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Self-Centered People: 40 Signs & Ways to Change Yourself or Deal with One

Self-centered people are not fun to be around. So, if you’re guilty of being one, or you know someone who is, it’s time that you do something about it.

self-centered person

Egocentric. Individualistic. Self-centered. Selfish. Conceited. Know-it-all. Egomaniac.

Call it what you may, but they all mean the same thing. Being self-centered may be great for you, as it puts you in the center of attention, but for everyone else, it’s a real nightmare.

What many self-centered people don’t realize is just how self-centered they really are. They strongly believe that they can do no wrong… Because they’re too absorbed in their own greatness to even notice. It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? [Read: 20 secrets to stop being selfish and ways to stop hurting and using others]

The truth about being self-centered

If you refuse to acknowledge that you are not, in fact, the best in the world, here’s a wake-up call: There are 7 billion people in the world, and the odds are high that someone will be smarter than you, better-looking than you, stronger than you, richer than you, and even more likable than you. 

What can and will set you apart from the madding crowd is how gracefully you behave, whatever your accomplishments may be.

There’s no need to be boastful. There’s no need to inform others of how much you’ve done or make it seem like you’re the only one capable of making it happen. Because at the end of the day, no one really cares about what award you won, how much money you made, or the people you know.

What they will care about is how good you made them feel, and self-centered people rarely make people feel good. [Read: Why do I push people away? 37 signs, reasons & ways to stop pushing]

You have probably been told on more than one occasion how annoying your behavior is or how brash you can be. So it’s time to do a bit of self-assessment and figure out the reason why people are reacting so negatively toward you.

If you don’t try to change, you will miss out on important connections and opportunities, not to mention risk spending the rest of your life sans meaningful relationships with lovers, friends, and family. [Read: 45 positive & negative personality traits that can change your life forever!]

What are the causes of self-centeredness?

Of course, you might wonder how people become self-centered in the first place. Is being self-centered a personality trait they were born with, or does something happen along the way that causes a switch to turn?

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that self-centeredness is developed over time based on their upbringing, some cases being so severe that a person’s self-centeredness is a product of a personality disorder.

However, this isn’t the only answer to how people become self-centered. 

If a person goes through a difficult time, perhaps a traumatic relationship or a period of time when they have been forced into loneliness, self-centeredness can be developed as a coping mechanism to protect them from their feelings. [Read: Wear your heart on your sleeve – 17 reasons to be open]

How do people become self-centered from loneliness?

You might wonder how this can happen. If someone has spent a certain amount of time alone, they’re going to become self-dependent, but why would they become self-centered as a result?

This won’t be the case for every single person who has been through a lonely time in their lives, but it can turn a switch that causes them to focus entirely on themselves out of survival. 

As we stated earlier, from trauma comes coping mechanisms, one of them being self-centeredness. It’s a protection technique, a way of keeping them out of harm’s way, almost like a wall they build around themselves.

Depending upon the degree of trauma, they may end up turning inward, therefore focusing on themselves and not daring to open up to others.

Self-centeredness is also a trait of those who may be suffering from psychiatric illnesses, such as addiction, depression, anxiety, or personality disorders.

However, just because someone is suffering through a difficult mental health period in their lives, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to become self-centered. [Read: Dating someone with depression -23 signs and truths you MUST know]

Exercise a certain amount of caution when wondering how people become self-centered…there is no single right or wrong answer to it.

We’re all unique, every single one of us. What makes one person angry would make another person barely flinch, what makes one person very happy would have no effect on another person. This is what makes us special.

Specific circumstances in someone’s life can have different effects; a trauma may easily make one person quite self-centered as a defense mechanism but have zero effect on someone else. 

With that in mind, we can only speculate on how people become self-centered in reality. [Read: The power of your words can make or break your relationship with people]

Is it good to be self-centered? 

This is not an easy question to ask because it really depends on the person and their situation. So, sometimes it’s good to be self-centered, but most of the time it’s not.

The times that it’s okay to be self-centered is if you’re in a relationship with someone who is self-centered and controlling themselves.

If you’re not self-centered, then they will walk all over you and you’ll be a doormat. [Read: Stand up for yourself – why it’s hard and steps to get what you want and deserve]

So, part of being self-centered can be loving yourself enough to stand up for your own wants and needs and not letting people take advantage of you. That’s what everyone should do out of self-love, but not necessarily self-centeredness.

However, if you are a self-centered and controlling person, then it’s not good. It’s never okay to take advantage of other people and not care about their feelings, wants, and needs in favor of your own.

As you can see, there is a fine line where self-centeredness is acceptable *or even necessary* and when it’s not. It’s important to remember this line at all times. [Read: Controlling vs. caring – a thin line controlling people love to cross]

Signs that a person is self-centered

Self-centeredness puts you before everyone else. It assumes that you’re more important, but it does go a little deeper than that too.

Here are some characteristics of a self-centered person.

1. Defensiveness

A self-centered person is always defensive. They see the world purely through their own eyes. As a result, they won’t stand for anyone who doesn’t agree or sees it differently. [Read: Why do people get defensive? Reasons and ways to handle them]

2. Thinks the entire world revolves around them

In any life event, a self-centered person will only want to focus on how it affects them. They tend to think they are the center of the universe, and that nothing else matters except for their own needs.

3. Bullying

Self-centered people can also be quite bullying to others. They will dominate the entire scene in a relationship or friendship.

They don’t care about other people’s feelings – they only care about what they want and will do anything to get it. [Read: Emotional bullying – how to recognize a bully and stand your ground]

4. Always thinks they’re better than everyone else

If someone has something which they perceive to be better or high quality, a self-centered person must have it for themselves. If this isn’t the case, it’s because they think that they have everything and are better than everyone else.

5. Uses others to get what they want

They have no problem taking advantage of other people. If they think that using others will get them what they want or where they want to go, then they will do it.

There is no one that a self-centered person won’t step on to get to the top. [Read: 16 signs a user can’t hide when they’re using you]

6. Believes that their opinion is the right one

If you have ever met someone who is self-centered *or if you are yourself*, then you probably know just how extremely opinionated they can be.

If someone disagrees with them about anything, they won’t acknowledge the other person’s opinion. That’s because they “know” they are right. They close themselves off from other perspectives because they are never wrong in their own eyes.

7. Doesn’t have much empathy

Empathy is the ability to see things from other people’s perspectives, not just your own. And self-centered people can’t do that.

In order to be empathetic, you need to be other-oriented, and that characteristic is a complete contrast to their selfish ways.

8. Will very happily tear another person down to build themselves up

Believe it or not, self-centered people don’t have very high self-esteem. They have a constant need to make themselves look good. And one of the ways they do this is to tear other people down so they look better than them. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and ways to deal with them]

9. Can be arrogant and overconfident

Although self-centered people typically have low self-esteem, they come across as arrogant and overconfident.

This trait can be hard to see because self-centered people put on a façade to mask their insecurities. Regardless, they act like they’re better than everyone else.

10. Selfish

Not surprisingly, self-centered people are selfish and will do whatever they want, regardless of how it upsets or affects those around them.

They only care about getting their own needs and wants met. They don’t care about anyone else’s. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

11. Has one-sided conversations

For most people, it’s important to have an equal exchange during a conversation.

But self-centered people hog the conversation and hardly let anyone else get a word in edgewise. Whether it’s talking about themselves or something they’re interested in, they just monopolize every conversation.

12. Doesn’t reciprocate the effort

If their partner plans a wonderful birthday for them and showers them with gifts and love, they won’t do the same for their partner on their birthday. They are just “takers” and never give to anyone else. Nothing is reciprocated. [Read: 19 signs of a taker in a relationship – are you a giver or a taker?]

13. Consistently lacks perspective

Most people try to look at life from different perspectives other than their own. They can pull back and see the big picture. But self-centered people can’t do that because they lack perspective. All they see is their own wants.

14. Thinks rules don’t apply to them

Because self-centered people think they are better than other people, then they think they don’t have to do what the “average” person has to. So, they think they are above following the rules and they don’t apply to them – just to others.

15. Inconsiderate

Someone who is self-centered doesn’t think about how their actions and words negatively affect other people. This, of course, is because they are absorbed in themselves. [Read: Stop the craziness in life – how to deal with rude people]

16. Controlling

Because they think that they are above other people, they feel like they have the right to control other people. They are constantly telling others what they can and can’t do because they think they are “king” or “queen” and others are their subjects.

17. Unable to receive or respond to feedback

When someone brings up their concerns about the self-centered person’s behavior or words, they become defensive and unable to receive or respond to feedback. [Read: 46 secrets to deal with a narcissist, break them, and handle their petty games]

They shut down and just don’t think that there is anything wrong with them, so they tune it out.

This behavior isn’t always ill-intended. For instance, maybe you’re going through a difficult period in your life. You show signs of this type of behavior to help you cope.

Complete a regular check-in with yourself and evaluate how you’re feeling and how you’re treating those around you.  It can help you to identify whether or not you should change the way you interact with those in your circle. [Read: Sense of self – what it is, 36 signs, tips, and steps to raise it and feel great]

How to not fall into the trap

The fact is, people are complex. You might not have the first clue that you show signs of this type of behavior. Someone with a narcissistic approach to life is definitely unaware of it.

When you experience a traumatic event in life, it is important to not turn off your empathy. We all go through difficult times and deal with problems. Embracing those around us and being open-hearted and kind is the best way through it. 

By allowing yourself to become self-centered and pulling back from people, you create a pattern of behavior that will spiral over time.

Before you know it, you’ll be hemorrhaging friends. Nobody wants to or should put up with someone who is self-centered all the time. [Read: Selfless vs. selfish love – understanding the traits that set them apart]

How to stop being such a self-centered person

Here are actions you can take to stop being so self-centered, or at least be more aware of your attitude, so you can take the necessary steps to change it.

1. Start paying attention to how people respond to you

If you take a second to stop focusing on yourself, you will be able to tell if someone is feeling upset, annoyed, or just plain bored. [Read: Am I a self-centered narcissist? Simple questions to reveal the answer]

Pay attention to their tone of voice and whether their answers are curt. These are telltale indications that they are on the brink of walking away.

As telling as emotions are, don’t forget to pay attention to their body language. Nonverbal communication is just as important in gauging how someone feels about you. 

For example, if the people you’re with have their arms crossed, are leaning backward, and are not making much eye contact with you, they are not huge fans of the conversation, or you, for that matter. [Read: Subtle body language moves to appear more confident]

Positive indications include plenty of eye contact, leaning in towards you, and standing with their feet slightly apart, with their arms loosely at their sides. Participation in the conversation is also a good sign.

Keep in mind that it is not just how people react to you in the present moment but also when you’re apart. 

Take your friends and colleagues, for example. Do they initiate contact and meet-ups with you? Are you one of the top invitees if there’s ever a get-together?

Paying attention to whether people want to spend time with you is also another telling sign of whether they like you. [Read: Why does everyone hate me? 69 things you do that people probably don’t like!]

2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

Say you’re out with someone for coffee, and they’re telling you about the bad day that they had. Think about what you would like to hear in response if you were the one sharing.

Would you want that person to hijack the conversation and make it all about them? And would you want that person to ignore everything that you just said and bring up a completely unrelated topic? 

That doesn’t sound too pleasant, right? Well, that’s exactly how others feel when you try to make everything about you. [Read: How to show empathy and learn to understand someone else’s feelings]

If you’re trying to be less self-centered, one way to do so is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Listen to what your friend is saying, smile, nod, and politely contribute to the conversation by asking related questions and offering sound advice without making it all about you.

3. Remember that people have their own lives too

People have their own ups and downs to deal with. It’s completely normal to want to be in the company of people you like, but when those people simply don’t have the time for you, don’t hold it against them. 

They’re not being jerks by refusing your invitation. They’re just living their lives.

Always be sure to consider the situations of the people you’re talking to because you never know just how selfish you sound, until you hear it from someone else. 

4. Get to know the people around you

From colleagues to neighbors to the parking lot attendant you see twice a day, be friendly. Don’t you find it odd that you see these people on a regular basis, but you know nothing about them?

Everyone probably knows your life story thanks to your storytelling tirades, but whose life story do you genuinely know?

Get to know the people around you, and you will gain insight into the things you’ve missed out on while you were too busy focusing on yourself. [Read: How to be more social – 22 ways to genuinely connect with others]

5. Be proud, but don’t brag

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements. 

It’s not easy accomplishing something in today’s highly competitive world, so rightfully so, you should be happy about what you’ve done. With that being said, no one likes a showoff.

Always be modest when publicizing your successes. One way to do so is to recognize the help that you’ve received and to thank those who were there to lift you up. [Read: Proper social etiquette – 19 signs and traits that make you classy & likable]

6. Do something nice for everyone you care about

You can also kick self-centeredness to the curb by doing something nice for those you care about without expecting anything in return. You don’t have to do anything extravagant. Simple things that remind them that you care about them will suffice.

Everything from sending your best buddies a meme that reminds you of them to sending your colleagues a postcard from your annual getaway destination, little gestures like these will show them that you care enough about them to reach out to them.

7. Get involved in volunteering

Volunteering will help you quickly come to the painful realization that there are far more important things in the world than you.

Remember that donating cash is not enough because the heart of volunteering lies in the time and effort you actually spend to help others out.

Whether you end up fighting for animal rights, human rights, raising awareness on HIV/AIDS, or anything else that you feel particularly passionate about, lend a hand to those in need, as it will open your eyes to a whole new world.  [Read: Ways to bring out the best in yourself]

8. Let those close to you know what you’re doing

Just like quitting smoking or laying off the vodka, you have to be 100% ready to get rid of self-centeredness if you want to change. 

You also need to inform those close to you that you are going on this journey so that they can support you and prompt you every time it seems like you’re falling back into the gaping hole of selfishness.

Let them know that it is all right to call you out and tell you off. Just remember not to get offended. This is all for your own good, and you will find that the world will be a much more pleasant place to live in once you change your mindset.

Always remember to practice modesty and be more attentive to those around you.

Changing the way you think and the way you approach everyday life is not the simplest thing in the world to achieve, but if you make an effort, there is no reason why you won’t be able to get there. [Read: How to change for your partner without compromising or losing YOU]

How to deal with self-centered people

If you’re not a self-centered person, but you know people who are, then it can be difficult to deal with them. That’s why you also need to know how to deal with these types of people.

In some ways, we’re all self-centered to a healthy degree. It’s perfectly normal and encouraged to have a certain amount of self-care and self-respect. 

If not, we risk being taken advantage of and used.

Most of us have encountered a self-centered person. The good thing is self-centered people are easy to spot. The hard part is not being absorbed by their toxicity.

When you’re around self-centered people, they love to talk about themselves and are dismissive of other people’s opinions and views. In other words, it’s all about them—literally. 

It’s time for some self-care—and boundaries! [Read: The truth – why people are mean and extra rude to happy and nice people]

1. Accept who they are

Sure, you can try to change them, but you’re only wasting your time. The best thing you can do is accept who they are. 

Not for them, but for yourself. When it comes to learning how to deal with self-centered people, you need to remember that this person may never consider your needs. Be aware and acknowledge that.

Even though this person is a family member or friend, they don’t care about how you feel. By understanding this, you know exactly where you stand with them. [Read: How to stop negative people from dragging you down]

2. How important is this person? 

Is this a colleague? Someone you don’t really need to communicate with? Or is this person very important in your life, such as a good friend or family member? 

Even then, think about whether or not this person is essential for your life. Would this person care if you cut ties with them?

3. Look at your options

Even though you may not think you have many options, you do. There are always options, but you may be too scared to choose one.

You have a couple of choices. You can continue the relationship or end it. It’s really up to you. 

If you choose to continue, then you need to change the way you handle this relationship because right now, it’s toxic.

4. Create boundaries

Ah, yes, boundaries. They’re hard to maintain but crucial for your mental well-being. Creating boundaries is a challenge because this person is probably not going to respect them. [Read: 23 secrets to set personal boundaries and guide other people to respect them]

But that’s the thing about boundaries, you create them so you can hold them up. To maintain self-respect and self-care, decide what you’re not going to tolerate and live by those decisions.

5. Stop doing favors for them

You probably run around like a chicken with your head cut off doing things for them without a thank you or reciprocation. It’s time to stop that. 

You’re not a welcome mat for them to stomp their feet on. It may be hard to say no, but if you don’t do it, they’ll never stop using you for their own personal gain. [Read: How to say no, stop people pleasing and feel awesome instead]

6. Stay true to yourself

This person may try to push your buttons and put you in a situation that will bring out the worst in you. But whatever happens, you need to stay true to yourself. 

Sometimes. people will play games to get what they want, so avoid falling into the trap. If you’re experiencing feelings of anger or frustration, step back and reevaluate the situation. [Read: How to be true to yourself and start living life on your terms]

7. Limit the time you spend with them

That is if you can. If they’re someone you work with, that can be a challenge. But it’s important to give yourself space from that person. If you go for walks every night together, space the date further apart. You’re not ghosting them, simply giving yourself the space you need.

8. Pick your battles

There are going to be times when you’re feeling frustrated, but you need to be selective with the battles you choose to fight. Or else, it will exhaust you. 

Fighting over every little thing is emotionally draining, and frankly, you don’t need that. Take a deep breath, remember self-care, and let it go.

9. Surround yourself with other people

This person isn’t doing you any favors. Whether they’re a friend, family member, or colleague, focus on surrounding yourself with more positive and supportive people. Seek people who pay attention to you and actively engage and have an interest in your life.

10. Learn from this

You encountered your first selfish person, but there are millions more of them in the world. You need to learn from this experience and understand the signs of a selfish person. 

Use this in your future experiences because you will meet another person just like them. It’s only a matter of time. [Read: How to stop being a doormat and allowing people to use you]

11. Don’t hate them

Whatever you do, don’t hate a self-centered person. It’s really not worth the time and energy. Instead, show compassion. Most self-centered people are trying hard to cover a part of themselves or their lives they want to be hidden. 

If anything, they lack the skills to communicate in a healthy manner. So, don’t hate them. Understand them, but also have boundaries.

12. Find ways to cope if you cannot disengage

Sometimes, you can’t get away from a self-centered person very easily. Perhaps they are your parent, sibling, spouse, boss, or live-in partner. Either way, you will still need to find some coping strategies.

You could try walking away or occupying yourself with something else so you can avoid them as much as you possibly can. Or maybe even try some therapy if you can’t disengage yourself very well. [Read: How to deal with selfish friends and recognize the ones that hurt you]

13. Be realistic with your expectations

If you have accepted them as they are – and know you can’t change them – then you will just have to be realistic with your expectations. Self-centered people don’t behave the same way as people who aren’t that way.

So, just remember that you’re not going to get very good behavior out of them. You can hope and dream all you want, but they probably won’t change.

14. Tell them how you feel

Self-centered people can also be oblivious to their selfish ways. They might not even know how their behavior is negatively affecting you.

So, that’s why you need to tell them how you feel. It may or may not make a difference, but at least you can sleep at night knowing you tried. Don’t expect them to change, but at least you have a shot if you stand up for yourself.

15. Know when it’s time to cut them off

As we said, you have two options: maintain the relationship or leave.

It’s understandable if this person is a close family member, and in that case, follow the above steps. But if you don’t need this person in your life, move on.

Don’t surround yourself with their toxic and selfish energy because it will only deflect onto you. [Read: How to let go of a relationship – 17 things to do to walk away unhurt]

Can a self-centered person change? 

The likelihood of a self-centered person changing is quite low, but not completely impossible. And even if they do change, they probably won’t change on their own and you can’t do it for them either. 

Don’t bother trying to change them because you will just make yourself crazy if you do. All you can really do is create strong boundaries so you don’t get taken advantage of.

The only time that a self-centered person might change is if they have a lot of negative consequences of their selfishness in their lives.

But even then, they probably won’t know how to make the change. They will probably need the help of a therapist in order to develop new behaviors and ways of existing in the world. This kind of change takes a lot of work and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

[Read: How to recognize selfish people instantly and stop them from hurting you]

Being around a selfish person can be extremely draining. Whether you are self-centered yourself, or you know other people who are, it’s important to try to make your relationships much healthier and happier.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...