Without a doubt, there’s a level of self-focus we all need to have to be successful in whatever we are doing in our lives. However, you have to understand when your level of self-focus becomes so extreme that it causes you to misjudge others. When you are overly concerned with yourself, you can fail to put things and people in their proper contexts. Some people have a way of making everything about them. Everything is not about you! Many things go beyond how you view and feel about them. When you limit your thinking predominantly to how you view things and rarely critically consider the views of others, you will end up being perceived as overly dogmatic and not a person to be taken seriously. Most people don’t want to be around individuals who are excessively dogmatic and who make everything about themselves.
If you would consider the things others may possibly be going through, it can better inform your judgment about what they say and do. When you disagree with others, do you ever give any meaningful consideration to trying to understand their arguments and rationales? If you would do this, then you might find out what are the significant factors that contribute to their arguments and rationales. Even if you still disagree with their arguments and rationales, you might gain a better understanding of how they arrive at their arguments and rationales. You may learn more about their arguments and rationales, and you may also learn more about your own arguments and rationales through engaging them more about why they say what they say and do what they do. For many people, however, they have an unwillingness to take the time to do this and don’t have the predilection to do this either.
Overly self-focused people are not able to see the pain, frustration, pressure, and struggle of others. They simply turn a blind eye to other people, especially when they are successful or things are going well for them at a particular time. One of the things that can be most repugnant about overly self-focused people who are successful and/or who things are going good for them at a particular time is how they will look down upon and viciously critique you when you’re are experiencing some difficult times and circumstances. The only thing they want to be clear is that the focus should be on them. They have no true concern for you.
At their core, overly self-focused people are imbued and defined by an egregious all-consuming selfishness. Again, you should have a certain level of self-focus that is going to help you to become successful and stay successful. The problem with your self-focus emerges when it reaches a level that no longer allows you to see, hear, and understand anything or anyone but yourself.
There’s a healthy level of selfishness to have, but don’t make everything about you.
Always take a moment to self-critique yourself to make sure that your self-focus is not reaching an extreme level, a level where it’s becoming an egregious all-consuming selfishness.
Sometimes we can get a little busy with focusing on ourselves that we forget about the people around us who we love. The people who we love, however, should not be placing too much of an undue burden on us. If you’re overly self-focused, then you will think any request from a loved one is an undue burden. Moreover, if you are overly self-focused, you will think any request you make is an undue burden or will be perceived as an undue burden.
Even when overly self-focused people give to others, they find a way to make that giving all about them. They promulgate to everyone that they gave to you and what they gave to you. Many times, they disclose their giving to you to everyone in mean-spirited ways.
Revolutionary Paideia will continue to passionately advocate for people to not be consumed by selfishness. You should never let selfishness define you. Let love, compassion, generosity, and community define you. Plato says it best, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison