How to deal with selfish people without blowing your top

by Lindsay on May 30, 2013

in Attitude, Inspiration, Kindness, Personal Growth, Relationships

Today’s post is inspired by a conversation I had with a friend of mine who wanted advice on how to deal with selfish people. I think we all wonder how sometimes!  

Screen shot 2013-05-29 at 9.51.19 PMOh, how I wish this were a cure-all solution for selfish people. Unfortunately, our world is riddled with them. And if I’m going to be honest, I will say I can be selfish sometimes. The key word there is sometimes. There are some people in this world – it seems – who are selfish more often than not.  We all know someone who fits that bill.

Picture the most selfish person you know. Right now, I’ve got a prime suspect: someone who is no longer in my life but took a lot out of me when she was. She has literally made everything about her since the moment she was born, it seems. I have never heard of her doing one thoughtful thing for someone else, nor sacrificing in any way for what someone else wanted or needed.

On one hand, it would feel SO good to give her what she deserves, to interfere with her plans (insert evil laugh here), and to act spitefully towards her. Better yet – tell her off in front of a large group of people and have them all nodding in agreement at the end at what an awful, hideous witch she really is. Some selfish people are so intolerable that you can sometimes rationalize why the selfish person deserves the pain you’ve crafted in your head for them.

But, that’s not what a spiritually mature person does, is it? It’s actually the exact opposite. So then really – how can we deal with the selfish people in our lives? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I accept this behavior (again) and move on?
  • Can I discuss with him/her about changing her behavior which bothers me?
  • How can I change my relationship with him/her so that he/she no longer feels that he or she can behave this way?

Whatever you do, don’t stoop to lows you know you’re above. When you look back, will you be proud of how you react to this shamelessly selfish idiot? Or will you be upset with yourself?

Some selfish people we know are “stuck” in our lives – through blood, marriage or some other scenario that makes it impossible to get rid of the person. In that case, what can we do? Turning the cheek isn’t always possible when said selfish person isn’t just the woman who cut line at the grocery store.

Focus on YOUR value. This might require spending less time with this person for a while. Pursue your interests. Reconnect with people who rub off in positive ways on you. Use positive affirmations like, “I’m a really awesome person who doesn’t even mind sharing the last scoop of ice cream in the house.” Kidding. Sorta. 

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. There’s nothing written anywhere – as far as I know – that says we have to let selfish people into our lives.

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. Of course it’s not always easy, but it works.

Count to ten: If you’re dealing with selfishness in the heat of the moment, overreacting won’t solve anything. 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 screaming matches at your cousin’s baby shower or keying your neighbor’s car.

Of course we all know that we can’t control other people’s actions. We can only control our reactions. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it doesn’t feel awesome because we sometimes have to give up what we want in order to accommodate someone else who isn’t willing to give. We have to be the bigger person in situations dealing with selfish people. Sometimes it downright sucks but trust me on this one: you always come out the bigger, happier person in the end.

Tell me – how do you deal with selfish people? Share your thoughts, experiences and stories with us!  

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Barrett May 30, 2013 at 10:45 am

Hi Lindsay, Wellll…we’re all got ’em, and sometimes we ARE them. I have people who endlessly give to me and the family and there’s little I can figure out to do in return. But for those who are on the “mean and selfish” end, who are all take and no or little give, after a while I just cut them out or dramatically minimize them. I’ll try to talk to them, I’ll set boundaries, I’ll give a few chances, but after that if there’s no improvement, well…life’s too short.

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Susan S. May 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

In a word: boundaries. Decide what I will deal with and what I won’t. And when something really rings my bell (gets under my skin) to recognize that I need to examine something in me. Or to just recognize my brain’s need for adrenaline at that moment, and then let the freak out moment pass. Honestly, I don’t have selfish people in my life these days. I did have some friends who drained the life out of me, and they are no longer in my life. I truly believe in letting go of that which doesn’t serve me any longer. And if it were a work situation where I had to be around someone who is selfish- big time boundaries.

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Mehrsa June 19, 2013 at 1:22 am

Thank you Lindsay! Tonight I really needed to hear those words. I appreciate you! :-)

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