During my teens and twenties, I had some very obnoxious behaviour that, while intensely amusing for me, provoked animosity among others. I had plenty of annoying and obnoxious habits, and today I'll tell you about one that I killed. One of the tricks my body was good at then was regurgitating. I'd eat a meal and then hours later I'd burp up a chunk of something I had previously eaten. I'm sure this has happened to you, and you might flinch or groan, but probably swallow it right back, no one for the wiser. But me, no, I wanted to share this special burp with others. So I took to displaying the contents of whatever had been regurgitated to whomever I was with. I found that this nearly always produced a visceral and severe reaction, which caused me to be helplessly amused. By far the best reaction I could cause was the gag reflex. One time in particular, I had drunk a coke pretty quickly and then I had one of those "foam" burps (very tame in the scope of the regurgitation years) and showed it to Brian, my roommate at the time. He was some kind of sissy, boy, and he immediately started gagging, and finished by throwing up right there on the floor, just from having seen coke foam! Ah, I cried laughing, but after that, he was rather wary of me.
Over the years I learned that people did not like to see the regurgitated contents of my stomach. (Luckily for them, I stopped drinking milk somewhere around 25 and this diminished the frequency of regurgitations greatly.) I still liked doing it, producing a reaction, but I started to care more for my circle of loved ones and started to ask myself why I found so much pleasure from their displeasure. And I turned it over in my mind, and looked at it and pretty much came up with the following. It is sadistic to derive pleasure from the pain of others, and I don't want to act on my sadistic impulses because I don't want my life to be about causing others discomfort, in fact, I don't want the impulses at all, but I know I can only control my behaviour. And I worked on it. And I stopped. And you know what, slowly but surely the impulses faded, and now it's just not a part of "me" anymore. Hooray! (And let me just go on record and say that I'm sorry to all of those whose minds I scarred by doing this to them. Really, I'm truly sorry. You know who you are.)
I share this with you because I think this was a great growing experience for me, and I have applied it to other parts of my life with some success. It helped me when I thought of it this way: What am I here for, is this regurgitating thing "me", part of my "purpose" here on earth? Of course I had to believe that no, this wasn't my purpose. I wanted to be a contributor, not a detractor, a builder, not a destroyer, and finally a nice guy, not an arrogant asshole.
It takes work, probably one's whole life, but it can be done. What thing that gives you pleasure causes others discomfort? If I asked you to come up with the thing that someone would say bothered them the most about you, what would that be? (You know what it is even if you've never been called out on it.) And that's where you should start. Because, and I'm trying to speak from experience when I say, you end up a better person.
Do I sound pompous? I hope not, because I don't mean any of this that way at all.