For centuries now, religions have been teaching that it is prideful to think of ourselves first and that pride is evil, the very thing that destroys humanity. Even though there is no scripture (in KJV bible) that directly says, “Loving yourself first is prideful and you’re going to go to hell for it, but loving others first is good and that will get you into heaven,” people have twisted teachings from the pulpits into that logic, pounding it into one another’s head that it is “prideful to yourself love first and that is a bad, bad thing!” When looking at the Bible, it is easy to see how that conclusion can arise, with very little stretch of the imagination.
Case in point:
2 Timothy 3:1-2 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes…
Phillipians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Romans 11:17-21 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Romans 15:1-3 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself…
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble
Proverbs 16:5 Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD…
Proverbs 16: 18-19 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Proverbs 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
Psalm 138:6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
Job 37:24 Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.
2 hours later, after a gigantic leap down the biblical rabbit hole, I’m back …
Even many non-religious cultures are programmed with the concept that thinking of ourself first is wrong. In our English grammar classes in elementary school, they teach us to put others first…
“Me and you went to the grocery store,” is altogether wrong!
What you should say is, “You and I went to the grocery store.”
Additionally, religions have taught the concept that giving is better than receiving, quoting directly from the Bible scriptures such as:
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
When you combine together the teachings of putting others first, having no pride, and giving instead of receiving, you develop a recipe for certain disaster. You create the exact atmosphere we have on this planet right now: false humility, resentment, and overextension of selves, which leads to proverbial – and, even, literal – war.
While it is vital to remember that it IS important to focus on others, it is NOT where our focus should solely be, or even where it should go first. There is a reason why they teach in the emergency protocol on every single commercial flight that you put the oxygen mask on yourself first. If you help others before you help yourself, you. will. die.
Same is true of emotions, energy, and behaviors.
When you are focused outward, your energy – your life force – follows that focus. If you are focused on giving and giving and giving, you WILL eventually – and a lot faster than you realize – be depleted to the point of exhaustion, illness, and even death. When you choose to “take on” that which is not yours as a way of “helping” those around you all in the name of being humble and obeying the commandment to love others first, the destructive downward spiral is even more dramatic.
When you manage the emotions of others by focusing on them and how they are feeling – more truthfully, how you are judging them to be feeling – and then stuff your own emotions and manipulate the environment to “make them happy” and when you adjust your behaviors according to what you judge others to need, you are setting yourself up to experience internal – and quite volatile – resentment.
Selfishness is being focused on yourself at the exclusion of everyone else. This selfishness is experienced by others as narcissistic, uncaring, conceited, dismissive, and sometimes violent. Selfishness can also look like being focused on everyone else at the exclusion of yourself, which eventually devolves into the “martyr” stance. That form of selfishness is experienced by others as manipulative, controlling, intrusive, and pervasive. Both of these expressions of energy are directed toward what is “due,” what you are owed. They have entitlement and expectation embedded within them. And they resonate with the most negative possible aspect of pride: possessing a sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character.
Self-love is being focused on yourself and honoring those around you. This is a gentle state of being that takes into consideration how you feel and what you think. This stance attracts relationships that match that gentleness. When you love yourself, you speak and act accordingly. When you love yourself, you direct that love to you and to others. When you love yourself, you choose according to what honors you and what honors others. If you realize a relationship or situation is uncomfortable for you on an ongoing basis, you remove yourself, rather than expecting change to happen externally.
When you love yourself, pride falls away because there is no expectation, there is no tallying of dues or what you are owed. When you love yourself, you are able to be accountable for your thoughts, words, actions, emotions, and energy because you are actually present for your experience. Loving yourself brings full presence to your own life. It is also where you are able to receive the abundance that is all around you, because you are present to receive it, thereby providing the space where you can give graciously and, because you honor yourself and others, there is no depletion. The give-take cycle transforms to the share-serve cycle.
Loving yourself is the most honorable state to be in because it creates a space that is devoid of abuse, neglect, and abandonment and when you come from that space, you create relationships that are also devoid of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Your relationships are a direct reflection of the atmosphere within you. So, if you are feeling as though your partner, friend, lover, or family member is being selfish, it is time to look within yourself and discover where you are dishonoring yourself.