What picture crosses your mind when you think of a self-absorbed person? Up until a few weeks ago, I would have seen a woman living beyond her means, covered in glamour from her expensive salon hair down to her name-brand shoes. She would have been walking with an attitude in her step, talking on her cell phone, and using the words “like” and “whatever” in every sentence. She would have furrowed her brow at people not dressed to her standards and when she did not get her way – look out!
What Self-Absorption Really Looks Like
Lately, however, it’s come to my attention that self-absorption is not always characterized by conspicuous spending and lavish living. Sometimes self-absorbed people put on an outward display, but some self-centered people appear to be kind, giving, and approachable. This is probably because they are kind, giving, and approachable. Self-absorption can manifest itself in a couple of ways. Either a person demands attention and pours his or her energy into fulfilling his or her wants and needs or a person simply spends loads of time thinking about him or herself.
People who are constantly worried about how they are perceived, concerned that they are bothering others, or people who repeatedly fear that they will offend someone are also self-absorbed. It is not obvious and can be considered a virtue by some, but ultimately when we allow insecurity to take over our mind and continually entertain thoughts such as, “Did I offend that person? He or she walked past me without saying, ‘Hello’,” or “My friend isn’t smiling today. It must be because I did something wrong.”
A Look at Myself
One time, I made a comment to Eric about being concerned that I had upset someone I did not know well in a brief interaction and he said, “Heather, you’re not that important.” At first, a statement like that can feel like a dagger, but after digesting what he said, I knew he was right. In the scheme of life, my facial expressions, occasional awkward comments, and overall demeanor are not that significant. Yes, I should ask God to help me show kindness and love to others, but if I fail to keep a smile on my face every second of every day, will the world fall apart? Will my friends be angered and hurt? Will I be considered a horrible person? Of course not… and yet I’ve struggled with believing that I’m constantly causing someone frustration or aggravation. “Did I overstay my welcome? Should I not have visited that person so long?” “That person in the corner rolled her eyes. Was it something I said?” Reading my inner-thoughts in print right here is rather embarrassing!
Regardless of how someone displays his or her self-absorption, it is a hindrance to relationships. When I spend valuable time worrying about how I come across to other people (especially in those situations where there is absolutely no proof or even likelihood that I’ve upset someone), Eric is affected. He’s become weary at times enduring my unfounded anxiety. On occasion, he has wanted me to ask for reasonable favors from others and I’ve fought him tooth and nail because I was terrified of inconveniencing someone.
A Look at You
Are you self-absorbed? Do you find that you spend more time thinking about yourself than you should? How has it affected your relationships? Take some time and notice your thoughts. Are they consistently focused on you? If so, work on refocusing your mind on God and others.
Write or type out Scriptures that re-route your mind to the truth of God’s Word and repeat them often (e.g., in the morning before work, etc.). I’ve started noticing when my thoughts become self-centered, I’m much lighter, happier, and peaceful when I direct my thoughts away from myself and onto the goodness of God and the (true) needs and concerns of others.
How much time do you spend thinking or worrying about yourself?