Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm not the center of the universe?

I'm so excited for the first Bloggy Moms Writer's Workshop!  I was looking for some pictures for a post when I found this quote by Pankaj Bhomia: "We are all self-centred. It's the radius that matters."

I know I can be self-absorbed, and as soon as I say that, defensiveness rushes in.  At least I'm interested in myself, since no one else is.  What about all those frenemies that I've supported and sacrificed for, only to have them ignore me when I needed someone?  Why do I always have to be the polite one trying not to offend?  No one seems to care if they offend me.  What an ugly stream of thought that is when I see it written out, and yet that's how I feel.

One of the things I love about blogging is that I'm free to express myself without worrying about whether or not I'm being selfish.  I just say what I want to say and no one is forced to listen if they don't want to.  There's no way I can monopolize the conversation - if a reader is bored, they can move on to someone else's thoughts.

I think about this a lot because I realized a few years ago that I've been irritating people with a bad conversational habit.  When someone tells me a story, my first reaction is to empathize or tell them what I think, because that's what I want from a listener.  I love reading the comments on this blog and hearing a different perspective, or that someone else out there has the same quirks that I do.  I'm genuinely interested in other people's reactions.

Unfortunately, this comes across as really, really rude and narcissistic.  While I've thought I'm being supportive, others see this as me turning every conversation to myself.  I feel awkward a lot of the time now, because when I want to support someone I don't know how.  I've started lamely saying "and how do you feel about that?" like a therapist, not a friend.

I don't have this resolved and writing about it makes me feel sad.  How many people have walked away from me in the past, thinking "what an egotistical bitch"?  What I like about this quote is that it strikes a balance by addressing the need for a global perspective while acknowledging our natural self-interest.

And how do you feel about that?


  1. Have people told you you're rude or narcissistic? Or are did you decide for yourself that's how you must come across? I think people tell stories to find people who will empathize with them - they may be thinking you're the best listener/advice-giver/empathize-r in the whole world and you're over here beating yourself up.

    And that paragraph about the frenemies - girl, I've been there. I've felt that. I made new friends who love me for me - quirks, narcissism, ego, crazy and all. I hope you find some people to love you that way too, and soon. You're too special to not be appreciated.

  2. Interesting quote. I think its true though. What we really cherish in our hearts is what is gonna come out in action and deed. We all have feelings and I think if we look at them correctly, they can be wonderful tools to guide us. But if we use them in the wrong way, they can be very bad.

    I found you through the link up!

  3. I've done exactly that. I feel like it's good to have someone's perspective on my problem. If they've had experience with it then by all means, share! But I do realize that for some people it does seem like I'm turning it around to be about me. I've got to literally bite my tongue sometimes to keep from blurting stuff out. I think it also comes from a need to feel included, to feel like you can relate, that you're not alone. At least, that's how I feel, but of course, it's not all about me!

  4. I can understand where you are coming from! I can relate to thinking that you are always changing the story from them to you but I think there is a fine line there.

    I have noticed this about myself and when listening to someone tell a story I will listen and see how many other people jump in and give their advice. I think the fine line is sharing an experience or overtaking the story. Some people will try and make their own personal story better or more interesting then the speaker. Other people will empathize with the speaker and share similar experiences to lend advice.

    I saw this quote today and thinks it suits your post perfectly...
    "Your world is a precious thing and you need to be careful as to who you allow in it"

  5. Mercy, I think I am about to make a common trend in comments here, but I often notice the same thing about myself!!! Perhaps it is not being egotistical or self-centered, but human nature in trying to show empathy and make connections to others. I am glad you are on the Writer's Workshop now!

  6. I feel ya! I sometimes feel like I can't stop talking and later I pick apart pieces of a day and wonder if I monopolized a conversation or if anyone was really listening to me. At other times, I feel like I can't get a word in edge wise and wonder why no one listens to me! I like blogging because I feel like I can be myself-for the most part-and I get a view of how others see me who haven't met me in person. It's a great outlet.

    Bridget from

  7. I love the image and its quote. And you write so eloquently about your experience. I related to a lot of it.
    Self confidence is a tricky thing to master, God knows I'll never be it's master. But I know a LOT about judging myself based on others PERCEIVED idea of me. It's basically a useless measure of anything. Subjectivity will always win out in the end and if you're opinion of others is that they don't like you, you will ALWAYS lose out. Of course. I trained in counselling an the rule of thumb in listening to someone's 'story' was feedback your interpretation of what they say, if they suggest you've misunderstood, re-evaluate your interpretation and do it again. As counsellors we never talk about our own experiences but as a friend it isn't always the wrong thing to do. If you've been in that situation it can be good for her to hear what happened to you. It might prepare her - lead her away from making a mistake - make her feel UNDERSTOOD. Often that is why we tell someone something. We look for understanding and feed back. As well as the need to sound off or unload. Horses for courses. Stands to reason we'll get it wrong now and again.

    . Shah .X

  8. You are SO my kind of girl. I don't see it as you turning the conversation on yourself, you're merely relating to the person telling the story. I totally get it. This quote is great!

  9. Oh dear, I never realized that someone might interpret empathizing as being rude!! I am glad you pointed that out, I will have to think about that…

  10. very well written. I am going to join in on this and prove that i am the same by turning things in "my direction" by saying that i feel the same way about myself. i envy you, and applaud you for being able to write about it so gracefully. usually, these thoughts of mine just turn around and around in my own head and eventually frazzle me and wear me out to the point where i find no resolve...know what i mean girls?

    anyhow, love this post. well done. thank you for a good read!

  11. I really like this quote and I can really relate with just one difference. I never thought of it as narcissistic rather low self esteem. I often feel like I empathized by sharing a related experience and then I feel slly. Like my experience didn't really level their's so why would they care?
    Great post, visiting from Bloggy Moms.

  12. I do the same thing and have lately become aware of it and left feeling awkward a lot, too.

    That being said, I'd like to reassure you that YOU were the person I called late at night when my boyfriend dumped me or I was having some other teenage emotional crisis. I always enjoyed talking with you, and probably still would if there was ever the opportunity.

  13. HI, 'm visiting from the Bloggy Moms hop..

    I feel exactly this way, I wrote about being a cheerleader for other people and how I like that part of me (and I do) but I also know that I want to empathize , to show people I care and that comes across sometimes as making it about me (which is complete BS you know!!)

    just wanted to EMPATHIZE with you and tell you that no matter what I think you are not selfish, if you can write about it, see if for what it is and is not, then you aren't selfish. Just sayin.

  14. Hi, stopping by from Bloggy Moms to say hello and make new friends. Your blog is very nice and I look forward to following you.

    facebook fan page:


  15. Hey! I love your honesty. It's good you're examining yourself, and trying to give yourself an honest assessment. However, I believe If your empathy and concern are sincere, and you're treating people the way you'd want to be treated, it doesn't really matter what other people think about it or you! Just relax knowing that you did the best you could! If THEY misinterpret your genuine attempts to be a friend, as being "narcissistic," it is their loss! Real friends give each other grace for their shortcomings, and the gift of mutual, lovingly delivered, honesty. "Frenemies" seems a little harsh--but maybe your "friends" are just acquaintances, not real friends at all....Keep looking. You'll find some great friends who appreciate YOU!
    Jamie in GA

  16. Great quote. I am stopping in from the writers workshop. I think that quote can be taken many different ways - How I took it is this.
    We all are not only self centered, but we should be self centered. If your core isn't positive, then your radius won't be either. Kinda goes along the whole thought of "If you don't love yourself, how do you expect anyone to love you?"
    I struggle with that daily. I wish I loved myself more, and beat myself up less.
    Great post!

  17. Hi! Found you through bloggy moms and I am glad I did. You have alot of good things to say, looking forward to reading more:)

  18. What a great conversation! I really enjoyed reading all your different perspectives on this. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, since no one actually said this to me. I just picked up from non-verbal cues that I'd said something wrong. Thanks Pamela for a great prompt for the first Writer's Workshop!

    And Rachel, I'm glad to know I was a source of support at a difficult time :)

  19. You know, I think it's completely NORMAL to empathize with others when they tell stories... to tell your own in response. I think that's one of the ways we (women especially) communicate with each other & build bonds. I don't see that as selfish at all. I think you're being too hard on yourself!


Lend me some sugar!