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Is it Self-Love or Selfishness?

By Patricia Briggs

A few weeks ago, I talked about my journey to self-care and how self-love was an integral part of this journey. I struggled with the concept of self-love. In my mind it equated to selfishness. I was brought up believing the two were the same. In reality I think self-love often gets lumped in with selfishness or at least it did for me. There are stark differences between the two and they should not be lumped together. Prior to my self-discovery journey on self-care, I never had the opportunity to distinguish the differences between the two concepts.

Sadly, I admit prior to becoming more knowledgeable, I used to shutter at hearing more recent generations of mothers and fathers state that their self-care was a priority over their child’s care. I would hear, “It makes me a better parent” and feel like it was an excuse rather than a fact. Armed with new knowledge and insight, I can appreciate that in its true form it is a fact. I truly appreciate and applaud the newer generations of mothers and fathers that genuinely promote self-love by living it, by caring and taking time for self, so that they can be present in a healthier state to care for their child/children. (This healthier state includes their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being.)

There are significant differences between the concepts of self-love and selfishness.

Both are fundamentally about love-of-self, but this is where their similarities begin and end.

Self-love is loving and caring for self, while still considering others. Selfishness is loving and caring for self, but at the exclusion of how this impacts others. There is no consideration for other people within selfishness. These are two totally different perspectives and ways of living. Each takes us on a different journey.

The journey of self-love as I discovered leads us to self-care and valuing our needs, desires, and feelings. It also opens the door to a plethora of other things. We learn respect and love for self and others, along with acceptance, garnering for us valuable meaningful relationships. As we learn how to balance caring for others with caring for self, we learn how to set loving boundaries, both spiritually and physically. It is through our connections to others that we practice empathy, compassion, and kindness. Our self-confidence develops and we make difference choices. The journey of self-love choices usually pertains to ones that encourage growth and improvement and lead us to happiness and peace. We make choices authentically reflective of ourselves and our spirits thrive.

On the flip side, the journey of selfishness is one that can harm the spirit. The focus is on getting whatever is wanted, through whatever means necessary. Any authenticity is only superficial and is a means to achieve a goal or claim what is believed to be theirs. This results in lack of meaningful relationships. Most opportunities for self-growth are missed as a result. These behaviors mask their insecurities, fears, and need for other people’s approval. Choices on this selfishness journey leaves one feeling drained and defeated, instead of uplifted.

I am forever grateful that the younger generations demonstrated for me the meaning of self-love so that I could separate it from selfishness, and incorporate it into my life, along with self-care.

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