Self-Love versus Selfishness

Most of us who are reading this book struggle with seeing ourselves negatively at a core level, whether or not we are even aware of it.  While we may have trouble loving ourselves, we become exceedingly self-reliant.  This is called “pride.”  It is always self-centered, never God-centered.

SelfishnessIf we can be totally honest with ourselves, we are often motivated by the need to self-protect, to get emotional needs met, and to control expectations, outcomes, or other people’s behavior.  Those are all self-serving motives and survival strategies that are independent of God and have pride at the root.

Pride is simply, “It’s all about me.”  It is not necessarily feeling puffed up about ourselves.  Pride also makes us compare ourselves with others, leaving us either “better than” or “less than” them.  Pride causes us to see everything in life from our point of view, our needs, and our desires, and how the situations of life affect us.

Pride often is displayed in two forms.  Both are driven by lack of true identity and self-worth, fear, and control.

  • Self-promotion
  • Self-protection

Admitting our selfishness is a vital key toward genuine change. It can lead to a true sense of brokenness, and the realization of our need for God to operate in our lives at a foundational level.  When we are finally able to get ourselves out of the way and let God fully in, we will experience the type of self-love that leads to healthy relationship skills. God will teach us how to see Him, the world around us, and ourselves through His perspective.

Peter Scazzero, in his wonderful book entitled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life In Christ, said this regarding the nature of healthy self-love:

Jesus was not SELFLESS.  He did not live as if ONLY other people counted. He knew his value and worth. He had friends. He asked people to help him. At the same time Jesus was not SELFISH. He did not live as if nobody counted. He gave his life out of love for others. From a place of loving union with his Father, Jesus had a mature, healthy true self.

Not seeing our true value in who we are in Christ doesn’t mean we’re “humble.”  By doing this, we’re actually allowing ourselves to stay in that self-centered mindset.  Without a Christ-centered attitude, we can continue to replay the old messages in our minds of what our parents or friends told us.  We become bound by trying to overcome those negative perceptions of ourselves and become consumed with self; thus, providing the energy for the unhealthy cycle to continue.

Healthy Self-Love Selfishness and Pride
 I have the ability to accept the person God made me to be, with all my strengths and weaknesses. I focus on myself and all my insecurities and flaws and believe everyone else is focusing on them too.
Since I am forgiven by God, I have the ability to forgive myself.  I understand that “who I am” and “what I do” are entirely separate. Since I haven’t fully grasped God’s forgiveness for me, I am unable to forgive others or myself.  I feel I must pay the price for my actions or attempt to undo them independently.  I feel my actions, or the actions of others against me, justify my sense of worthlessness.
I am able to recognize and embrace my skills, abilities, and authentic identity, knowing that everything I am is to be used for God’s glory. I am attempting to measure myself by the people around me, constantly searching to see whether I have enough to offer.  I often feel either “too good” in some situations (self-promotion), or “not good enough” in other situations (self-protection).
I understand I have inherent worth, value, and ability to love and be loved based on my righteous standing in Christ Jesus, only through His shed blood on the cross.  I try to measure my worth by the things I do, the sense of accomplishment I attain, my efforts to fix people, and my own attempts to be “a good person.”
I am dependent on Jesus Christ and I can do all things through Him. I am dependent on myself, and others are dependent on me too.

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