In travelling through life, you meet at least two kinds of people (although you tend to meet many more): those who are expansive and aggressively helpful, and those who are needy and self-obsessed. While the former can have the issue of being domineering, the latter tend to annoy us much more. We all look at the world from behind our own eyes, and, from the simple fact of having a physical perspective, experience all things as relating to us. Having some other person carry on endlessly about herself and show no interest in us can be a major turnoff. This is why self-involved people, unless they are celebrities, tend to end up isolated and not wanted anywhere, by anyone.
Yet why is it that celebrities, who tend to be the most self-centered people around, seem immune from the isolation that tends to afflict their less-well-known counterparts? The answer is simple: celebrities are resources. Contact with a celebrity can provide a wide range of personal benefits, so that, no matter how repulsive we find a celebrity’s personality, many people still try to contact her for the sake of getting a piece of the action. If someone is obscure, however, there is no action to get a piece of. Very often, the self-involved obscure person is a drain on our resources, depleting us while giving little in return.
This points to something important: the correlation between level of personal resources and degree of self-involvement. Personal resources does not mean only fame and money; it means strength both physical and mental, reserves of energy, time available to assist, knowledge and wisdom. I find that the most generous people, who give freely of their time, attention and assistance in ways that are not necessarily financial, are those with high personal resources. They have taken care of their own needs and wants, and they still have personal resources left over, so they bestow those on others. other people are desperately low on personal resources, not having enough of what they need to take care of themselves properly, so they spend their entire conscious lives wrapped around their hurts, thinking and talking only about themsleves, and exacting the penalty of other people’s resources that they need in order to keep their own body and soul together.
There are three things you can do about self-obsessed people who are self-obsessed because of low personal resources. I’ll tell you the first one last. The second thing you can do is evaluate your own level of personal resources and see whether you are in a position to help them. If you are, chances are that you will, by simple human nature, want to do it anyway. The third is to help them to the extent that they merit donations of your personal resources, and walk away from them to the extent that their demands are excessive. But the first and most important thing is to understand why they are the way they are. With understanding comes clarity about how you yourself should behave; so that, instead of just having an emotional aversion to such people, you can decide rationally how to relate to them. After all, even the lowest-resource, most self-obsessed people are potential resources to you should your help and the help of others enable them to achieve a personal resource surplus; and, more importantly, helping other people just feels good, and is of benefit to both the helper and the helped.