Most people are self centered to a certain degree. The reasons for being self-centered also vary a great deal as well, but are anxious people inherently more self-centered than the average person?
Although generalizing is not a good thing when it comes to describing people it appears that anxious people are a little self absorbed, but not because of vanity or some other self serving reason. Anxiety, like almost all mental ailments, dominates much of the anxious persons mental day.
Whether it’s thoughts or feelings you can bet that anxiety has at least some input during the day. As a result, anxiety sufferers tend to be focused on their problems, feelings, and reactions to anxiety. Everything becomes about how anxiety has or will be affecting them.
In this way being anxious and self-centered is not abnormal. In fact, I catch flack for being self-centered on a weekly basis. But is this really a surprise? You can think of anxiety as an injury, say a broken leg. Could you break a bone and ignore it? I doubt it and this is very much the same way that anxiety works to occupy our minds and cause us to unintentionally focus on ourselves.
This is the “mental trap” that I have referred to in the past. The trap involves self-centeredness, self-pity, rumination, and chronic introspection. To the outside observer this can appear as selfishness when it is really just the anxious person wrapped in worry, not ego.
To remedy this takes time and practice and it certainly is not done alone. First and foremost tell your loved ones and friends that know about your anxiety that this is a side effect of constant anxiety. Let them know that it is not intentional and not done consciously.
Second, make a personal effort to recognize your acts of selfishness and take steps toward reducing them. This is particularity important if you’re involved in a serious relationship (marriage, etc) or have children.
Sometimes connecting with people is difficult when you have an anxiety disorder. But just because that’s the case it doesn’t mean that we should not take an active role in maintaining our close relationships. It’s not enough to say that since you have anxiety all intimacy must die.
And are all anxious people self-centered? Well of course not. This post was more to indicate that many anxiety sufferers are. It is a hard balance to strike but one that we should strive to achieve. Alienating people, even if it’s unintentional, will only serve to isolate us further.
And although it may feel counter intuitive to our anxious minds we should bring those we love closer and do more for them to help ourselves get outside of our own heads. To help us slow down the constant chatter of anxiety.