundaries. Decide what parts of your life you can no longer compromise, and build a fence around them. Choose who and what you let through the gate. Guard it like it’s the last piece of meat in the jungle!

4)Decide whether to keep this selfish person in your life. Once you have perspective, this will be an easier decision to make. Realize that the person will probably have a temper tantrum at first if you set limits or move on, but don’t let this sway you. Stay strong as you make your decision. It’s actually a loving act to stop tolerating bad treatment, because it teaches others how to be kinder!

5)Tame your tiger. Even if you are really mad, it’s not going to solve anything to overreact. Have you ever been really glad you got super mad at someone and caused a scene? You can speak your anger, but keep the end goal in mind of being at peace. In other words, no slashing tires or painting people’s houses with mean slogans.

How do you combat selfishness?

2 thoughts on “How to Deal with Selfish People”

  1. This post couldn’t be more timely for me as, just yesterday, I dealt with 2 very selfish, mean spirited people. One, in my work place. The other, my newly graduated son. In the past, I’m sad to say, I gave in to my strings being pulled by being defensive and argumentative and whiny. This go around I was too exhausted with it all. The work place person, I had a private face to face conversation with and bluntly, calmly explained recent events, how it made me feel (my trust was shattered in that person), and how I wasn’t going to be the recipient of the back stabbing anymore. You commented in your tips that when we set boundaries, the other party may have a temper tantrum. Well, she did. I could tell my words rang true and her hand was caught firmly in the proverbial cookie jar. I calmly restated my points and walked out wishing her a good school year in the fall – while she continued to steam…. With my son, different story – same reaction. But boundaries needed to be set as well. I won’t go into great details, but in a nutshell, he didn’t like that this time I didn’t crumble and give in to his belittling and manipulation. His is direct and in your face. (The other person is quietly done behind your back.) His siblings and I are giving him a quiet, wide berth and refusing to let him engage us in his soul tearing tirades. Your description of narcissism describes him to a tee and my work place person. I know, deep down, he is scared of failure and not being good enough. We try to encourage him and point out what he has accomplished when he chooses to but he cannot speak and treat people the way he has when that insecurity is tweaked. You know, the Lamaze method didn’t work for me during child birth. But it works wonders in dealing with difficult, hurtful people – whether they are family, work, or friends. Relax, find your center, breath through it, and focus on the positive part of the end result. Thanks, Sam, for your continued encouragement and humorous way of looking at things that pain us.

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