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Selfish People

by Dr. Sidney Langston

Through the years I’ve counseled many selfish people. I’ve also counseled many people who have been mistreated by selfish people in their lives.


Recently I talked with a woman whose estranged father selfishly neglected and abused her and other family members (in non-sexual ways) when she was a child. Her dad neglected the needs of his family while he pursued meeting his own needs. He always wore the finest clothes, had the most up-to-date “adult toys,” did what he wanted when he wanted—all without any regard for how his behavior was affecting his family. Because of his selfish disregard, all of his children became estranged from him, with some even refusing to see him once they left home.


My client was angry when her dad contacted her and said, “Can we meet to discuss what WE did to each other when you were a little girl?” As her tears flowed and her body trembled, she said, “I didn’t do anything to him; he selfishly neglected and abused his family. And now he wants me to assume some responsibility for this broken relationship, and I just cannot do it.”


This father’s behavior is a blatant example of gross selfishness. Selfishness, by definition, is having such regard for one’s own interests and advantage that the welfare of others becomes of less concern than is considered just. A selfish person is always receiving but never giving to and/or refreshing others.


People who are selfish tend to make demands upon others that are impossible to meet. Generally, they are self-focused, toot their own horns, and are destructively manipulative and deceptive.


Selfish people don’t realize how their behavior leeches strength from those around them while at the same time robbing them, and others, of the blessings positive relationships can bring. Nor do they realize that it saps them of the character and virtue needed to form meaningful interpersonal relationships. They eventually become very lonely and alone individuals because they truly believe they don’t need other people; they just need more “adult toys.” It is easy to see why selfishness has been called “the sin that bleeds.” It is a mortal enemy bent on integral destruction of its host.

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