8 signs you’re dealing with a genuinely selfless person, according to psychology

If someone helps you, you know they’re kind. If someone listens, you know they’re considerate.

That’s the basic gist of understanding selflessness.

But, let’s be honest, spotting a truly selfless person isn’t always that straightforward. The human psyche is an intricate puzzle, making it a challenge to identify genuine selflessness.

Psychology, however, offers us some clear signs to look out for.

In this article, we’ll explore the 8 traits that tell you’re dealing with a genuinely selfless person. So, buckle up and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of human behavior!

1) They put others first

We all have our moments of selflessness, where we prioritize someone else’s needs over ours.

But for genuinely selfless people? Well, it’s more than just a moment. It’s their default mode.

They’re always ready to lend a helping hand, to listen, to understand, and to offer support. And they do this without expecting anything in return.

Their level of empathy is off the charts. They can feel the struggles of others as if they were their own. They’re not just aware of the emotional atmosphere around them; they actively work to improve it.

They’re not looking for recognition or praise; their reward is the happiness and ease of those around them.

So if you see someone who constantly puts others first, you’re probably dealing with a genuinely selfless person.

Interesting, isn’t it?

2) They practice kindness, even when it’s tough

I’ve seen this quality in one of my closest friends. They’re the kind of person who would give their last slice of pizza to someone who’s hungrier, even if they’re starving themselves.

One evening, we were walking back home after a long day. Out of nowhere, a sudden downpour started. My friend immediately took off his jacket and held it over a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk, completely soaked.

I stood there, watching in awe. It was freezing, and my friend was now exposed to the cold rain. But he didn’t care; all he cared about was ensuring that the man had some form of shelter from the rain.

That moment stayed with me. It was a clear display of genuine selflessness – practicing kindness even when it’s challenging. 

3) They’re comfortable with vulnerability

Selfless people don’t shy away from vulnerability. On the contrary, they embrace it. They understand that to connect with others on a deeper level, they need to open up and reveal their true selves.

In the realm of psychology, this is known as “emotional openness” – the ability to express one’s feelings openly and honestly. It’s a trait that’s often found in selfless individuals.

A study published in the Journal of Personality found that those who are emotionally open tend to be more altruistic. They’re more likely to engage in acts of kindness, showing genuine concern for the well-being of others.

So, if you encounter someone who’s not afraid to show their emotions and express their feelings, chances are, they’re a genuinely selfless person.

4) They’re great listeners

Do you know those people who always seem to know the right thing to say? The ones who make you feel heard and understood? Chances are, they’re genuinely selfless.

Being a good listener is more than just hearing the words someone says. It’s about understanding their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. It’s about giving them space to express themselves without judgment.

And selfless people? They’re masters at this. 

They listen attentively, not because they want to respond, but because they want to understand. They’re fully present, focused on the person in front of them, making them feel valued and important.

5) They celebrate others’ success

People who exude class and elegance never get caught in these situations 8 signs you’re dealing with a genuinely selfless person, according to psychology

I’ve noticed something about genuinely selfless people – they’re the biggest cheerleaders you’ll ever find. They celebrate your achievements as if they were their own. It’s a joy for them to see others succeed.

I remember when my cousin secured a scholarship to study abroad. I was on cloud nine, but not as much as my friend, Mia. She had never met my cousin, but she was practically jumping with joy when I told her the news. She kept saying how proud she was and how much of a big deal it was.

It struck me then – genuine selflessness is about taking joy in others’ happiness. It’s about stepping out of your bubble and rejoicing in the success of those around you.

If you know someone who cheers for others unabashedly, you might be in the company of a genuinely selfless person.

6) They know when to say no

It might seem odd, but genuine selflessness isn’t about always saying yes. It’s about understanding your limitations and knowing when to draw boundaries.

A genuinely selfless person knows they can’t help others effectively if they’re burned out or stretched too thin. They understand that saying no at the right time is crucial for their wellbeing, and in turn, their ability to help others.

In fact, according to psychology, setting personal boundaries is a sign of healthy self-esteem and respect for oneself and others.

So if you encounter someone who isn’t afraid to say no when necessary, don’t mistake it for selfishness. Instead, recognize it as a sign of genuine selflessness.

7) They are patient and understanding

We live in a fast-paced world where patience seems to be a diminishing virtue. However, for genuinely selfless people, it’s a trait they hold on to tightly.

They understand that people are complex, that situations can be tricky, and that sometimes, things just take time. They don’t rush judgments or make hasty decisions. Instead, they give people the space to grow, make mistakes, and learn at their own pace.

Their patience extends beyond just waiting. It’s about showing understanding, about acknowledging that life can be tough and everyone’s doing their best.

If you come across someone who exhibits remarkable patience and understanding towards others, you’re likely dealing with a genuinely selfless person.

8) They do their best to make a positive impact

Above all, genuinely selfless people are driven by a desire to make a difference. They strive to leave a positive impact on the lives of others, no matter how big or small.

They don’t do it for recognition or applause; they do it because they genuinely want to see a better world. They understand that every act of kindness, every gesture of empathy, contributes to that goal.

So if you come across someone who constantly strives to make the world a better place, you’re likely dealing with a truly selfless person.

Embracing the selfless spirit

After reading this far, I hope you have a deeper understanding of what it means to be genuinely selfless. It’s not just about grand gestures or sacrifices. It’s about empathy, kindness, patience, and a sincere desire to make a positive impact.

Being selfless doesn’t mean neglecting oneself. It’s about recognizing our interconnectedness and the value of every individual in our shared world.

A quote from the renowned psychologist, Carl Rogers comes to mind, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

This rings true for genuinely selfless people. 

They accept themselves, with all their strengths and weaknesses, and this acceptance allows them to extend the same to others. They understand their place in the world and strive to make it better for everyone around them.

So the next time you come across someone displaying these signs, take a moment to appreciate their selflessness. 

Better yet, try to imbibe some of these qualities in your own life. After all, the world could certainly use more selfless individuals.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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