Why are we so obsessed with ourselves?

For a newborn, the focus on its own self is connected with survival. This sense of the ‘self’ and the focus on one’s own self persists primarily as a survival mechanism. A baby cries when it is hungry, sleepy, uncomfortable or unwell. This is because it knows no other form of communication. By natural survival instinct, a baby is aware that crying gets attention and subsequent relief. 

However, as the baby’s intelligence develops, it realizes that not only could crying bring relief for its basic needs but it can also use ‘crying ‘ as a tool to express unhappiness or to manipulate situations. Achieving success in this form of manipulation opens the door to a treasure house of ‘getting its own way’.

The joy that the presence of a baby generates in the family circle lends to a vast amount of time and attention being focused on it, often giving rise to a certain level of self-centeredness, bordering on entitlement.

Petulance, sulking, cajoling, smiles and tears are all tools the growing child learns to use. The effectiveness of these tools depends on the parents and elders. This ultimately determines the degree of self-absorption or self-centeredness. In later years, this may increase or decrease depending on circumstances, situations and relationships.

The stronger the ‘I’ factor, the greater the insecurity.

The need to be recognized, acknowledged, noticed, flattered and praised causes us to project an image which we nurture, embellish and jealously guard. The need for approval from society, relatives, peers and friends keeps us in a constant state of competition with the world around us and also with ourselves.

Unfortunately, society deems this is as necessary for growth and progress. In actuality, it keeps us on a treadmill of stress and in a continuous state of dissatisfaction with ourselves.

Often the most damaging aspect of our obsession with ourselves is the fact that we feel justified. For example, obsession with our appearance is construed not as being narcissistic but rather as focusing on our fitness. This justification blinds us to the fact that we are obsessed with ourselves.

To be obsessed with ourselves is to limit our world to our mortal body, whereas if we were to focus outward, our consciousness would be as great as the universe.