I'm self-centered and I have no problem
admitting that. This does not mean I neglect other people at all. This does not mean that I am more concerned with my happiness than anyone else's. It does mean, however, that as an individual being, I have a center and that center is my self. To avoid sounding to "oprah
-esque", I'll define these terms.
"Centered", in this case means, "focused" or perhaps "focused around something". "Self", in this case, would be my body and mind as I subjectively perceive them.
I am aware of my actions and their results. I take responsibility for them. This is due, in part, to my being self-centered. I think about myself and my past a lot. I question my socialization and I spend a lot of time trying to understand what has made me the person I am. While I do this I do not neglect my friends or otherwise put my happiness ahead of others.
If a person is going to have a center, what else should it be but themselves? Many people who condemn the "self-centered" people of this world seem to have an agenda. "Don't be so self-centered! Learn to give yourself to god!" Or perhaps "You're too self-centered, why don't you think about me for a change?" (Read: 'For a change' as 'exclusively'). "Don't be so self-centered, think about the good of the company", "That girl is so self-centered, she just stares out the window during my lectures."
Many people in the USA don't have a clue who they are or how they got to be who they are. Many of their most important formative memories have been killed away by drugs such as alcohol. The memories of these events are gone, but the long-term psychological effect of them is still there. Their personality remains, but the path that individual took to become that way is obscured. A healthy dose of self-centering could cure this phenomenon immediately.
The threat of a self-centered person only exists in societies that do not understand that we are all linked together, in places that don't understand that we are all one being seperated only be our insignificant bodies. How can being self-centered be harmful when we believe that there is only one self?