Life would undeniably be so much more miserable if everyone was selfish.
Even with that knowledge, however, too many of us are still inclined to believe we don’t owe anyone anything.
But what would the world look like with people who only looked after themselves? What would your life be like if you never received help from your peers? If you had parents who are too self-obsessed to look after you?
Perhaps we were blessed with the existence of generous people to balance out the selfishness of others, as they give more than they take; look after the welfare of others; and would never think twice to help someone in need.
With that said, what are the things selfish people do that generous people don’t? Read more below to find out.
1) Having a “me, myself, and I” attitude
Selfish people live in a one-way street.
They like to be at the receiving end of every effort in every relationship, often taking too much without giving back anything. It’s always “me, myself, and I” for them.
If you had a selfish friend or partner in the past, you probably know what I mean—they expect you to always be there for them when they need you, but they’re nowhere to be found when they’re needed, and it’s so frustrating!
Generous people, on the other hand, are the exact opposite.
They give more than they take because their actions are motivated by a passion to help others rather than a desire to benefit. That’s what makes them so empathetic and kind.
2) Lacking empathy and kindness
Selfish people have a hard time practicing empathy and kindness, because their focus is primarily on themselves and their own needs. They often have little to no regard for your needs and feelings, which means they don’t take the time to consider how their actions or words affect you.
Additionally, research has shown that empathy and kindness are closely linked to our brain’s ability to recognize and respond to other people’s emotions.
People who are less able to do this may struggle to understand why it is important to be kind and empathetic, which results in selfishness.
Meanwhile, generous people have empathy and kindness because their desire to help and share what they have comes from a place of understanding other people’s struggles. They feel the need to help if it means being able to lighten someone’s load.
Unlike your selfish people who might lack remorse when they hurt you, generous people feel a certain kind of caring that makes them hurt as well when they hurt other people.
3) Having a lack of remorse
Lacking remorse is a common trait of a selfish person.
Because they prioritize their own wants and needs above your feelings and well-being, they might act in a way that hurts you without feeling any guilt or remorse about it.
If you’ve ever tried to confront a partner for something they did that hurt you and you ended up being gaslit into believing it’s “not that bad,” that’s a sign that they’re selfish.
This is because selfish partners are unable to look past their own needs and feelings to recognize yours.
This lack of remorse might be because of an inability to care about others or just plain ignorance, but regardless, they act without considering the consequences. Who cares if one or two people get hurt if they get what they want in the end?
Generous people are the opposite.
They often feel remorseful when they think they have not done enough to help you, or that they have not been able to help everyone who needs their help.
Because they’re compassionate and empathetic, they naturally feel guilt when they hurt or are unable to help you, which automatically means they won’t hesitate to apologize when they do.
4) Never apologizing
Because selfish people often have a hard time feeling empathy, they also struggle to understand how their actions could affect you. They often don’t see the need to apologize because they’re unable to understand why their behavior was hurtful in the first place.
Some selfish people might also have a fear of vulnerability, which means they avoid admitting their faults as it requires them to open up and be human. Instead, they will often choose to prioritize their own image or self-esteem over the need to be vulnerable.
If they have gotten away scot-free from their mistakes in the past, selfish people might not see the need to apologize because they think they can always get away with anything without repercussions.
On the other hand, generous people are capable of saying sorry when they’ve done something wrong. Sometimes, they might even end up being too apologetic due to an immense feeling of guilt.
This is because they don’t like hurting other people’s feelings or even causing the slightest inconvenience, because their generosity makes them want to give everyone a space where they can feel safe.
5) Being cheap with other people
Selfish people are often generous with themselves, but cheap with other people. They usually spend lavishly on themselves while neglecting the needs of others.
If you grew up with a selfish parent, you probably saw them burning money on expensive things such as jewelry and clothes, but when it came to you, they either neglected your needs or gave you the cheapest possible option. It’s always them above others, even if “others” is their own family.
On the other hand, if you’ve had a generous parent who understands the value of giving, you might have grown up with them giving more than they could. They might even have gotten indebted to others just to give you what you needed as a child.
I, for one, had a very generous grandmother who gave money to our relatives who needed it even if she herself needed the money, too. She gave clothes to our neighbors who tragically had their house burned down, and this memory continues to live in their family even after she’d passed.
This is because generous people believe in the positive impact that giving can have on the world. They are willing to share their resources, time, and talents with others, and they often find joy in doing so.
6) Being manipulative to get what they want
Selfish people will do anything to get what they want.
They will often use various manipulation tactics such as deception, flattery, or even coercion to get what they want from you without hesitation or remorse.
A selfish partner, for instance, will make you feel guilty for not giving them what they wanted so you end up giving it anyway, even if it’s against your wishes. Often, you won’t even realize they’re guilt-tripping you until you tell someone else about it.
A generous partner, on the other hand, will never resort to manipulation to get what they want from you. Their actions are not driven by self-benefit—instead, they are motivated by a genuine desire to help and support you without expecting anything in return.
7) Hogging the spotlight
Selfish people often hog the spotlight because they want all the attention and recognition to themselves. Your selfish classmate or co-worker probably often seeks out opportunities to shine and showcase their talents or accomplishments, even when the situation doesn’t call for it.
If you’re a highly accomplished person, you might even find them trying to outshine you often.
Try to observe their behavior: if they dominate conversations, cut you or other people off when speaking, or actively fish for other people’s compliments by denigrating themselves, those are signs of a selfish, attention-seeking person.
Take this behavior as a sign that’s your sign to stay away from them.
Trust me: you’re better off without such a person in your life.
Conversely, generous people will never hog the spotlight all to themselves—and sometimes, even deny credit—because their actions are not rooted from a desire to get praise and acclaim.
Their goal is not to be recognized, but to help in a way that can change other people’s lives in meaningful ways.
8) Thinking they don’t owe anyone anything
At some point, all of us have thought, at least once, that we don’t owe anyone anything.
This might be because we were raised to fend for ourselves or have gone through a tough time where no one was there to help us.
But when you meet kind, generous people, you start to get a better understanding of the world. You start to realize that we all owe each other kindness.
Selfish people might be selfish because they have not gotten to that point yet. They may feel that they have worked hard to achieve what they have, and therefore, do not owe anyone anything.
It’s generous people who never think they “don’t owe anyone anything.” They think they owe it to others to be kind, which is why they’re so charitable—and maybe we could learn a thing or two from them, because the world truly needs more kindness and generosity.
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