Many people that I meet on my journey often have a quandary over the concept of selfishness, especially when it comes to their own personal growth.
It is often frowned upon by society to be outwardly self-involved, self-promoting, or self-interested, and this often gets broadly categorised as selfish behaviour.
But I am here to tell you that there is an important distinction to be made between what might be perceived as ‘selfish’ behaviour and what can be thought of as ‘self-love’.
Is it the same thing?
No! Because self-love is a vital step on your path to self-acceptance, peace, healing, and liberation from the expectations of others. When you place your own wellbeing and happiness as your own priority, then there begins a powerful shift in your life where you can heal and flourish by expressing your own unique voice and in the process discover your inner beauty. Anyone who wishes to wake up from stale and dogmatic patterns must take responsibility for their own happiness, and learning self-love is a key milestone.
This does not mean that you suddenly stop caring about others. On the contrary, it means that you are better equipped to love others, because you have discovered the compassion and understanding required to love yourself first – a fallible, faulty, and frail human being. It is only when we can learn to accept and understand our own shortcomings and love ourselves totally and unconditionally despite all of our mistakes that we can extend a healthy form of affection to those around us.
Take this in comparison to what might be considered unhealthy people-pleasing, whereby we place the wishes and wellbeing of others above ours to our own detriment. This is the important bit. If we are consistently putting the needs and desires of others first, we can begin to lose ourselves, lose our voices, even ignore or repress our own feelings and desires.
Why does it even matter?
This comes into play during our relationships (both romantic and platonic) and if we aren’t mindful of balancing our own needs with that of others, then precarious and unbalanced dynamics can evolve, persist, and cause more harm than good – and this is often how dysfunctional relationships can form, where one or both parties become overly self-sacrificing to the point where personal boundaries and growth are abandoned in exchange for comfortable or familiar holding patterns.
This simply is not conducive to self-love, or healthy love for others.
We must learn to bring our focus into our own heart centre (anahata chakra) and move from a place of connected self-compassion, where we have taken the time to understand who we are, what we want, and how we need to be loved, so that we can confidently and accurately communicate our wishes and boundaries to others, so that they in turn can understand us and offer the form of love that we so desperately need – a love based on expression, compassion, understanding, openness, and a form of radical honesty that has for decades been lambasted by society.
On an energetic level, this shift in focus to the centre of ourselves can enable us to cultivate the resources and presence to be more readily available to help others grow alongside us. Instead of ‘pouring from an empty cup’, we can become strong pillars of compassion where we help to build each other up from a place of respect and understanding, where we all have learned ethe art of self-love.