I once watched a mother throw a tantrum at her 5-year-old daughter's birthday party because she was unhappy with the way the birthday cake looks. Instead of quietly complaining to the party planner, or even letting it go, she became disruptive and rude. She did not quiet down until she had the attention of all the wait staff attending to the party, as well as all the invited guests there. I couldn't decide who was acting more like a child - her, or her 5-year-old daughter.
This is one dramatic example of the kind of self-absorbed, self-centred people we come across in life. You can spot them from the telltale signs of how they are demanding, attention-seeking, and often so wrapped up in their own needs that they never notice the needs of others. They take, never give, and sometimes act out dramatically when they do not get their way, making others feel uncomfortable and tired.
Do you have a friend who behaves this way? Often turning every conversation back to them, or making you feel invisible and unimportant? The first piece of advice for dealing with such people is to try to stay away from them, but if you absolutely have to be around them (if you happen to be working in the same group for a class project, for instance), here are some ways to understand why they behave they way they do, so as to enable you to deal with them better:
Don't argue with them
Self-centred people have the amazing ability to make you feel like pulling out your hair (or even their hair) -- don't do it. Don't engage in behaviour that is beneath you. It’s difficult to not argue with someone who is behaving unreasonably or being unkind, but self-centred people are really not the best listeners, and they have a thick wall guarding their self-image. Don’t buy into their arrogance, don’t feed their sense of self-importance, and stay true to yourself. If you focus on the person that you are and strive to continue being a considerate and loving person that you know you can be, it will help you feel better.
Set clear boundaries
Accept that a self-centred person might never consider your needs first. Having compassion for a person does not mean that you become their door mat for them to step all over you and take advantage of you. The best vocabulary word to have with them is 'no'. You don't have to be rude about it, but if a self-absorbed friend is asking you for the 100th time to do their homework for them or to help out with his/her part of the group project, say 'no'. It is worth setting a clear boundary to prevent resentment and anger being built up towards that person.
We may never know what kind of upbringing or past a person may have had. In the end, try not to hate self-centred people, as there is usually a part of them that they don't like and are trying hard to cover up. They are likely afraid of feeling powerless, unworthy, or out of control. By being superior to others, it is a form of self-protection for them, even though it is not right. By understanding this, you can take their actions less personally. You can choose to ignore them, listen politely and then move on, but most importantly, you can choose not to be offended by their actions.