So I'm gonna be a bit of a hypocrite and dive in here. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try not to assume I know or understand them well enough to pass a lot of judgments. I fail from time to time, but that is something I have always tried very hard to be good about (except in conversations with my husband, where I let the frustrations flow to get it out of my system so I can start thinking positive things about people again). I am more than happy most of the time to be patient with people's faults or even just annoying habits or personality traits, because I hope that most people would be forgiving of mine. But I must finally admit that I begin to lose my patience very quickly with people who, over time, consistently display selfish behavior. It makes me crazy.
As anyone who has spent any time around small children can tell you, the only person whose needs and desires that a toddler has any concept of are his own. As children grow up, they learn to share and take turns and say and do all the right things to be "polite", but the fact is that most human beings remain incredibly self-focused all the way through adolescence and often well into young adulthood. Frequently it continues until someone gets married or even until they have children (there are cases where it doesn't even end there, and that's particularly aggravating). This is, I believe, one of the primary reasons that the Lord has continually counseled young people not to put off marriage or children. Though not true of everyone, it is certainly true for most people that the longer you are responsible for only yourself, the more self-focused you become, and the harder breaking the habit of selfishness becomes.
Now, don't get me wrong, I can certainly be selfish--hugely selfish at times, in fact. But it is not generally one of my bigger challenges. That's not because I'm any great paragon of virtue, as anyone who has ever had the trial of living with me can tell you. Its simply that I have had semi-unique circumstances throughout most of my life that have helped me to focus more on those around me than on myself. I was born a twin, and from a very young age, I liked to "take care of" him. A lot of the reason behind that was that I hated being the center of attention as a child because I was shy and ever so self-conscious, and so focusing on him made me think less about myself and consequently make me feel less anxious. But as we grew up, I was always finding people to take care of in one way or another. As a teenager there were times when I felt like I was living in two different worlds and focusing on the needs of others was necessary for mental and emotional health. Then I married young and had husband's needs and desires to consider before becoming a mother 10 months later and then having children to focus on. I've just always been blessed enough to have people in my life who could use a little nurturing or attention, which saved me from ever focusing too much on myself.
So I don't have a lot of empathy for people who are selfish and consequently not much compassion. The more selfish someone is, the more they irritate me, almost the same way a yippy chihuahua does. I know, that's terrible. Most of the selfish people I know are also those who are most easily offended, and having to tip toe around them makes me crazy. I hate having to listen to every word of every sentence of everything they want to talk about no matter if I find it the least bit interesting. I hate the cluelessness that selfish people tend to have about themselves--and I always find that ironic, that they spend more time than most people focused on themselves, and yet often know themselves the least. I can't stand the grandiose sense of self-importance, or just the utter ignorance about how many of their actions and words affect people around them.
But what really upsets me, what at once both infuriates and depresses me, is how some people can sometimes be so selfish that they can create an elaborate delusion about who they really are, of what their actions and life have meant to them and those around them. It makes me sick to my stomach when someone is so selfish that they create for themselves an alternate reality so that they can see everything the way they want to, not be bothered with things as they really are. That kind of selfishness whittles away at every meaningful relationship in your life until eventually there's nothing left. I can't understand being so selfish you'd rather be alone than be wrong.
I have spent all of my life surrounded, in one way or another, by a loving support system. I grew up with a wonderful family who I both love and like and incredible friends who are still an important part of my life. In Hawaii, I had an awesome ward I would've lived in for the rest of my life if those circumstances weren't impossible. I have great in-laws and wonderful friends here who offer me a lot of support. If I screwed up, I would do anything I could to make it right so that I didn't lose any one of them. I can't imagine holding on to my pride and losing all of them.