Self-love and being selfish

Self-love and being selfish

A lot of people today focus on the concept of Self-love and social media is flooded with ways in which people can start practicing the art of loving themselves. But, it is important to ask oneself an important question as to “Can self exist in isolation?”

A lot of us might hear statements like “Don’t act selfishly or don’t be selfish”. There is a thin line between loving oneself and loving oneself to an extent that we do not consider the other person’s needs. For example: In the current scenario, where people are fighting Corona Virus we come across behaviors where people are hoarding necessities like sanitizers, masks, vegetables for themselves and their family members etc. to an extent that is not required. This leaves out nothing for the masses creating scarcity of resources. Is this self-love or being selfish for one’s own particular family as well as for themselves. When one becomes so concerned about oneself that he/she puts the other at a vulnerable position than is it still self-love? I am nowhere discounting the fact that self- love isn’t necessary but the right amount of it is the key. Sometimes we become so occupied in attaining self-love that we might not even know basic things about the people we love such as his/her favorite food item, color etc. Also, we need to keep in mind that while being in the journey of attaining self- love, sometimes we become so blindsided by it that we also become intolerant to other viewpoints. We are not even ready to listen to other person’s perspective because we feel the way we think or feel is the absolute way of thinking and whatever doesn’t align with one’s thinking process is conveniently discarded. But, by doing so what message are we sending to others? This might also then lead to feelings of confusion as to what is it that people actually need or desire? Therefore, they key to this is to continuously introspect and see as to when the line between self-love and selfishness is getting blurred. 

An additional important point that is very necessary to be explained is the benefits of being selfish. One needs to be selfish to a certain degree in order to survive in today’s world. If we are not selfish both factually and symbolically, we might actually invite a lot of issues for our own self. Being selfish also makes us realize our own choices, ideologies, opinions and better informed and adept about our own selves. Especially in a collectivistic society, each one of us has been brought up in a way where we were always taught how “Selfishness” is such a negative quality and no one actually taught us how important it is to be selfish in certain situations. Hence, we all started chasing the path of not being selfish. With the advent of westernized ways of living influencing lifestyles globally, there was a whole new wave of self-love that never intended to self-love to an extent that it actually invites harm to other people. But, we started cherishing the ideal of self-love so much that now few of us are stuck in two opposite extremes. There is no in the middle way of both loving oneself and being selfish that is actually being communicated.  This brings me back to the popular saying “Not everything is meant to exist in black and white; there are shades of grey too”.

Hence, from the above paragraphs we can already sense the confusion prevalent such as: Is too much self - love good or is self- love selfish? Should humans discard selfishness altogether? Or should humans only engage in self -love? Lastly, if both self -love and selfishness needs to exist together then in what degree so as to be considered an appropriate and healthy mix?

Therefore, self-love is exploring and getting in touch with your own self in the most approximate way possible. But, to an extent that the process of exploration isn’t putting anyone else’s interests in a vulnerable position. Self - love also implies acceptance of oneself as one is and considering himself/herself as treasured and valuable. But, it doesn’t imply treating the other person as inferior or any less valuable. Self -love is good to an extent that you consider yourself as equal to the other and as long as it adds on to the journey of one becoming a better version of their own selves. When it inculcates in you a sense of pride, jealousy, feelings of superiority etc. to an extent that isn’t healthy, it should be introspected upon as your actions might harm the other person’s feeling. Therefore, constantly check if self- love is adding to your own individual enhancement or not rather than making you indifferent, uninterested and apathetic towards humans. Another way is to listen to what other people have to say about you in general. This might not mean that whatever they’re saying might be right. Try taking things with a pinch of salt and reflect on viewpoints that you actually think need reflection. By constantly engaging in this trial and error method, one will surely evolve as a better human being.

Therefore, I feel self-love also comes with a lot of individual accountability and responsibility and hence one must exercise it very efficiently and effectively. Hence, try exploring all the ideas with a critical mindset especially in today’s world of know-how where we are constantly flooded with a lot of information. Don’t be in a hurry to refuse or accept any vantage point as given, but try positioning and situating oneself into it.

About the Author

Harsha Baid
Student, Completed B.A Hons. Psychology, Pursuing M.A Psychology at Delhi University, North Campus.

My name is Harsha Baid. I am a first year master’s degree student in Psychology at Delhi University (DU). My experience of academically being

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