Selfish vs. Self-Loving
People assert that Americans are selfish. And that selfishness is wrong. But there is a basic misunderstanding between “selfishness” and being “self-loving.” Being self-loving is a prerequisite for authentically caring for another person. If self-love isn’t present, then the act of giving is forced and inauthentic. Further, it may even be a manipulation to get love or a “show” to prove love that is not felt.
Why is this? Because how can you care about someone else when you are subconsciously tending to your own wounded inner child who is screaming for attention?
The age-old question of “are people altruistic or self-serving” has an easy answer. If the person was taught self-love (or learned it along the way), then they have the freedom to live altruistically. They value themselves for who they are and not for their accomplishments. They feel naturally connected to others through the current of love within themselves.
If the person grew up without that core feeling of value in just being themselves, then they have to manipulate to get love (because they believe they are unlovable), they have to work hard and compete with others for value and attention and they have to look out for themselves (because nobody else is looking out for them.)
It can be a challenging belief system to change. If you feel selfish, you beat yourself up over feeling that way, which makes you feel worse, which makes you need more love and attention (or the cultural substitutes- more food, alcohol, attention from the others, money, sex, therapy, etc), which makes you feel more “selfish.”
So, how do you get out of the loop?
Bringing compassion to yourself is a good first step. Looking at yourself with loving eyes is the first step in reparenting your inner child toward knowing his/her true value. If you bring compassion to yourself every time you judge yourself (or another) you can begin to feel what unconditional love feels like. The more compassion, the less judgment and eventually, it will all be compassion.
What does “bringing compassion to yourself” feel like? For me, there is a softening of the body, the mind relaxes, the heart says “I love you anyway”, the soul says “I understand” and the eyes only see beauty.
If that doesn’t work, try looking at yourself through your pet’s eyes. All they see is perfection.