Selfishness, or self-centeredness, is a behavior marked by prioritizing one’s own needs and desires over others’, often leading to negative consequences in personal relationships, mental health, and addiction. Historically viewed through a moral and ethical lens, selfishness is contrasted with altruism, which involves putting others’ needs first. While self-care is fundamental for personal well-being, selfishness negatively impacts others by disregarding their feelings and needs. In mental health and addiction, selfishness can be both a symptom and a cause, with certain personality or substance use disorders exhibiting high levels of this trait. It often arises from coping mechanisms, social misperceptions, or substance-induced impaired judgment.
In addiction recovery, selfishness is a complex issue. While addiction can drive people to prioritize substance use over other responsibilities, leading to damaged relationships, recovery often requires a degree of self-focus to heal effectively. This focus, however, is different from the harmful selfishness seen in addiction; it’s about putting sobriety first and creating a healthy environment for oneself. Recovery involves saying no to potentially triggering situations and prioritizing meetings and therapy, which might initially strain relationships but is essential for long-term healing.
Historically labeled as a moral failing, addiction is now understood as a complex brain disorder, not confined to any moral or character judgment. Addressing selfishness in recovery is fundamental for developing empathy and repairing relationships damaged by substance abuse. Rehabilitation programs emphasize understanding and transforming selfish behaviors, using therapy and support groups to create empathy and balanced self-care. This transformation in recovery is about prioritizing health and sobriety, learning to set boundaries, and understanding the difference between necessary self-focus and harmful selfishness.
Self Centeredness and Addiction Psycology
Self-centeredness, often synonymous with terms like self-serving, self-absorption, egocentric, and selfish, refers to an intense focus on one’s own needs, wishes, and desires, often at the expense of others. This behavior can lead to loved ones feeling used and neglected, as the self-centered individual typically considers others only in terms of how they can fulfill their own needs. In addiction, this manifests as emotional abandonment of loved ones, as the addict’s focus narrows to their obsession and compulsion, neglecting various aspects of relationships and family responsibilities.
Not all self-centered individuals have substance abuse issues; extreme self-focus can stem from various psychological conditions. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a type of Cluster B personality disorder, is characterized by a deep need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, sensitivity to criticism, grandiosity, and self-serving interactions. Antisocial Personality Disorder, another Cluster B subtype, involves persistent patterns of rights violations and criminal behavior, with self-centeredness manifesting through harmful behaviors like lying and manipulation for personal gain. Conditions like depression and anxiety can also lead to intense self-preoccupation, where individuals become so absorbed in their own issues that they seem indifferent to others.
A Re-look at Being Selfish
The traditional definition of ‘selfish’ often overlooks the context of recovery and self-improvement. In sobriety, ‘selfish’ should be redefined as taking actions with positive motives for one’s own benefit, which may not always align with others’ preferences. It involves prioritizing personal gain, development, and growth, essential in the progression to sobriety. This new form of selfishness necessitates significant life changes, including ending toxic relationships, establishing new routines, avoiding triggers, and confronting underlying issues behind substance abuse.
This reimagined selfishness in recovery is about self-care, self-love, and self-preservation. It’s a shift from the destructive selfishness associated with substance abuse to a constructive form that focuses on removing negatives and enhancing physical and mental well-being.
It’s important to differentiate between these two types of selfishness and recognize the value of this new, positive form in recovery. While some may not understand the drastic changes required in the recovery process, open communication can help in addressing the stigma linked to addiction. Being ‘selfish’ in this context is not about neglecting others; rather, it’s about a necessary focus on personal health and well-being, allowing individuals to make the best choices for their recovery and future.
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Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.
Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.
Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.