Have you ever noticed how we are all a little self-centered sometimes? We don’t mean to be, but it’s human nature. Our tiny brains can only process so much information, so we tend to focus on what’s most relevant to us in the moment. In the process, we often overlook how our words or actions might affect others or come across as self-centered.

In this article, we will explore 12 surprising self-centered examples.

Self-Centered Examples

Self-centered examples are people who act as if they are the center of the universe and disregard the feelings and needs of others. They may be arrogant, narcissistic, manipulative, or demanding. Some self-centered examples are:

1. We Focus on Ourselves in Conversation

We Focus on Ourselves in Conversation
We Focus on Ourselves in Conversation

We all have a tendency to make conversations revolve around ourselves. It’s human nature, but being aware of it can help us become better communicators.

We share too many personal details.

Have you ever been stuck listening to someone share intimate details about their life that you really didn’t need to know? We’ve all been there. The truth is, most people aren’t as interested in the minutiae of our lives as we are. Save oversharing for close friends and family. With casual acquaintances, keep personal stories limited and focus the conversation on topics of mutual interest.

We hijack conversations to talk about ourselves.

How often has someone asked how your weekend was only to immediately launch into a monolog about their own weekend adventures? We frequently hijack conversations to switch the focus back to ourselves. Make an effort to actively listen when others speak and ask follow-up questions to keep the dialog centered on them. People will appreciate your genuine interest in their lives.

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2. We compare ourselves to others.

It’s easy to have conversations about ourselves by comparing our lives, experiences, and accomplishments to others. But constantly sizing people up and trying to one-up them gets tiresome and damages relationships. Accept that there will always be people who have more or less than you do. Focus conversations on learning from and supporting others, rather than competing with them.

Making an effort to avoid these self-centered habits can vastly improve your communication and connections with people. Listen fully, share thoughtfully, and make the conversation a two-way street. Your relationships will thrive as a result.

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3. We think we’re better drivers than we are.

We think we're better drivers than we are
We think we’re better drivers than we are

We all think we’re amazing behind the wheel, but the truth is most of us have some dangerous habits we’re not even aware of.

We speed without realizing it.

Studies show the average speed most of us actually drive is 5–10 mph over the posted limit. We just get so comfortable that our speed gradually creeps up without us noticing. Try using cruise control more often and checking your speedometer frequently to avoid unintentionally breaking the speed limit.

We text and drive.

It’s become second nature for many of us to quickly check a text or social media alert, even when we’re on the road. But taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of an accident. Put your phone away in the glove compartment or trunk so you’re not tempted, and avoid checking it at stoplights since that’s also dangerous.

We don’t signal properly.

Using your turn signal is essential for communicating with other drivers and avoiding collisions. But many of us often forget to signal, don’t signal with enough advance warning, or turn it on as we’re already changing lanes. Get in the habit of signaling every time for at least 3 to 5 seconds before changing course. It could save a life.

We Drive When Drowsy

Drowsy driving impairs your abilities as much as driving drunk, yet many of us drive when overly tired. If your eyes start to feel heavy, pull over for a power nap. Drink some caffeine, turn up the radio, open the window—do whatever it takes to stay awake behind the wheel. Your safety depends on it.

We all have room for improvement to become safer, more considerate drivers. Developing good habits and minimizing dangerous behaviors can help ensure you get where you’re going in one piece.

4. We Overestimate Our Contributions to Group Projects

Have you ever worked on a group project and felt like you contributed way more than your fair share? We’ve all been there. The truth is, we have a tendency to overestimate how much we actually contribute compared to others.

Studies show that when we work closely on a task with others, we have a hard time being objective about our own contributions. Our inherent self-centeredness causes us to focus more on our own efforts and inputs while underestimating what others are doing. We see all the time and energy we are putting in, but we don’t have the same insight into our teammates’ contributions.

This “self-centered bias” also causes us to believe we deserve more credit for the group’s success than we are actually due. We think we carried more of the load or came up with the best ideas, even if that wasn’t the case. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle, with all team members making valuable contributions.

To overcome this bias, try putting yourself in your teammates’ shoes. Make an effort to notice specific things they are doing to help the project and express appreciation for their contributions, not just your own. Be open to feedback on ways you can improve as a team member. Share information and ask for input to make the process feel more collaborative. At the end of the day, what really matters is that the group achieves its goals, not who gets the most credit or praise.

Focus on the shared success of the team rather than keeping track of individual contributions. Over time, making an effort to be more objective and inclusive can help reduce self-centered tendencies and lead to better group outcomes. Team projects are most successful when we work as a cohesive unit, not as lone individuals merely looking out for ourselves.

5. We take credit for our successes and blame external factors for our failures.

We take credit for our successes and blame external factors for our failures
We take credit for our successes and blame external factors for our failures

We all have a tendency to take credit when things go right in our lives but point the finger at outside factors when things go wrong. It’s human nature, but it’s important to recognize this self-centered behavior in ourselves.

When a work project goes well or we accomplish something meaningful, we proudly say, “I did it!” We see our successes as a direct result of our intelligence, skills, hard work, and determination. But when something doesn’t go according to plan, our inner dialog often sounds more like, “It’s not my fault; if only my boss had given me more time, or my teammates were more competent, or the traffic wasn’t so bad, I would have succeeded.” Rather than accepting responsibility for our failures and shortcomings, we make excuses and blame external variables that are outside of our control.

The truth is, there are many contributing factors to both our successes and failures in life. No one achieves great things alone, and there are always obstacles and events beyond our influence. Yet in the moment, we like to take all the credit or shift all the blame, depending on the outcome. This self-centered way of thinking is normal, but it’s important to recognize it in ourselves.

Try to maintain some perspective and understand that reality is often far more complex. Share credit with others who helped you along the way, and accept responsibility when you come up short rather than making empty excuses. Blaming outside factors won’t help you grow; it will only make you feel like a victim of circumstances.

Owning both your successes and failures will make you a happier, more self-aware person. And surrounding yourself with people who share this balanced mindset will help create a community of mutual understanding and support. We’re all self-centered at times, but with conscious effort, we can overcome this tendency in ourselves and bring more compassion into our relationships.

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6. We think other people notice us more than they do.

We’ve all been there—walking down the street, minding our own business—when we start to feel uncomfortably self-aware. We assume that passersby are scrutinizing our every move, judging what we’re wearing or how we look. The truth is, most people are too focused on themselves to pay much attention to us. We tend to overestimate how much other people notice us or care about what we’re doing.

We’re not the center of attention.

In reality, we’re just extras in the background of everyone else’s lives. Most people are inwardly focused, worrying about their own appearances and impressions, not ours. Studies show we tend to think other people notice us two to three times more than they actually do. This “spotlight effect” causes us to feel like we’re constantly being observed and evaluated when, in fact, we’re not.

Unless we do something to purposefully draw attention to ourselves, like spill coffee on our shirt before an important meeting or trip or fall in a crowded subway car, chances are people aren’t paying close attention. They’re too preoccupied with their own lives and insecurities to care what brand of socks we’re wearing or if we have a bad hair day. This self-centered way of thinking is completely normal, but keeping the spotlight effect in mind can help ease anxiety and make us worry less about what others might be thinking.

The reality that most people don’t care as much as we assume can be strangely liberating. It allows us to stop overthinking our every move and just focus on living our lives. We can’t control what others notice or think about us, so we might as well not let it hold us back or make us feel self-conscious. Shifting our perspective to recognize we aren’t the main characters in everyone else’s stories allows us to be less self-centered and just appreciate each day as it comes.

7. We believe we’ll do better in competitions than our opponents.

We believe we'll do better in competitions than our opponents
We believe we’ll do better in competitions than our opponents.

We all like to think we have a good chance of coming out on top in any competition, whether it’s a sporting event, a job interview, or even just a friendly game night. Our self-centered tendencies lead us to overestimate our own abilities while underestimating our opponents.

When gearing up for any type of competition, we focus intensely on our own preparation and skills. We know our own abilities and training intimately, so we assume we have an advantage. At the same time, we can only guess at our opponents’ readiness. We often assume they haven’t trained or practiced as hard as we have, even without any evidence to support that belief.

This “illusion of superiority” plays out in all areas of life. For example, when job searching, we highlight our own experiences and qualifications on our resumes, but we have no way of truly knowing how we stack up against other candidates in the pool. When playing board games with friends, we assume our familiarity and luck will lead us to victory, even if our opponents are also skilled players.

Our tendency towards self-centered thinking means we frequently overestimate our chances of winning and being the best. We would be better served by taking an objective view of any competitors and judging our own abilities rationally. Some key things we often fail to consider are:

  • Our opponents want to win as much as we do and have likely also prepared and trained hard.
  • There are factors outside of our control, like luck, that can influence the outcome.
  • Our skills and talents are not uniquely special; there are many people just as capable as we are.

Underestimating our competition can lead to poor strategy and the element of surprise. The truth is, we have no better odds of winning than anyone else in the competition. But our self-centered human nature keeps leading us to believe we’ll come out on top. Recognizing this built-in bias is the first step to developing a more balanced and realistic view of our abilities relative to others.

8. We Have Biases and Prejudices We’re not aware of

We all have unconscious biases and prejudices that influence our thinking and behavior. As much as we’d like to believe we judge people fairly and objectively, the truth is that our brains take mental shortcuts that can promote stereotyping and discrimination.

We favor people like us.

We have an innate tendency to prefer people who are most like us in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and other attributes. This in-group bias leads us to trust, help, and associate more readily with those we perceive as being in our own group. At the same time, we may view outgroups more negatively without cause.

We make snap judgments.

When we meet someone for the first time, we form impressions astonishingly quickly. Within a tenth of a second, we start making judgments about a person’s trustworthiness and competence based on their facial features alone. These instant assessments are often inaccurate and biased, yet they influence how we interact with and behave toward that individual from the get-go.

We cling to first impressions.

Once we form an initial impression of someone, it can be hard to change. This is known as the “primacy effect.” Our first impressions tend to stick with us and color future interactions, even when presented with contradictory evidence. We twist and distort new information to confirm what we already believe to be true about a person. Letting go of initial biases and prejudices requires conscious effort and an open, curious mindset.

We make assumptions.

It’s human nature to make assumptions, but those assumptions are often misguided or outright wrong. We assume similarities and expect certain behaviors and traits from people based on overgeneralized stereotypes. For example, assuming someone is unintelligent because of their accent or that a woman is overly emotional These kinds of assumptions propagate prejudice and discrimination. The truth is that people are individuals—complex and multi-faceted. There is no single “type” that defines any group.

Recognizing our inherent biases and prejudices is the first step to overcoming them. Paying close attention to our automatic thoughts and gut reactions can help us identify blind spots, challenge unfair assumptions, and approach all people with an open and empathetic mind.

9. We remember our own actions more vividly than those of others.

We remember our own actions more vividly than those of others
We remember our own actions more vividly than those of others.

We all have a tendency to remember events that directly involve us in vivid detail. Our own actions and experiences stand out prominently in our memories, while those of others fade into the background.

Our memories prioritize us.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone over who said what during a conversation? We have a habit of recalling our own words with striking clarity, yet only vaguely remembering what the other person said. Our brains seem wired to prioritize information that is personally relevant to us.

When we experience something, our senses are heightened, and our minds are very focused on what we’re seeing, hearing, and feeling. We encode this information into our memories in a very rich, multi-dimensional way. In contrast, when we learn about an event secondhand or watch others go through an experience, our minds are more disengaged. We don’t retain as many details, and what we do remember is in less vivid form.

We exaggerate our own roles.

Not only do we remember our own actions best, but we also have a tendency to overestimate our own involvement or importance in events. Psychologists call this the “spotlight effect.” We see ourselves at the center of things and often exaggerate our own roles and contributions.

For example, when working on a group project, we’re likely to think we did more of the work than we actually did. Our skewed self-perceptions emerge from the fact that we have a front-row seat to our own experiences, thoughts, and actions but only a limited view of what others are doing behind the scenes.

While a little self-centeredness is normal human nature, it’s worth being aware of this tendency in ourselves. Making an effort to consider other perspectives and appreciate the roles that other people play can help broaden our view and foster healthier relationships. Recognizing our shared human tendencies towards self-centered thinking may also make us slower to judge others and quicker to show them empathy.

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10. We fail to see things from other people’s perspectives.

We all like to think we see the world objectively, but the truth is, most of the time we are viewing it through the lens of our own experiences, priorities, and self-interests. Our innate self-centeredness frequently prevents us from fully understanding other people’s perspectives.

We fail to appreciate how other people’s circumstances differ from our own.

We assume that what’s easy or obvious for us must be the same for everyone else. But we all have our own unique set of challenges, obligations, and limitations in life that shape how we think and what we value. If someone is struggling with something that seems simple to you, try putting yourself in their shoes instead of judging them. Their reality may look very different from your own.

We interpret other people’s words and actions based on our own experiences.

It’s human nature to use our own lives as a frame of reference for understanding others. But this self-referential thinking often causes us to misread people and situations. We project our own fears, desires, and interpretations onto them, rather than seeking to understand them on their own terms. Before reacting to what someone says or does, pause to consider the possibility that your perception of things may not match theirs. Look for clues that point to their actual intent and motivation, not just your assumptions.

We believe our priorities and opinions should be shared by everyone.

We tend to see our own preferences, values, and ways of thinking as normal and right, and we expect others to feel the same. But there are many equally valid perspectives in this world. Learn to recognize when you’re imposing your views on others, and instead try opening yourself up to different ways of looking at things.

Accept that reasonable people can disagree without either of them being wrong. Broadening your mind in this way can lead to far more harmony in your relationships and interactions with people. In the end, overcoming our innate self-centeredness is a lifelong effort. But making the attempt to see beyond us and walk in another’s shoes can help foster more empathy, compassion, and understanding between us all. And that is something this world could certainly use more of.

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11. Judging Others to Feel Better About Ourselves

Judging Others to Feel Better About Ourselves
Judging Others to Feel Better About Ourselves

We all have a tendency to judge others to make ourselves feel better in comparison. It’s human nature, but that doesn’t make it right. Here are a few of the ways we prop ourselves up by putting others down:

My friends and I often find ourselves judging the appearance or fashion choices of strangers when we’re out in public. Did that woman really think those shoes matched that dress? Why would he get that ridiculous haircut? Passing judgment on how others present themselves gives us a false sense of confidence in our own style and appearance.

When someone else succeeds or excels at something we care about, it’s easy to find ways to diminish their accomplishment. We tell ourselves the only reason they got the promotion was because the boss likes them, or they got lucky with that big client. Tearing others down helps us feel less inadequate in comparison.

It’s also common to judge the lives and choices of friends and family members. Why did my sister decide to quit her job when she has kids to support? My best friend is crazy for moving across the country for a relationship that will never last. Judging the important life decisions of people close to us allows us to feel superior in our own choices and life paths.

The next time you have the urge to pass judgment on someone else’s style, success, or life choices, stop yourself. Recognize that these judgments say more about your own insecurities and need for self-validation than they do about the person you’re judging. Make an effort to be more empathetic and less critical. Everyone is fighting their own battles and deserves compassion, not condemnation. We’ll all be happier and better friends, family, and community members when we work to overcome this tendency in ourselves.

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We’ve given you some eyebrow-raising examples of the self-centered tendencies we all share as humans. The truth is, we are social creatures who thrive on connection, yet we each live in a bubble of ourselves. It’s simply human nature. The good news is that once we recognize these tendencies in ourselves, we can make an effort to overcome them. Reach out to a friend or loved one today and ask them how they’re doing—and really listen.

Make eye contact with the cashier and sincerely thank them for their help. Do a random act of kindness for a stranger without expecting anything in return. It may feel unnatural at first, but with practice, broadening our perspective and focusing outward can become habits. We’re all in this together, so make the effort to step outside yourself; you might be surprised by the connections you find.


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