Self-Love vs. Selfish: Why Loving Yourself Isn’t A Bad Thing

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When you love yourself, you are free to live a happier, fuller life. Unfortunately, too many people seem to confuse the concept and practice of self-love with being selfish. However, practicing self-love is the opposite of being selfish. In fact, because most people lack self-love, their actions which often look like love are actually based in selfishness and are termed enabling.

Self-Love Is Not Selfish

Self-love involves personal growth, healing and spiritual evolution. It requires accountability and honest reflection, vulnerability and unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion for the self. In this way, practicing self-love transforms a person, makes them more emotionally and spiritually available and capable of truly loving another.

For this reason, self-love is the opposite of being selfish. In fact, learning to love yourself actually involves holistic, personal evolution. And, as such, it allows you to begin genuinely respecting and considering the needs of others because you’ve actually learned to respect and consider your own.

It May Look Like Love, But …  

When self-love is not in practice, the true needs of others are rarely considered. Acts of kindness are typically attempts to get approval, validation or attention, rather than genuine efforts to spread love and light.

With regard to the constant helping of others in close relationships – like family, friends or romantic partners who consistently require emotional, physical or financial bailouts – what looks like love is actually enabling. The latter is typically rooted in selfishness (wanting to appear friendly, nice, caring, etc.) rather than considering the other person’s need for growth or healing. Conversely, self-love would consider the overall safety and respect for self, as well as the need for accountability, growth and healing of others.

Remember The Flight Attendant’s Instructions

When considering safety and respect for yourself prior to the needs of others seems like an act of selfishness, take note of your pre-flight instructions.

When informing you of what to do in a potential crisis, flight attendants typically say, “In the event of an in-flight emergency, the oxygen masks will drop. Pull the oxygen mask down and place it on yourself first. Then, place a mask on any dependent person next to you.”

Of course, the reasoning for prioritizing yourself over anyone else is quite simple; if you are not first caring for yourself, you will be of no help to anyone else. In other words, if you don’t treat yourself kindly and with love, you can’t do the same for someone else. Anyone who practices self-love is capable of true love – the kind that resembles an open hand, rather than a clinched fist.

Though love is patient, kind and never boasting, it is also not enabling or codependent. Selfishness, however, is. But, where selfishness is about thinking only of what serves your ego, self-love requires you to relinquish the ego and evolve the soul, making you more capable of empathy, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and unconditional love.

Add some faith and hope, and it sounds a lot like what Jesus would do.

You may also be interested in 3 Ways You Can Love Like God Loves

Toshia Humphries is a freelance writer, talk show radio host, life coach and artist in Lubbock, Texas. She possesses three degrees in counseling and psychology with a focus on addictions and has written feature articles on addiction, recovery and mental health for several publications, including Stages of Recovery, Solo Parent Magazine and Recovery Brands. She is the author of the book - Today Is the Day to Sparkle: Daily Affirmations for Those Who Need to Find Their Shine - and co-author of a curriculum for life skills programs for teens. She has been a guest speaker on Transformation Talk Radio, discussing personal growth, addiction, mental health and wellness and currently hosts Girl Power Hour – a talk radio show geared toward personal empowerment, spirituality, healing and growth.