Selfish or Self Love 3 Ways To Tell The Difference



Are you holding yourself back from taking care of your needs because you feel like you are being selfish?


If so, you are not alone. Many of us put other people's needs in front of our own, and yes, this may be honorable, but it can also lead to burnout and resentment.


The question becomes, how do you take care of your needs as well as those of others? The first step is to realize that self-love is not selfish and learn how to tell the difference.


My Story…

Last year I was so empty, I had nothing left to give. I was physically and emotionally drained to the point that I was having trouble making it through the day, being the calm, loving, and organized mother/leader that my children and team expected from me.


I remember driving to work sobbing, coming home at the end of the day and giving the kids cereal for dinner, and crawling in bed with them to watch a movie. I did not want to feel so empty. I knew something needed to change, and I decided that I would spend some time giving myself love to fill up my love tank so that I was able to share my love with others around me. And I have to tell you I felt guilty and selfish.

o I would apologize to my employees if I needed to take a PTO day

o My heart would twist a little if I told my 3-year-old that Mommy needed to take a bath by herself this time.

o I would feel like a horrible friend if I had to turn down an invitation for a night out because I was exhausted from a long week and wanted a night in cuddling with my kiddos.



Why did I feel guilty and selfish? I realized that at some point in my life, I created an untrue story that self-love is selfish, that I would not be loved if I took care of my needs.


This was a "un" truth, a wound that I needed to heal. I had to learn what healthy self-love looks like, and on the flip side what selfishness looks like.




Difference between self-love and selfishness

I found a beautiful description of the difference between self-love and selfishness in a blog called Love Is Stronger – {Click for Full Article}

Self-Love honors and nurtures the light in us (our Wise Self), and it heals that which is diseased and dark in us (our Wounded Self).

Selfishness, on the other hand, disregards our light and the light of others. In doing so, it makes our Wounded Self the center of the world. It dwells in the disease of the Wounded Self and encourages it to rot.

AHA moment. When practicing self-love, you are listening to your heart/gut/intuition. You want to be guided by love and compassion for yourself and others. If your actions are being driven by fear or anger, that is a sign there is a wound that needs to be tended to and healed.


3 Reasons Self Love Is Not Selfish

ONE | Intentional

When you make choices guided by self-love, you are intentional. Having a clear understanding of your values, priorities, and goals allows you to make life choices to support who you are and nurture the light within.


Self-love: When your self-love tank is full, you can give to others wholeheartedly.

Selfishness: When your heart is filled with resentment and anger, that is when you can fall into the "it's all about ME" OR "I am a VICTIM" trap.

AHA Moment. You want your actions to come from a place of love and not resentment. This means that relationships are built on trust, respect, and healthy boundaries.


TWO | Clarity

Love should really be a verb and not a noun. Relationships and almost everything in life requires maintenance for success. Living your life with Clarity on WHY you are making the choices you are making. Are they coming from a place of fear, anger, resentment? Or are they coming from a place of curiosity, love, and compassion?

Self-Love: We just don't have the time to be all to everyone. Having a clear understanding of the people, goals, and priorities that are important to you helps guide how to use your time wisely.

Selfish: Doing what feels suitable for that moment, not thinking about how the actions will impact you and those around you long term.

AHA Moment. Learning how to listen to your instincts as a way to help guide you to heal wounds and move to a place of love and compassion builds internal peace and confidence.


THREE | Balance

Peace and happiness come from living a balanced life. Even healthy habits can become unhealthy when they are done in excess.


Self-love: Life is all about balance, and there will be times when other's needs will NEED to go before your own, especially when you are raising small children or taking care of others. Self-love is balanced. Is it making sure that you take time for yourself, even if that means you need to hire a sitter so you can get some alone time.

Selfishness: There is no balance, your needs and wants come first. Can you show up for others when THEY need you, not just when it is convenient for you.

AHA Moment. If my actions are balanced with the activities of those around me, then taking time for myself is healthy.



Dig Deeper

Want more information on how you can start adding more self-love to your life? Check out the following:


  1. Love yourself with the self-love 30 Day Challenge {Click Download}

  2. Read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control Of Your Life {Click to Read Reviews}

  3. Watch TedTalk "Why Self Care isn't Selfish" By Jessica Brubaker


Self-love is not selfish. In fact, it is the opposite. When we love ourselves, our love radiates out to those around us. Self-love encourages healthy boundaries with ourselves and with others. Self-love gives us permission to take care of ourselves just as we would those that we love and cherish. Self-Love is a gift that we give ourselves to pass it on to others with our time, our patience, and our ability to show up and be present for others.


Tell your story... Leave a comment below



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