Finding the Middle Ground between Selfish and Selfless

Lots of couples have one person who is more self-centred and one who is more self-sacrificing.  Often we have learned these ways of operating as a self-protection in our formative years.

It can be hard for clients to understand what the alternative is – often they fear that they might become like their partner (whose behaviour hurts and frustrates them).  They fear that “If I’m not self-sacrificing then I’m being selfish”.  Or “If I’m not self-centred then I’m going to be a doormat”.

This table is intended to help your clients get clear about what the middle ground of having a solid sense of your self looks like across a range of aspects of relating.  Not everyone will necessarily fit every attribute described here – but it gives a general idea.

It can raise a very interesting conversation with clients about what the words in the middle column (like “empathic” or “vulnerable”) actually mean to them.

 

 

SELF-CENTRED GROUNDED SELF-SACRIFICING
CALLOUS EMPATHIC OVERWHELMED
SELF ABSORBED CONNECTED SELF-LESS
“RIGHT” OR IMPORTANT OK/GOOD ENOUGH UNIMPORTANT
FOCUS ON OWN HURTS INTIMATE ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED
GUARDED VULNERABLE UNREGULATED EMOTIONS
ARROGANT HUMBLE SELF-DENIGRATING
PUSHING BOUNDARIES WELL-BOUNDARIED UNASSERTIVE

 

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