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 loving oneself 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.
Loving Oneself 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, loving oneself 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 loving oneself is not in practice, the true needs of others are rarely considered. When there is no self-love present. 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. It’s typically rooted in selfishness (wanting to appear friendly, nice, caring, etc.) rather than considering the other person’s need for growth or healing. The lack of loving oneself means we always default to the other person as being right, and let them go unchallenged. 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. By learning to love oneself, you’re learning that you’re 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 loving oneself sounds a lot like what Jesus would do.
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