Self-Love vs Selfishness
Let us start off with a small exercise: Please make a list of people that you love.
No matter how long that list is, hopefully you have also included yourself to it.
A lot of the time when asked to mention people we love, we have a tendency to mention everyone else but ourselves; the most important person. Society tends to get so perturbed and uncomfortable when people declare that they love themselves unapologetically. Doing so, you get labelled as “selfish”. This begs the question: Does that mean we cannot openly love ourselves?
What a lot of people do not realise is that loving oneself openly and unapologetically does not mean there is no room to love others. Self-Love is not selfishness, even though, quite frankly, it requires just a little bit of it.
Self-Love means to love and appreciate yourself, which is a process that is demonstrated in the actions you do that support your physical, psychological and/or spiritual growth and wellbeing. Therefore, making it a process that requires intent and commitment.
Self-love, or the manner in which you show love to yourself (AKA self-care), has an influence on how you live your life, including who you choose as a friend/partner, the image you portray to those around you, how you cope with problems/stressors, and so much more.
It can be easy for it to be misconstrued as selfishness because when one has a high regard for themselves and their needs, in certain situations, what is important is making decisions that do not sacrifice one’s well-being just to please the other.
Of course, self-love can mean different things for different people because we can show love to ourselves in different ways; that is, in our self-care practices or routine. Nonetheless, figuring out how your self-love looks like for you is an important part of your mental health journey.
Benefits of Self-Love/Self-Care:
- Acting in ways that expand one’s love for self (nurturing and cultivating self)
- Accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses
- Not always feeling the need to explain one’s mistakes/shortcomings
- Having more self-compassion
- Being more centered in one’s life purposes and/or values
- Feeling more fulfilled in one’s own efforts
- Being able to be more present for others without leaving the self neglected
Things One Can Do To Show Self Love:
- Talking to, and about, self with love
- Prioritising self
- Trusting self
- Being true to self (values, purpose, needs, etc.)
- Setting healthy boundaries for self
- Forgiving self after making mistakes and/or being too hard on self
- Listening to your body and taking breaks when need be
- Doing something one enjoys and/or is passionate about
- Not being too hard/critical with self
Of course some of these acts can be seen as selfishness, especially when they are done consistently without considering the other. Self-love and selfishness are closely related, as for one to show love to self, a little bit of selfishness is required. You need to choose yourself in certain situations, for your own wellbeing’s sake. It is the purest form of selfishness.
With self-love, it does not mean that you do not care about others, but rather you are choosing to prioritise your well-being first so that you can contribute to others’ well-being in a more meaningful and effective manner. You cannot give what you do not have, and you cannot be for others what you cannot be for yourself, especially in the long run.
With self-love, you acknowledge the other, while still choosing self; while with selfishness, you do not even acknowledge the other.
When one is selfish, they lack consideration or regard for the other because one is more concerned with one’s own personal benefit and pleasure, and sometimes at the expense of the other.
“No one else matters but me” – Selfishness
“I am just as valuable as other people” – Self-love
When you hold yourself in high-esteem, you are more likely to choose things and people that nurture your well-being and treat you well.
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