Can A Person Learn To Be Less Self-Centered?

I have a client who is aware of his self-centeredness. The tendency is shown in his chart. He grew up with tremendous privilege which probably encouraged his proclivity to put himself first.

I think he is trying to overcome this but he may just be trying to learn how to appear that he’s thinking of others.

“Are you asking me how a thinking, thoughtful, sensitive person might handle this?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

I went on to tell him what he might say, if he wanted to convey care or compassion for the other person. His girlfriend, for example.

I explained how things might feel on her end. “When you do this, you put her in an uncomfortable position. You might start by telling her that you’re aware she’s got a problem and will face some pressure due to something you did…”

So I am teaching him. He may very well want to learn how to be more aware of things; to see life in 360 degrees. But there is no way to be sure.

Can a person learn to think of others?  Have you ever known anyone who took undertook this kind of endeavor? How did they fare?

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Can A Person Learn To Be Less Self-Centered? — 57 Comments

  1. I’m heading up this endeavor myself. With 5 planets in Leo it became clear to me that my life wholly opporates from my point of view & experiences. I make conscious efforts daily to listen more than I speak and ask questions rather than “add” to stories. It’s [almost embarrassingly] eye opening to practice sensitivity.
    Wishing your client good luck!

  2. I’ve known a lot of self-centered people — some I’m related to — and I just don’t see them ever changing because thinking of themselves first seems to be natural for them. They’re just not thoughtful types of people and I can’t see that ever turning around. Even in the example you gave, it didn’t seem like he really could ever change his natural inclination to think of himself first. He had some insight about this trait but the insight wasn’t enough to really give him the ability to care what others were feeling or wanting. It’s almost like having a mild case of sociopathy.

  3. Thinking of yourself last can also be a problem, it can create habitual martyrs. So everyone has to look for the sweet spot in-between. In this case, I would ask myself what his motivation for changing himself really is. Does he have a genuine desire to change, and why? Everything should stem from that. Otherwise the guy is doing it for the wrong reasons, and it will not last.

    • Good points.

      I think he’s doing it because he wants a wife and family. He wants to be successful. He’s whip smart. I think he sees if people see that he’s always putting himself first, it won’t go well. So while I am not sure if he actually sees his predisposition as a negative thing, he is aware it will cost him his goals.

      I don’t KNOW. But I tend to see him as a person with some deficits, he’s trying to fill in, or overcome. As I said, above, I’ve seen him beat some other monkeys off his back.

      So in a way, this guy is classic, blessed and cursed. He’ll never want for anything material, but he wants to acquire qualities he sees in others that may or may not exist in him.

      He used to have fits and tantrums (he’s young). I got him to knock that off. “Are you a bitch or are you not a bitch? Pick one.”

      “I’m not a bitch.”

      “Then never do that again, ever, under any circumstances and if you do, you’re going to hear about it from me, because I think it’s insane.”

      So actually, he’s overcome this. The idea he has some kind of dx, where he has to have fits he can’t control. He can control and he does control them, but this to him (me) a long time to achieve.

      If you’re really rich, or if your family is, no one confronts you. I will confront you, so that he comes to me says a lot.

      Anyway, I think he might manage this because he managed the other and he’s honest (when pushed).

      “Have you thought at all about the position you’ve put her in by doing this?”

      “No.”

      “Well do you want to think of her or what? Do you want to understand the impact on her or are you good?”

      Sometimes, he’s good. He’s that honest. So we hang up and then he calls me back at another time.

      “Okay, so what’s the impact on her?”

      He has no idea, see? And when I tell him, he’s horrified, but in (large) part, it’s because I relate it back to him.

      “She’s got to deal with X, because of you. Now what if you were her and you had to deal with X. How pissed would you be?”

      “Very pissed.”

      “Then don’t be surprised when she finds out about this and becomes furious.”

      He’ll then want to know how to mitigate the situation (manipulate) and I’ll tell him. Because he’s my client but also because he really, truly wants to marry this girl and stay with her forever. He’s needs help to do it.

      He’s not a bad person, by any stretch. It’s like there are bumps in a piece of sheet metal – he’s trying to pound them out. And while I never lose hope, there are people out there far less likely to overcome their problems, so I keep working on this.

      But I do wonder what I asked in the post…every single time. Though I do think he feels remorse. He’s got a major opposition in his chart. I think one side of him is fine with it…then he slides to the other side and it’s shock/horror.

      It took me until beyond my Saturn return to really be a decent person. So I think the idea people are all pulled together at 25 is ridiculous. Though I see people who are.

      They have no idea how lucky they are!

      • I wonder if this guy has a self-centered approach because he’s actually insecure about who he is, or what he has to contribute, or his self-worth, self-esteem or something.

        Because I don’t think you can truly, genuinely give to others and listen to others until you’re truly secure in yourself.

        Maybe the questions to ask are reverses … why does he not put others first? What’s his payoff? What would he lose if he put someone else first? You can probably guess the answer to some of these questions but he probably needs to understand them for himself because then he can start to see how his choices are being driven.

        • “I wonder if this guy has a self-centered approach because he’s actually insecure about who he is, or what he has to contribute, or his self-worth, self-esteem or something.”
          ~~~
          Yes, there are elements of this and we discuss them.

          It’s hard to nail this guy down, because of the oppositions. On one hand something is true. On the other hand, maybe not.

      • Wow, Elsa, that is a gigantic answer 🙂 Ok so from what you wrote – you said you think the guy cares about the girl and has some serious goals with her – family. Still, you could clarify that with him, it might give him an extra motivational boost if he realizes he’s truly serious about the girl.
        The second thing I noticed is him asking you about the girls reactions. It’s ok and a sign of maturity to have an external advisor – but you should check if his communication with the girl is on the level. Is he asking her questions? Is she answering them? If unsure, go to the source! Also, make sure she’s pulling her weight as well. She should be willing to communicate with the guy about their relationship, and both his and her wants needs and sensitivities. They should work everyday on knowing each other. Make sure they are both putting in effort. If they are and it still doesn’t work – they need more compatible partners.

        • They’re compatible. I don’t doubt this at all. It’s just that he (habitually) lies (for whatever reason). Then he has to find a way to tell her she’s been misled (at the very least)…and when she finds out the truth, she reacts to it, naturally.

          He’s working on the lying problem too…and they’re in a very serious relationship. I am sure she’s well aware of this other propensity. He’s come right out and said, “If I didn’t lie, I wouldn’t be me!”

          I know, I know. But people are people and this particular person has his faults but MUCH upside. Everyone who knows him, knows he squirrely on these things. It’s something else he’s working on, but does intend to keep some of his lying flair, which is his prerogative.

          His gf (fiance) can deal with him. She most definitily is the one who can and may be the only one who can.

          He’s knows he is a PITA. But also quite fun and funny and hilarious and not someone you can run out and replace.

          A person has to be confident and open-minded. She is. She deals with him; she has her ways!

          He doesn’t bore her and that a big deal in this case. 🙂

          • So there’s an upside to his evil ways… they’re part of his charm! 😀 don’t root them all out or the romance will die off ad well. So which sign would’t be themselves without lying? I’ve read that about Pisces somewhere. But I see Cancer as a more self-centered liar. Gemini would be too easy. And an open minded woman that likes to be entertained… Aquarius or Leo for the Gemini, no idea for the water signs. So what are the signs of the couplr in question, if that info is not classified?

    • Exactly. Many self-centered people are talented at appearing less selfish than when they realize it’s an effective tactic to keep getting what they want.

  4. I think the essence of the question is, can people change? I have to believe the answer is YES. Otherwise, why are we here if our proclivities are set in stone? Why would the astrological signs have positives, negatives, and their higher octaves? There MUST be free will or our lessons here, our challenges, are pointless.

    • Exactly! That’s what I was trying to say, above. Life has to be about some thing more than me-me-me. It’s about learning to change and evolve out of selfishness and self-centeredness. We are close to destroying this planet and making it unlivable as a result of our selfishness so it is time to get on it. Astrology is the best tool I have ever come across for learning how to raise our basic chart/aspects up an octave or two. The more we do that, the more our lives become service, or devoted to helping others or doing something to improve life on earth. I think we all start out self centered and gradually learn that it is actually richer to live a life for others… Nothing wrong with being selfish, it just doesn’t work. For anybody! But we are all addicts, trying to get off that crack… Just my 2 cents.

    • @Andrey, I am too, I have a strong 1st house. I don’t want to do social work or go out there in the world, like our pisces uncle and his libra wife. im more homefront and want to work from home (4th house dominant)

  5. I think anyone can realize the practical benefits of pretending they give a damn about others if it helps them get their needs met. But barring a life-changing epiphany, some people only become more self-centered over time. I don’t think you can teach empathy.

  6. The only person I know who consciously learned to have more empathy is one of my sisters. Once we both did an intricate online personality test, and I scored very high on empathy, and she was sort of surprised that she scored very very low. I believe it was since then that she worked on herself, and I can definitely see spectacular results as years go by. She never explicitly told me that she worked on it, or how she did it, all I know is that she did (because I can clearly see the difference in her behaviour). She’s Aquarius asc, Aquarius 12th house, Mercury in Aries, so perhaps not a VERY strong case of a self-centered person (and with a Cancer moon in the 5th, well, she does have strong feelings of caring).

    My mother on the other hand, who is a very extreme case of self-centered-ness, not only hasn’t changed over the years, she has become worse. Nothing (and I do mean nothing, no matter how serious) seems to be able to ‘teach’ her that she just can’t treat others in this manner. The astro I believe relevant: Leo moon and Pluto, Mars in the 1st opposing Saturn, Scorpio ascendant. On top of that, she has sun/moon/Mercury in Capricorn, so she’s not exactly prone to being adaptable.

    So I believe that a person is able to change, but only if there are elements in their chart which can make them flexible/adaptable, or if they have another element which stronly counteracts the self-centered aspects.

    Elsa, since your client wants so much to be together long-term with this woman, perhaps there’s hope for him. Because his motivation involves another person, not just himself. Also with so much 9th influence maybe reading some Plato (*) would do him good 🙂

    (*) e.g. Plato’s ‘Republic’ discusses “why should one be just?” and why justice is valuable in itself and not as a means for the strongest to achieve their selfish interests.

    • What were the signs of your sister’s self centeredness before? And what made her that way?

      How did her moon express itself in her self centeredness?

      I have the same problem, but most of my personal planets except sun are water

  7. If its in the chart AND they grew up being catered to it will always be there default. This is a case where the person should be allied with a very good therapist for years.

  8. Yes, I am extremely self centered. Before acting, I have to consider how decisions and actions will impact me first. I have a stellium spanning the 12th and 1st house, with yods point at this sector. Super focused, ON me. It’s my life path. But I am very considerate of others, all of the time. I have a big heart and am charitable. Yet, I also vet everyone I meet, with a 7th house lilith scorpio. Over time, I have found a balanced center. To be prosperous, you have to rely on others, it’s just how this society works. NO ONE is self contained vessel. Some people are more selfless. I admire that. But it’s not me. You can’t change the essence of a person. They are who they are, but they better adapt if they want to prosper.

  9. 12 steps, particularly step 4 uncovers how we do, why we do, how we really are, the rest give a way to create genuine change within the individual, if one is honest, openminded and willing

  10. I have never been around one long enough to see them change, but I suppose it can be taught, to some extent. But, they have to be open to it and WILLING to change. Usually, they have to have some incentive. Putting yourself in other peoples shoes doesn’t come as easily for some because their thinking is very SUBJECTIVE. That’s not exactly easy to change. However, even with some selfish people, I have seen them act differently with certain others. For example, I knew this girl who was very rough and the selfish type, but she was an amazing un-selfish person to her nieces and nephews whom she loved. I dont think it’s wrong to put yourself first or tend to your own needs first, but it’s more about recognizing that your actions can impact others and have consequences for them, and they will likely respond in kind, and that will affect you in turn. Acknowledging this will just help you make better informed decisions. It’s about seeing the bigger picture of how inter personal dynamics work.

  11. Funny, this morning this theme came up this morning, in conversation with a friend. She told me that someone I also know (less well, and since a shorter time) has been a victim of domestic violence, at the hands of her partner. Which is one of the ways self centeredness can manifest.
    My father was badly beaten by his father, in childhood. (His father died when my father was in his early teenage.) He – I can’t know obviously, for sure – never came to understand that there’s no sense in trying to reconcile the contradiction: yes, my grandfather loved his sons, AND gave way (by choice, imo… I do think it’s a choice, nevermind how fast) to rage, when his sons’ behavior worried him, by beating them. My father’s Mercury was exactly conjunct mine – in Aries, btw. We had a huge number of conversations, especially more frequently after he came to live with me, in his late-60s. My brother, genius as Mercury Taurus can be, and insightful, told me that our dad did develop his stilted ability for empathy, in his later years. Well, my brother’s smart, and often right (no, not always, simply, often) so, probably so. Oh gah, people, and our relationships with one another are never simple (again, in my 8th house Sun experience, aka, imo).
    The young man who keeps hiring Elsa to teach him to be a better man… my money would be on him, in a bet. 😉

    • “The young man who keeps hiring Elsa to teach him to be a better man… my money would be on him, in a bet”

      Yes, there is hope. He’s also given up cheating. That’s a big one. His parents / family love him unconditionally. His friends agree with him and justify whatever he does. I challenge him –

      “You can cheat or you can have a woman like *this. Choose, one, son-of-a-bitch. Because you’re not going to have both, I promise you that.”

      He chooses to have a wife and a family and to be fully committed to them. He CHOOSES this and it’s not a tough choice. He’s ambitious. So if he’s going to have a nice family life, then he’s going to have to learn to put their needs ahead of his own.

      This is not foreign to him. He loves his family and this is more motivation for him to control his lower urges. They all do. It’s the norm in his family so what we have here is someone trying to achieve something that they really want, but is not easy for them to get. I respect him for this. Knowing what he wants and being willing to work like a dog, for it. When he’s not cutting corners and lying, that is.

      He hires me in part, as a moral consultant.

      “I can stay there and not pay rent.”

      “You make how much and you’re how old?” I respond. “It’s in your best interest to find a way to contribute. Unless you want to be the family baby until the end of time. Do you want that?”

      “No, I don’t want that.”

      “Okay, then you know what to do.”

      I make him state his choices and commit to following through. Saturn in Sadge at this time. Basically, if he wants to be a man, then be a man. If he forgets what that is, he calls me and I remind him…”what would your dad do?”

      “This.”

      “No need to call me, then, huh?”

      He admires his father, who has a lot of class, and his mother who has taught him that things come around.
      Problem is, doing what’s right does not come easily to him when cheating is right there and so, so, so, easy.

        • Thank you, Chris.

          I’m a good match for this client. He sees results. I’m able to push him forward because I know his past.

          For example, he used to blow of women’s phones…call them 30 times in an hour, in a fit. The woman would be at work! But he wanted to talk so…

          He would not be caught dead doing that today. So I remind him of how far he’s come. He does like to travel / progress.

  12. I have this problem. I am self centered and score low on empathy despite having most personal planets in water.
    I cant always tell that what im doing thats selfish or if im not seeing someones point of view.
    Yet i connected with my friends, have been generous with money in small doses and have offered to help in small ways. I am also not comfortable with being non loving and non compassionate.

    I thought now that im 30 ive matured a little, but dont know.

    I need help i guess.

    • @kri i’m the same way. I scored low end, and I tried those online tests for empathy. although I cry at sad stories, and love animals, I am not interested into going out there and doing anything for the world. i’m generous with money with my family/loved ones, and my time, but other than that, i’m not interested in world concerns. but on a personal level I try very hard to recycle and make sure the environment is good.

    • Kri, sending you a soul hug. I have Aquarius rising too. If you truly had low empapthy you wouldn’t worry if what you’re doing is perceived as selfish to begin with.

      You’re more mature and caring than you know. Take it from another Aqua rising.

    • Kri, sending you a soul hug. I have Aquarius rising too. If you truly had low empathy you wouldn’t worry if what you’re doing is perceived as selfish to begin with. It sounds like you’re more mature and caring than you know.

    • It helps that there’s a difference between “empathy” and “caring.” Empathy is more being able to figure out how people feel. A con can have excellent empathy, but not care at all about the person they’re bilking.

  13. What kind of family background makes you self centered?

    Im an only child and my family has kind of done a lot of things for me (that are practical) and sheltered me from some stuff. As a result i often ask for help before i figure something out and think about myself a lot. I had trouble making friends as a kid and people sometimes told me to get out of their personal space when i was 16. I assumed it was because they didnt really like me.

    • Nah, Kri, none of that is “why” (No crystal ball, simply my thought on what you wrote.)

      If you wanted advice, I think, budget carefully, put money aside, and avail yourself of Elsa’s personalized-to-you advisements. 🙂

    • Family background that made my sister (as I described in earlier post) self-centered: she was the “golden child” of a tyrannical narcissistic mother, a bit like a little queen when growing up. So you being an only child might have something to do with it.

      From what you say, you do have lots of love and generosity in you, but you can’t quite figure others out. You say you have most planets in water, so I’m guessing that your sensitivity is overwhelming. Maybe making you way too busy handling your own psyche, let alone trying to figure out others? And also maybe distorting your views of others sometimes? These are wild guesses of course, as I don’t know you.

      My sister is very scientifically minded, and knowing her I believe she changed herself by researching “empathy” and practising it. She’s still not proficient at it, but she has learned to listen carefully. Being aware of it and admitting it to yourself is, in my opinion, the biggest step in conquering it. Hope all this info helps a bit!

      • Thank you and I hope youre right.. Ive been going through a moon pluto transit and the crap that has been dredged up is.. unpleasant.
        I also have some Sun problems lately.. can’t get a guy to save my life. Many factors (lack of attention from guys, difficulty making friends, being thought of as kind of blah by my peers in the office, not being thought of as weird or different or exceptions like I was used to due to my Aquarius Rising) have made me reclusive, deeply negative, and wary of being hurt. Many of them are really due to self centeredness (like, why should people think im in any way different or exceptional without me earning it, etc)

  14. When my son was younger, I wondered how I could ever teach him empathy. Having a pet helped somewhat, but still with his sun and jupiter conjunct in Aries and Capricorn moon in the 8th, he seemed to be manipulative (at least toward me) and quite self-centered. Now, as he’s grown, I see his desire to have a committed relationship (Saturn in the 7th) and the lovely girls he’s been close to have helped him evolve into a genuinely caring person.

    It sounds to me like there’s hope for this young man because he not only recognizes his deficiencies but he has reached out for help to improve. It takes a lot to admit your faults!

  15. I think you just have to accept the fact that some people are selfish and will probably always be that way. The question is how much of your energy and time can you invest in them? My mother has Aries Sun and a packed 1st house in Taurus, and with Mercury conjunct her ASC, she talks about herself a lot. She also has Sun, Venus, and Mercury square Pluto, and she’s got a magnetic way of pulling you into the fray. It’s just not fair.

  16. i did. i mean, i cared about other people, and their feelings. but it took a long time for me to start figuring out how to ask the right questions to get at what they needed or wanted. people tend to be pretty indirect about such things. i’m not good at subtlety.
    moon aquarius, in the sixth. sextile sun in aries.

  17. Astrology question! Would self-centeredness also be related to neptunian or moon houses/aspects? If the person is too sensitive and protects themselves too much?

    • This is possible, but I’d probably not use the term, “self-centered”, for that. Not that’s it the wrong, necessarily. But I see this to be related to the ego/self which is shown by the Sun in a chart.

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