Selfish & Self-Centered



You know I am a believer that everything is the product of a million little things.

Our recovery, our lives, our relationships, our personalities- all of it is the product of a million little things. Just like the micro decisions I always talk about.

Something I stress a lot to my clients is to think of yourself as a thousand piece puzzle. Do you realize how small those pieces are?

Some are bigger than others, but we are made up of a lot of pieces.

When I talk about my past and tell you that I wasn’t very nice and I was selfish and manipulative- those are just a few of my pieces. I was also extremely kind and loving and generous. Those are a few more of my pieces.

One of my pieces is entrepreneur, and one is alcoholic.

I will tell you, my anger piece got much smaller when I got sober and so did my judgmental piece. And with that, other pieces got much bigger.

The pieces we are going to talk about today are the selfish and self-centered pieces.

I’m sure we have heard this a thousand times, people telling us how selfish we are- all you think about is yourself, all you care about is you.

The problem is, when I was drinking, and even early in my recovery, I didn’t really understand what that meant.

Especially as a person who is unmarried and has no kids. I don’t really have anything else to think about but me and my dog.

This is a big part of the reason that dogs have always been good for me, too, because it forced me to have to think about someone else.

All of sudden my whole world didn’t just revolve around me.

I had zero understanding of how selfish I was until my sponsor started to point things out to me. And I remember a couple of times feeling overwhelmed because, on my own, I would have never been able to identify those behaviors as selfish.

So, I found this definition of selfish people in a Psychology Today blog- it says:

"The two primary characteristics of selfishness are: Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others."

Let me give you an example, I think I’ve shared this story with you before- when I was about a year sober I was going to a meeting at 5:30. I pulled in the parking lot and I saw the car of someone from my meeting who I knew very well.

This person was going through a painful divorce and for weeks, all they talked about in the meeting was their divorce and how awful it is and how awful the spouse is and all of that.

I was so tired of hearing about this divorce I couldn’t stand it, so instead of parking my car and going in, I decided I would leave that meeting and come back for the next one.

Just as I’m pulling out of the parking lot, my sponsor calls me.

He says, “Hey! Whatcha doin?”

And, stupidly, I said, “Well, I was going to go to the 5:30 meeting but so & so is there and I can’t take another minute of hearing about this divorce! It’s been weeks that’s all we hear about every single day. I’ve never even been married!”

Oh boy. If only I’d known what was coming. 

He says, “Really? So you think all those people in that room just get together there every day just for you? You think that’s what this is about? You? Everybody’s supposed to show up and make sure they talk about what you want them to? I’ve never heard such self-centered selfish BS thinking in my life. You get your ass in that meeting and you apologize to the whole group for your selfishness!”

And I did. And he came up there to check and make sure I did.

Now, to you, this may sound extreme. And let me clarify, he wasn’t being mean or shaming me or anything of the sort. He was calling me out on my own bullshit and holding me accountable to becoming the better person I wanted to be.

That’s why I had him. To teach me, to guide me to be better.

And everything he said was absolutely true.

All I was thinking about was me. What I wanted. How I was uncomfortable. I wanted a different topic.

All the people in those meetings every day aren’t there to cater to me and make sure I’m comfortable and I have everything I want. It's not all about me.

We have to stop and think about the other people and recognize they have needs, too.

That person that was talking about their divorce, who, btw, was a friend of mine- not just a stranger in the group but someone I would consider a friend. Those meetings were the only place they had to talk about what was going on.

Their divorce had put them in an uncomfortable position with their family and they were losing their extended family, and their friends were the people in those meetings. That was their safe place, just like it was my safe place.

We are all there to support and love one another. Not judge each other and be dismissive because everything doesn’t go my way.


I was excessively concerned with myself with no regard for the needs or feelings of others.

Not to mention how many other people in that room were probably getting a lot of value from all the conversation about relationships and divorce. 

At this stage of the game, I am happy to sit and listen to whatever crazy stuff anybody wants to talk about because I am an emotionally mature human now and I want to show love, respect and kindness by letting people be in their journey wherever they are.

That moment stood out to me because I had zero understanding what I was doing was being selfish.

Another situation I always think about is when I would be with my family.

First of all, I lived in Los Angeles for a long time and for many years I never even went to visit my family. Mostly because I didn’t want to leave my life because I was busy being so cool. 😎🙄

But also, I was too drunk or hungover to make a plan and stick to it.

When I did go back to visit- I would stay with my mom. Who, of course, was dying to see me because we are very close and we are the only girls, me and my mom.

I basically used her home as a hotel.

I didn’t spend any quality time with them, I was hungover every day, I spent the absolute least amount of time possible with them and bailed as soon as I could to go meet all my drinking friends.  Then, I would return in the middle of the night drunk, and pass out.

That’s pretty impressive.

All because I didn’t have the capacity to think about anyone but myself. I never thought about the fact that my mom missed me and would have appreciated some time with me.

Or my little brothers. They were still pretty young. It never crossed my mind to hang out with them and connect with them.

All I cared about was getting to the drinks.

See, it’s this general inability to consider others in any way. These are just a couple of things that stood out to me through the course of my recovery. And simple things that we all do without thinking about how much we are considering others or not considering others.

Selfishness & Self-Centered

What I want you to do is think about how YOU fit in here- I want you to look at YOUR habits and see how YOU can improve.

It’s so funny I do these episodes and get all these emails and messages from people telling me, "Omg you talked about that and I could see that in my spouse!"

No! That’s not why we have these conversations!

You can’t control other people so stop trying to diagnose them and figure out their problems and figure out what you think is wrong with them- mind your own business and focus on yourself.

I want you to figure out YOUR issues and see how YOU can improve because YOU are the only one you have any control over!

Go back and listen to the hula hoop episode and get a good reminder – all you need to worry about is what fits inside your hula hoop. And the only thing that fits in there is YOU.

Selfish people have a hard time listening.

Some people don’t actually listen to what you are saying because they’re just waiting for their turn to speak.

They can’t hear you or understand you because they are focused on what they want to say and what they want you to hear.

Are you guilty of this?

I was, for a long time. Again, I didn’t even know I did this until I started learning about active listening. So I immediately got my act together and started practicing being different.

Pay attention to what someone is saying to you- hear their words and try to understand where they are coming from. If all you care about is your defense and you believe that what you have to say or the point you want to make is more important, then you have some work to do.

Being Late

A major selfish behavior is being late. Selfish people do not respect other people’s time. If you respect other people’s time then you make sure you show up on time because that is being respectful.

Showing up late shows that whatever you were doing that made you late was more important to you.

Choosing to take a phone call when you are getting ready or checking your FB one more time, or stopping for a coffee when you know you are already running late. All self-serving and not honoring being on time.

A big part of this growth for me was my self-esteem. I couldn’t respect anything or anyone when I didn’t respect myself. I was late to everything.

I had a job for awhile working day shifts. I knew exactly what time I had to get up and exactly what time I had to leave my house to get there on time.

And every single day, I got up late, left the house late, AND I stopped for a Diet Dr. Pepper for my hangover.

Even knowing I was late, I still stopped. I didn’t care.

Because what I wanted and what I needed was more important to me than what my job needed or what my manager needed from me.

It’s so embarrassing now, when I look back on this stuff. I was so immature in every way.

When I got sober and was going to AA every day, probably around the one year mark, I made a commitment to be on time.

Making a commitment means doing it, NO MATTER WHAT. Not just doing it until it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

I stopped at Starbucks every day on the way to my meeting and got a venti iced caramel macchiato and there were a couple of times I had to skip the Starbucks stop because I got out of the house late.

But I made a commitment to be on time so if I didn’t leave when I needed to then I had to sacrifice my coffee.

It feels good to do the right thing. It feels good to be dependable. It feels good to care for yourself and have respect for others.

Selfish people are very manipulative.

We all know this a part of addiction, too.

I found this quote from an emotional healing expert, Diane Ouimet and it stopped me in my tracks-

“Controllers, abusers, and manipulative people don’t question themselves. They don’t ask themselves if the problem is them. They always say the problem is someone else.”

Boy do I hear this a lot- he said this or she did that- I can’t believe they treated me like that- Everything is someone else’s fault. Never taking a moment to look at themselves and see their own responsibility.

This is what I was talking about earlier, too- when people message me about how much they learned in an episode, but what they learned was about their spouse or family- always looking at someone else instead of analyzing their own behavior and habits.

Constructive Criticism

When we are stuck in selfish mode, too, it is almost impossible to take constructive criticism. A few minutes ago I talked about listening and how people get caught up in forming their response, their rebuttal, so they aren’t actually listening.

If someone says something about you that you don’t like, you are definitely going to get stuck building your defense in your mind and you are no longer listening.

Again, not taking a moment to think about if there is anything accurate about what the person said, instead you get consumed in defending yourself and making your point- because your point is the one most important to you.

Never mind if your partner said something that is absolutely true, and you know it’s true. Your concern is more about what you want, making your point, making them hear you, and defending yourself.


Remember, we have these conversations to look at ourselves and see how we can improve ourselves. Are you being selfish and self-centered?

Let’s recap:

Hard time listening?


Can you take constructive criticism?


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