Love Your Self

Selfishness is not identical with self-love but with its very opposite.

Selfishness is one kind of greediness. Like all greediness, it contains an insatiability, as a consequence of which there is never any real satisfaction. Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.

Close observation shows that while the selfish person is always anxiously concerned with himself, he is never satisfied, is always restless, always driven by the fear of not getting enough, of missing something, of being deprived of something. He is filled with burning envy of anyone who might have more.

If we observe closer still, especially the unconscious dynamics, we find that this type of person is basically not fond of himself, but deeply dislikes himself.

Selfishness is rooted in this very lack of fondness for oneself.

The person who is not fond of himself, who does not approve of himself, is in constant anxiety concerning his own self. He has not the inner security which can exist only on the basis of genuine fondness and affirmation. He must be concerned about himself, greedy to get everything for himself, since basically he lacks security and satisfaction.

The same holds true with the so-called narcissistic person, who is not so much concerned with getting things for himself as with admiring himself.

While on the surface it seems that these persons are very much in love with themselves, they are actually not fond of themselves, and their narcissism - like selfishness - is an overcompensation for the basic lack of self-love.

[Erich Fromm]
The Fear of Freedom, p.98-100

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To be concerned for another is to be present to them in the form of an absence, a certain self-forgetful attentiveness. If one is loved or trusted in return, it is largely this which gives one the self-confidence to forget about oneself, a perilous matter otherwise.

We need to think about ourselves partly because of fear, which the assurance which flows from being trusted allows us to overcome.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory

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2 comments:

  1. So, to love yourself - that is; to affirm yourself, to listen to what you need, to take time to know yourself, and to allow yourself the room to grow - is to turn out towards the world.

    To love the self is to love others, and to be more amenable to the other. It is an act in service of the community, because you become more able to service the community.

    It is, in the last, an act of turning outwards.

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  2. It frequently happens that women who do not really love their husbands are jealous and destroy their friendships. They want the husband to belong entirely to them because they themselves do not belong to him. The kernel of all jealousy is lack of love.

    [C.G. Jung]
    Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.159

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