Are there degrees of selfishness

Selfishness: when is it healthy?

egoism can be summed up very quickly: I, I and again me ... Egoists have a difficult time in their environment. Those who constantly and at every opportunity focus on themselves, are only concerned with their own benefit and are even ready to help others To take advantage of one's own advantage shouldn't be surprised if it meets with rejection. You're so selfish. Anyone who is a true artist of selfishness does not allow himself to be irritated by such criticism. But there is another side that receives less attention: Selfishness can be healthy. For this to work, however, you shouldn't overdo it ...

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Definition: what characterizes egoism?

The term egoism comes from the Latin (ego = I) and means something like self-love or, in a somewhat weakened form, at least self-interest. But it doesn't stop there and there are many other synonyms for egoism in linguistic usage:

  • Selfishness
  • Selfishness
  • Self-centeredness
  • Egoism
  • narcissism
  • Self-obsession
  • Selfishness
  • Self love
  • Selfishness
  • Infatuation

In the Duden, egoism is described as a ...

Attitude that is characterized by striving to gain advantages for oneself, to fulfill one's own wishes without considering the claims of others.

Egoism means thinking only of yourself, only out of my own interest to act and - if necessary - to accept when decisions or actions harm others.

However, it would be wrong to view egoism in an exclusively negative way. This is only appropriate when the selfish behavior becomes extreme. In other cases it is healthy selfishness quite sensible and appropriate.

If your desires are not in line with what other people want from you and you are treated badly, healthy egoism is sometimes even necessary and serves as more important Self protection. Without any selfishness, you will most likely be exploited and it is almost impossible to achieve your own goals.

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The causes behind selfish behavior

There are quite a few in everyday life unmistakable evidencethat you can spot an egoist. Even individual decisions or behaviors show whether someone thinks mainly of themselves and their own benefit. The colleague in the job who constantly pushes himself into focus and claims praise and recognition for himself alone. Such a person radiates egoism.

Also who at every opportunity die Elbow extendsA typical egoist is a typical egoist who deliberately stands in the way of the development of others and is only concerned with getting ahead.

However, egoism does not just arise out of a whim, and it would also be wrong to assume that an egoist is just trying to make your life harder. The obvious selfishness is mostly behind it different reasonthat can influence the personality towards selfish thinking.

  • Lack of feeling

    Perhaps the person has missed out in the past and still feels a lack in a certain area. In doing so, she overshots the target because she has no feeling for the right amount.

  • stress

    Those who are under pressure and feel stressed develop tunnel vision. Then the person is only focused on their goal and neither looks to the left nor to the right.

  • Feeling of inferiority

    A person defines himself through certain things, otherwise he feels worthless. To achieve this, she goes about the wishes of others in the best elbow manner.

  • Frustration intolerance

    Those who do not know what to do without and are used to getting something immediately always put their own needs above those of others. Somebody like that is not able to put himself on the back burner or act altruistically.

  • Lack of empathy

    Someone who cannot empathize with others and is not empathic at all may never have learned to look at things from other people's perspective. As a result, he assumes that certain things are due to him, as a kind of common law.

Calling someone selfish is selfish

Have you ever been labeled as selfish? Or do you have someone yourself accused of selfishness? This happens more often at work. If you don't jump right away to help your colleagues with a task, you have to be an egoist and don't care about mutual success. Quite ugly words and accusations that can be very hurtful.

Hardly anyone thinks that they have succumbed to egoism and it is difficult to put up with this reproach. The good news: You don't even have to. If someone calls you an egoist, it basically just shows that the other person is at least as concerned about their own benefit - or perhaps acts much more selfishly.

The mesh is simple, always the same and yet enormously effective: Assume the other person is selfish, wait until the feelings of guilt set in and manipulate the behavior in such a way that it fits your own ideas.

In a nutshell: Anyone who says someone else is selfish is only thinking of themselves. Because we expect a different behavior from the person concerned - one from which we benefit ourselves. The accusation You're just always so selfish ... is itself egoism in its purest form, which you should expose as such.

Egoism determines large parts of action

The exact opposite of egoism - namely altruism, selflessness - is developing more and more into an ideal. The friendly, far-sighted and good person does not think of himself, but of others. Anytime.

This goes so far that we admire people who put their personal interests behind others for their behavior. Again and again one reads or hears of stories in which people seem to be completely altruistic restrained and we can do nothing but be amazed in appreciation.

In fact, egoism is the more common trait. After all, everyone is next to himself and so one rarely manages to act unselfishly. Expressed differently: Almost everything we do is selfish. This sounds like an exaggeration, but it is much closer to reality than you might think.

Even in voluntary work, which at first glance is completely altruistic, selfish factors play a role. This is proven by a study (PDF) at Bielefeld University: People who volunteer do so not just out of interest in the common good or as a good day. Some just want to calm their own conscience and still others enjoy the recognition. They want to talk about their volunteer work in order to gain respect and improve their own reputation - a thoroughly selfish motive.

It's similar in the job: If we do our best at work, if we hope for a raise or a promotion at some point, if we make compromises, we usually only do so if we can get our way anyway and even when we offer to help someone, we often have in mind that they will eventually owe us a favor.

This is the case in many areas. We like to pretend that we are not selfish, but the truth is that even this false self-image is often due to selfishness. We don't want to be seen as egoists in order to be better perceived and assessed by others - which in turn is a form of egoism.

Test: How selfish are you?

How the test works

The test consists of nine questions. After each question there is a letter, make a note of how often you have chosen which answer option. At the end you will get to the evaluation using the respective letter.

Please note: This is primarily an experience test, which means that it is intended to help you with your self-assessment. He can't do any psychological counseling replace.

  1. You made a mistake at work. How are you acting?
    • I put the blame on my colleague - he's annoying half the staff anyway. A.
    • How embarrassing. I pledge that this will never happen again. C.
    • To err is human. Shouldn't have happened, but I tell my boss that I can iron this out again. B.
  2. You want to go away for a long weekend and want to have an extra day of vacation. Your partner has already taken time off. Your colleague now has the same vacation request. How do you react?
    • Before it turns into disputes, he can have the day off. C.
    • We will definitely come to an agreement. There are a number of bridging days so that we can both have a long weekend. B.
    • I do not give in. If necessary, I will simply get “sick” on the corresponding day. A.
  3. How do you feel about the statement: Everyone is next to himself.
    • I can fully identify with that. A.
    • That doesn't do people justice. C.
    • Every now and then you have to act like this. B.
  4. You are helping a colleague move. What thanks do you expect?
    • For that he should at least help me with my move. A.
    • A little gift, maybe a cinema voucher. B.
    • I was happy to do that, I don't need anything in return. C.
  5. Are you more of a team worker or lone fighter at work?
    • If you want something to be done right, you have to do it yourself. A.
    • The best results are achieved in a team, and I enjoy exchanging ideas with colleagues. C.
    • Well, you could do without some colleagues, but by and large it works. B.
  6. Do you value fair trade products?
    • No - it's just expensive and, in the end, probably the same. A.
    • Yes - I think about working conditions in other countries. C.
    • Sometimes yes, there are really nice things. B.
  7. The queue at the box office is very long. How are you acting?
    • I'm trying to push my way forward somehow. A.
    • At some point it will be my turn. C.
    • That's annoying, I express my displeasure. B.
  8. Over lunch, your colleague says that the boss praised him for his work. How do you react?
    • I listen carefully and am happy for him. C.
    • I ask interested questions and comment on the whole thing. B.
    • I'll tell you how well my project has been received recently. A.
  9. Your colleague asks you if you can do your work for you. How do you react?
    • I declare that even with all the work I can no longer look out of my eyes. A.
    • Of course I will help her. She won't ask for no reason. C.
    • It's a bit annoying because I always finish on time myself, but I can take on part of it. B.

Evaluation of the self-test

They mostly have A: Here is your evaluation (PDF)
They mostly have B: Here is your evaluation (PDF)
They mostly have C: Here is your evaluation (PDF)

Good reasons for selfishness: Think of yourself more often

Before you find yourself caught out and feeling bad because it turns out that you are selfish every now and then, this is - to a certain extent - even good for you! You are such an egoist. Such allegations are aimed at you apparent flaw in character. However, egoism only becomes false and harmful when it exceeds a certain point.

However, such extreme forms of egoism are rarely found. Therefore, if you are not overdoing it, you should be glad to have some selfishness. If you always want to please everyone, you forget yourself.

Even if it is difficult for you because you do not want to be labeled as an egoist, you should not deny yourself and only think about the others. From these four good reasons you should also be selfish:

  1. You are pursuing your goals

    In order to persistently and ambitiously pursue your own goals, you need a healthy dose of selfishness. This path will not always please everyone, you will face a lot of criticism. Those who cannot be a little selfish here allow themselves to be dissuaded from their goal or may even pursue a goal that is not their own.

  2. They accept the behavior of others

    Your own egoism not only helps you to better understand the behavior of others, but also to accept it. If you allow yourself to just think of yourself at times, you will also be able to understand why a colleague or friend might do the same thing. This way, differences of opinion and arguments can be avoided.

  3. You develop more self-confidence

    If you only think about others, you are damaging your own self-esteem. Through selfishness you get to know yourself better, you know what is important to you, where your strengths lie and how you use them. If, on the other hand, you are never selfish, the feeling arises that you are always acting for others and not accomplishing anything yourself.

  4. You will be happier

    Yes, altruism also makes you happy and helpfulness is good. But when you learn to listen to your own needs and go about your own desires, you will become happier and happier. Egoism also provides new strength and energy by listening to yourself and going the path that you think is right for yourself.

Tips: How to defend yourself against selfishness

Everyone is entitled to healthy egoism and is an important aspect of the personality in order not to be exploited - this applies in a partnership and also in professional life. But since it is well known that the dose makes the poison, it can also be too much of a good thing. Who overdo it with selfishness, quickly drives his environment crazy, earns a bad reputation and shouldn't be surprised if he gets more and more sidelined.

But also that Dealing with egoism can present some challenges. What is the best way to behave when someone seeks their own advantage at your expense? What should you say Pay attention to It is not enough to just recognize an egoist as such, you also have to react correctly in order not to be exploited.

We have three tips collected with which you can defend yourself against egoism and assert yourself:

  • Set clear boundaries

    Driven by their egoism, many egoists try to to harness others to their own cart and use it to achieve your own goals. However, it never occurs to you yourself to lift a finger for someone else. Instead, they love to put their names under the work or ideas of colleagues.

    Counteract egoism by setting clear boundaries and learning, To say no. Healthy selfishness is a great way to combat excessive selfishness.

  • Believe in yourself

    Anyone who has problems with other people's egoism can strengthen their position and hold against it through greater self-confidence. Remember, offering help is important, but it should always be based on reciprocity. You don't always have to bend over to please everyone else.

    It is wrong, just keep your head down and do what others say. Try to get your way more often, to stand by your opinion and to keep your personal goals in view.

  • Communicate openly and directly

    Egoism often works subliminally and quietly. It is rarely the big, headstrong behaviors that immediately catch the eye and attract attention. Often they are small, almost inconspicuous thingsthat reveal selfishness.

    A proven strategy is to address them openly and directly and thus to get out of its shadowy existence. Address the fact that a colleague is currently behaving very selfishly and thinks little or no about the community.

    However, you should also remember that such an overt attack Defiance and defensive attitudes can cause. If you decide to proceed in this way, it can lead to a dispute as nobody wants to be accused of their own wrongdoing.

Sayings and quotes about egoism

Finally, we have a few more Sayings and quotes on the subject of selfishness put together that can inspire and stimulate thought.

  • Selfishness consists in making one's fortune at the expense of others.Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire
  • Egoism is not a principle, but a fact.Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Charity lives with a thousand souls, selfishness with a single one, and that is pathetic.Marie Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach
  • If you want to make a career these days, you have to be a bit of a man eater.Salvador Dali
  • An egoist is a person who doesn't think of me.Eugene Labiche
  • Selfishness is loneliness.Friedrich Schiller
  • Selfishness is not about living how you want to, but about asking others to live how you want to.Oscar Wilde
  • Thinking in your own way is not selfish. If you don't think in your own way, you don't think at all.Oscar Wilde
  • Our whole society is built on the self. That is her curse, and it must perish from it.Theodor Fontane
  • The colder, more calculating, and more careful we are, the less we are exposed to the attacks of ridicule. Selfishness can be hideous, but it's not ridiculous because it's very sensible.Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin

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February 23, 2019Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. In the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studying, starting a career and everyday office life.

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