omeone asked me the other day if loving myself and putting myself first was selfish. As I endeavored to explain the difference, I realized that there is a fine line between the two. The major qualification, when talking about loving yourself, is whether you are referring to the self or Self. These are two distinct different levels of awareness.
'Selfish' comes from the level of "needy, greedy" and the "don't have enough" syndrome. Or as Webster defines selfish -- "being overly concerned with one's interest and having little concern for others". Being selfish is ignoring the Highest Good, and focusing only on our own little "desires and needs".
And Who is The "Self"? (with a Capital "S")
On the other hand, the 'Self' in Self-Love knows that we are of a Higher Essence and that, in its bounty, the Universe has provided for us all. It knows that loving oneself means loving the "self" in all others as well, since we are all "one and the same". We are all spirit living a human experience and here to live and learn. Here to "be".
Once we rest secured in that knowledge, we move away from the need to be selfish. We then know for a fact that there is more than enough for everyone, and that we are always safe and protected. Our actions will stem from the Higher Self... from an innate knowing that what we do is for the highest good of all including ourselves because we are listening to the promptings of Spirit.
Acknowledging Your Divine Nature
When we love ourselves, we are acknowledging our divine nature. We therefore forgive ourselves for, at times, having chosen darkness over light, hatred over love, and fear over faith. Some say that when we make mistakes, those mistakes make us evil. That is not true! We simply have temporarily forgotten the truth of who we are. We are still Children of the Light no matter what we have done in the past. As Jesus supposedly said to Mary Magdalene, "Your sins have been forgiven. Go and sin no more!" We must take this same attitude with ourselves... and with the people in our lives.
We must learn to love and accept ourselves completely both in our perfection and our foibles. We need to forgive ourselves. We need to realize that we will make mistakes at times, and that these mistakes are part of the learning process.
Have compassion for yourself and do not judge yourself harshly for making mistakes (or sins, if you prefer that terminology). You may have believed that you were "bad" and you wore the behavior that fit the belief. You thus were like a sheep in wolf clothing -- a child of God who tried on the costume of the "fallen angel". Remind yourself often that you have outgrown the costume and the role. Acknowledge the truth of who you are... Divine.
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Who Are You? Who Is Directing Your Actions?
Loving yourself means acknowledging who you are, where you've been, and where you are going. To determine if your behavior is selfish, ask yourself if your action is being directed by the 'self' or the 'Self.' When in doubt, ask your conscience... If you don't believe you have one, check again. We all know deep inside when we are being honest, loving, supportive, or when our behavior is directed by fear, lack, and resentment.
Examine your motives, listen to the voice of your Higher Self. It will always lead you on the path of Light, Love, Peace, Wisdom, and Joy. Listen more to your Self -- your self with a capital S. Let the fears, doubts, and resentments fall by the wayside... they are incompatible with the 'Self.' They do not fit in the aura of a being devoted to Light and Love. Those are crutches that are not needed -- you are already whole.
It's time to return to your true essence... Stand up and realize that you are healed of the past simply by your desire to "sin no more". Become who you really are... Your actions will come from the Higher Self -- not self-ish.
Handbook for the Heart: Original Writings on Love
edited by Richard Carlson
(author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff).
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
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