This is a brief guide to the difference between self-love and selfishness. There is an increasing cultural emphasis on the importance of self-love and self-care.
Sometimes the emphasis on self-love 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.
Recognizing our dignity and the dignity of others helps us practice self-love instead of selfishness.
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.
When we get stuck in the wounded self, we don’t understand the difference between self-love and selfishness.
Here are some ways that Self-love and Selfishness operate differently:
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 selfishness and self-love is important to understand because 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.
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