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Overcoming Selfishness in Relationships

by Sharon H. Bolling , studioD

In a relationship, selfish behaviors can quickly lead to conflict and strife. Remembering to put the other person first can be a hard habit to develop, especially if it does not come naturally. By identifying how your selfishness is causing trouble and intentionally working to replace self-centered actions and attitudes with selflessness, you can overcome selfish tendencies.

Be Honest With Yourself

Admit to yourself that selfishness is interfering with your relationships. Recognizing the areas that are negatively affected by selfish behaviors can help you pinpoint ways to put others first. However, acknowledging your self-centeredness won’t be easy and may even be painful, notes the Spirit of Life Christian Center website. Accepting an unpleasant truth about yourself and resolving to do something about it may give you motivation that propels you towards a positive outcome.

Replace Selfish Habits

Changing a long-standing habit is possible with careful planning and consistent attention to the details of your behavior. Observe your interactions with others and note areas where you are likely to be selfish. Note how you can replace selfish acts with selfless ones. It may seem uncomfortable or awkward at first. Stay focused on how your relationships can benefit when you overcome your selfishness and keep repeating your new, selfless behaviors until it sticks, says Ian Newby-Clark in his article about breaking habits on PsychologyToday.com.

Think of Others First

Putting others' wants and needs before your own is the rule of thumb when overcoming selfishness in your relationships. True selflessness is giving your time, energy, attention or money when you least feel like it, according to the SLCC. You may be tempted to focus inwardly or make an excuse to justify having things your way. Remember, relationships are not perfect, but instead of thinking about yourself, work hard to treat others they way you want to be treated, says Elizabeth Gruder in her review of Dr. Jane Greer's book, "What About Me?" on PsychCentral.com

Don't Give Up

Setting out to change a deeply-rooted pattern in a relationship, like selfishness, will take a persistent effort. Slip-ups may hinder your progress and cause you to feel hopeless that change can occur. You may think it's easier to throw in the towel. However, do not be discouraged; instead, remember why you want to overcome selfishness in your relationships in the first place. One way to show your selflessness is to continue trying in spite of any obstacles in your way.

About the Author

Sharon Bolling holds a master's in counseling and human development with a concentration in school counseling from Radford University. She is an experienced instructor of both high school and college students. She has been writing for Demand Media online since April 2013.

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