Self-compassion, Self-Love and Self-Directed Kindness, What is Just?

The Difference Between Self-Love and Selfishness

This is a brief guide to self-love and how it differs from selfishness. And if you want to read a more in depth post about this idea, you might like this one:

Why Self-Love is Not Selfishness and Narcissism

You might also like to read about my own experience with authentic self-love here:

Seven Steps to Love: Recovering from Self-Hate

Why This Topic is Important

There is an increasing cultural emphasis on the importance of self-love and self-care.

Sometimes this emphasis may worry us because self-love sounds a bit like selfishness. And we know selfishness is not a good thing.

Selfishness is definitely a bad and destructive character trait to have. On the other hand, authentic self-love is healing and life-giving both to ourselves and to others.

To show this, I would like to share a brief guide to these two states of mind.


Self-love honors and nurtures the light in us (our Wise Self), and it heals that which is diseased and dark in us (our Wounded Self). You can read more about the Wise and Wounded Self at the links at the end.



Selfishness, on the other hand, disregards our light and the light of others. In doing so, it makes our Wounded Self the center of the world. It dwells in the disease of the Wounded Self and encourages it to fester.


Here are some more differences: 

Self-Love leads us to honor and to connect consistently with the Wise Self. This increases our love, wisdom, creativity, and compassion.

Selfishness leads us to sink further and further into the Wounded Self. In doing so, we prioritize the addiction, compulsions, and self-numbing behavior that flow from the Wounded Self.

Self-Love leads us to greater love and caring for others. It helps us to see that just as we possess a Wise Self, so does everyone else.

Selfishness leads us to prioritize our thoughts, needs, and feelings at the expense of everyone else. We neither recognize our Wise Self or other people’s Wise Self.

Self-Love encourages trust, love, and community, In this state, we encourage our own Wise Self and the Wise Self of everyone else.

Selfishness encourages fear, distrust, and extreme individualism. In this state, we believe that life is a zero-sum game. If you get more, that means I have less.

Self-Love encourages healthy boundaries. We encourage other to treat us with respect, and we treat others this way, too.

Selfishness pushes us to violate other people’s boundaries for our benefit. It also encourages us to violate our own boundaries to feed our addictions and compulsions.

A Parting Thought

The difference between these two states of mind is important to understand because authentic self-love allows us to be our own best friend as well as a loving friend to others.

We don’t need more selfishness, but we definitely need more self-love.


If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it on a social media.

If you would like to read more about self-love and the Wise and Wounded Self, you might enjoy these posts:

Recognizing Self-Hate: Step One: Seven Steps to Love

Remembering Love: Step Two: Seven Steps to Love

Recovering from Self-Hate By Returning to Love: Step Three: Seven Steps to Love

Dealing With the Dark, Diseased, and Wounded Parts of Us: Step Four: Seven Steps to Love

Seven Steps to Love: Recovering from Self-Hate

If you would like read a more in depth account of the difference between self-love and selfishness, you might like this post: Why Self-Love is Not Selfishness and Narcissism

This is one of my favorite books about love: bell hooks, All about Love

26 thoughts on “The Difference Between Self-Love and Selfishness”

  1. Excellent points and reminder. Self care is getting ever more important in this crazy world! Someone once put it to me like this: “You have to refill your own well if you want to give water to others.” I thought that was a good way to word it.

  2. I loved this perspective, although I’m pretty broken right now. I’m thinking I have to dissolve my second marriage. I tried so hard. For 15years. But it’s time to go and it’s killing me. This helps.

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