The other day I was having a conversation with the girl I like from yoga. She said "I think I may be a narcissist because I only think about myself". I could relate, there was a time when I thought I was a narcissist too because of this very phenomena. Later on I came to understand we all do this, and if you think about someone you are thinking about that person in relation to yourself.
Carl Rogers, humanist psychologist, said all people experience themselves at the center of their experiential field. Everyone and everything is related to your sense of self. Even a devoted mother is thinking about herself when she takes care of her child, because the child is part of her. It is said that enlightenment is the inner realization that you are everything, and thus the self seems to disappear because it becomes everything.
There is a very interesting cosmological parallel to this psychological phenomena. When Edwin Hubble demonstrated that the universe was expanding by detecting the red shift of the galaxies in the sky, he was surprised to find that our galaxy was at the center of the universe!. But that couldn't be... Early civilizations thought their nation was at the center of the world, then astronomers said no, it is earth what is at the center of our solar system, then we thought the sun was at the center of the the universe, and now it appeared that our galaxy was at the center of the universe.
This is an illusion. The universe is constantly expanding. No matter where you are in the universe, it appears you are at the center of it. No matter who you are, you experience yourself at the center of a psychic world, you experience everything and everyone in relation to you.
Here are Carl Rogers original propositions for his Person Centered Approach to psychology:
All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are the center.
The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived. This perceptual field is "reality" for the individual.
The organism reacts as an organized whole to this phenomenal field.
The organism has one basic tendency and striving - to actualize, maintain and enhance the experiencing organism.
Behavior is basically the goal-directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs as experienced, in the field as perceived.
Emotion accompanies, and in general facilitates, such goal directed behavior, the kind of emotion being related to the perceived significance of the behavior for the maintenance and enhancement of the organism.
The best vantage point for understanding behavior is from the internal frame of reference of the individual.
A portion of the total perceptual field gradually becomes differentiated as the self.
As a result of interaction with the environment, and particularly as a result of evaluational interaction with others, the structure of the self is formed - an organized, fluid but consistent conceptual pattern of perceptions of characteristics and relationships of the "I" or the "me", together with values attached to these concepts.
The values attached to experiences, and the values that are a part of the self-structure, in some instances, are values experienced directly by the organism, and in some instances are values introjected or taken over from others, but perceived in distorted fashion, as if they had been experienced directly.
As experiences occur in the life of the individual, they are either, a) symbolized, perceived and organized into some relation to the self, b) ignored because there is no perceived relationship to the self structure, c) denied symbolization or given distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self.
Most of the ways of behaving that are adopted by the organism are those that are consistent with the concept of self.
In some instances, behavior may be brought about by organic experiences and needs which have not been symbolized.
Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.
Psychological adjustment exists when the concept of the self is such that all the sensory and visceral experiences of the organism are, or may be, assimilated on a symbolic level into a consistent relationship with the concept of self.
Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself.
Under certain conditions, involving primarily complete absence of threat to the self structure, experiences which are inconsistent with it may be perceived and examined, and the structure of self revised to assimilate and include such experiences.
When the individual perceives and accepts into one consistent and integrated system all his sensory and visceral experiences, then he is necessarily more understanding of others and is more accepting of others as separate individuals.
As the individual perceives and accepts into his self structure more of his organic experiences, he finds that he is replacing his present value system - based extensively on introjections which have been distortedly symbolized - with a continuing organismic valuing process