Were you taught to believe that loving yourself is selfish? Discover the difference between taking care of yourself from your wounded self or from your loving adult. Also, discover whether you are inadvertently contributing to the darkness of our planet, and what you can do about it.
Hi everyone. This is Dr. Margaret Paul with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I will be talking about why loving yourself isn’t selfish and about the big difference between being selfish and being truly loving to yourself.
I often have clients ask me, “If I just take care of myself and look out for my own highest good, wouldn’t I be selfish?”
The answer is, yes and no. Yes, if you are asking the question about your highest good from your wounded self, and no if you are asking it from your loving adult.
When the narcissistic aspect of the ego wounded self asks about your highest good, it is concerned with the earthly level – with acquiring things and money, with achievements and with recognition. According to the narcissistic aspect of the wounded self, it is okay to step over others to get what you think you want or need. The end justifies the means. It is all about you – your wants, your needs and your desires. This aspect of the wounded self is self-centered and selfish, quite unconcerned about the effect your behavior has on others. It is also unconcerned about your true highest good. It just wants to have control over getting love, avoiding pain and feeling safe.
However, if you ask about your highest good from your loving adult, you are asking about the highest good of your SOUL. The loving adult is concerned with your highest good on the spiritual level – about what is in the highest good of the immortal part of you, rather than about what you think you want or need right now. And it is never in the highest good of your soul to be selfish and uncaring toward others. Quite the opposite.
When we are asking about what is in our highest good from the loving adult, we are wanting to support our own highest good AND the highest good of all. We know that whatever is truly loving to us is also loving to others. It is never about “I’m going to take care of me, regardless of how it affects you.”
The loving adult knows that we will never feel good about ourselves when we come from a self-centered place. We came to this planet to evolve our souls in love and the full manifestation of our gifts. We cannot fulfill our soul’s journey when we stay stuck in our wounded self, just trying to get everything we can at anyone’s expense.
While Inner Bonding is about taking loving care of our self, it is about doing this in connection with our spiritual guidance. The wounded self wants to convince us that we are being loving to ourselves when we close our heart to protect against being hurt but being closed-hearted will never make us feel good or safe. Our safety lies in learning to be a loving adult, taking loving action for ourselves without violating others.
Selfishness comes from fear and insecurity, from being afraid to care about others for fear of being taken advantage of, and from believing that you need others to give themselves up for you. It comes from an abandoned child desperately trying to get what it needs from others because you are not taking loving care of yourself. The more you learn to be a spiritually connected loving adult, the more powerful and the less selfish you will become.
Far from creating selfishness, the practice of Inner Bonding creates just the opposite. It creates personally responsible adults who are far more concerned with being kind and compassionate with themselves and others than with getting love, attention, approval or things.
Sometimes clients have asked, “If I become more loving, won’t I be weak? Won’t I let people take advantage of me? Don’t I have to be selfish to be safe from being used?”
Loving yourself and others has nothing to do with being weak. Again, it is very much the opposite. The loving adult, connected with a source of strength and wisdom, would never let others walk all over you, because this would not be loving to you or to them. The loving adult is strong, open, and powerful, willing to take loving action on your behalf – action that supports your own highest good and the highest good of others.
Many of us grew up with a skewed definition of selfish. I certainly did. I was told repeatedly by my grandmother that if I didn’t do what she wanted, and instead did what I wanted and what felt right to me, I was being selfish. It took me a long time to understand that she was the one being selfish by expecting me to give myself up for her. She wanted things her way. She wanted a lot of control, so she called me selfish if I didn’t do things her way, which was crazymaking.
You’re being selfish when you try to have control over getting others to give themselves up and go along with what you want, and you’re being selfish when you don’t care about the effects your behavior has on others.
If you’re giving to others with an agenda, like you’re being nice and being giving, but you’re really doing it with an agenda to get something back, then that’s also selfish because you’re not giving from your heart. You’re giving to get something. If you’re over talking, talking on and on and not listening, you’re trying to have control over people listening to you, paying attention to you, giving you what you’re probably not giving to yourself. This is coming from your wounded self, and the wounded self is selfish and self-centered.
And anytime we harm others for our own ends, of course that’s being selfish, and we see that happening a lot on our planet. There is much greed in the food industry, the drug industry, the insurance industry, and that’s certainly being selfish. They’re not caring about the effect that they have on our planet, on the environment, or on our health. They just want the power and control that comes with money. and they don’t care about who or what they’re harming. And, of course, racism, sexism, homophobia – all are coming from the fear and selfishness of the wounded self.
We’re not being selfish when we’re loving ourselves, when we’re being self-responsible. When we do what brings us joy with no intent to harm another, we are being self-responsible, which is loving to ourselves. Another person might not like it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s selfish.
Let’s say that you’re in a relationship and your partner wants you to sit and watch TV with them. But you want to read a book. Now your partner might say, “You’re being selfish because you’re not sitting with me,” but you’re just doing what feels right and nurturing to you. You are being self-responsible, not selfish. If you do what is loving to you with no intention to harm anybody else, even if they don’t like it, it’s still not being selfish. But if your partner tells you that you are being selfish, then he or she is being selfish and trying to control you and make you responsible for his or her feelings.
We’re being loving to ourselves and self-responsible when we’re supporting our own highest good, even if someone wants us to do something other than what we’re doing. And they may be unhappy about it but that doesn’t mean we’re being selfish. Like with my grandmother, who lived with us. My grandmother was an Orthodox Jew and she believed that I should not be doing my homework on Saturday. So if I was doing my homework on Saturday, she was telling me that I was selfish, but really it was her being selfish. I actually had to hide in a closet to do my homework because she would follow me around to make sure that I wasn’t doing homework. Obviously, I wasn’t doing anything to hurt her. I wasn’t deliberately trying to harm her, but because I wasn’t doing what she wanted, she was telling me that I was selfish. I was doing what I felt was in my highest good, doing my homework, and it was what I wanted to do.
Think about those situations in your life, where somebody is telling you you’re selfish, or you’re telling somebody else they’re selfish, just because they’re doing what they want to do rather than doing what you want them to do, or you’re not doing what they want you to do. I have many clients whose mother constantly told them they were being selfish, when it was actually their mother who was being selfish.
We’re loving ourselves and being self-responsible when we are considerate of others wants and needs without giving ourselves up. Like I previously said, it’s selfish to not care about the effect that our behavior has on others, but that doesn’t mean that we should be giving ourselves up.
If somebody else is upset about something we are doing for ourselves with no attempt to harm them, we can care about it. We can say, “I’m sorry that’s upsetting to you. I’d like to understand more about it. Is there anything that I can do to help you with that?” But that doesn’t mean that we should give ourselves up.
Unfortunately, many of us have been brought up to believe that taking care of ourselves is selfish, but it’s really the opposite. I hope you can see that there’s a very big difference between being selfish, trying to get other people to give you what you’re not giving yourself, and being loving to yourself, being self-responsible, taking care of your own needs, taking care of your own feelings, doing what brings you joy with no intent to harm anybody else and caring about the effect that your behavior has on others.
If we look at some aspects of our society today, such as the food industry, you can see selfishness at work. As many of you know, I’m very passionate about health and I’ve been eating all organic for 60 years. I’m very careful of what I put in my body because I want to keep my frequency high enough to access my guidance. And I want to have high energy and health. But if you go into any supermarket and you look at the shelves, you see that it’s full of non-foods. These foods are devitalized. They’re full of pesticides and preservatives and toxic additives. They may have GMOs in them. These are not foods that nurture the body. They are foods that create illness. And yet this is what so many of the food manufacturers are putting out there and advertising as healthy. They don’t care about the effects these non-foods have on you and on your children. They even put ingredients into the foods to purposely create addiction to the food. It’s all about the bottom line for them.
And we have only to look around at the healthcare crisis with so many people getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases, as well as autoimmune diseases, to know that the foods so many people are eating are killing them. But these big businesses don’t care about the effect that what they’re producing has on the population. They’re coming from greed. They just want to make money. That is what I call selfish. They’re doing what they want with no concern for the effect that their behavior has on others or on the planet.
So when you’re looking at your own behavior and you want to determine whether or not your behavior is loving to you, or whether or not your behavior is selfish, look at whether what you’re doing is for your own highest good. It’s what you want to do with no intent to hurt anybody, and you’re caring about the effect that it has on others. Or are you making other people responsible for your feelings? Are you using them in some way? Are you being nice and giving to them to get something from them? That kind of giving is manipulative. It’s not caring. It’s not personally responsible. It’s not loving to yourself. When we give without any agenda, that’s loving, it’s a joy to give to other people just for the sake of giving. But if we’re giving to get something back, that’s manipulative, that’s selfish because it’s really about what we’re going to get. It’s not about true giving to others.
So think about if you’re in a relationship and your partner wants to see a particular movie, and it’s not a movie that you would like to see. I can’t watch violent movies so if I had a friend or partner who wanted to see a violent movie, I’d say no, I don’t want to watch that movie. But if that person says to me, “You’re being selfish, because I really want you to watch it with me,” it’s that person who’s being selfish. That person is expecting me to give myself up for them. But if I’m saying no, I don’t like those kinds of movies, I can’t watch violent movies, I’m being self-responsible. I’m taking loving care of myself. I’m doing what’s in my highest. good. So that’s what you want to think about when you’re thinking about your own behavior and realize that truly loving yourself is the opposite of being selfish.
My client, Barbara, was struggling with understanding the difference between being nice to avoid conflict and being nice because she enjoys being nice. She said, “I’ve worked on not being controlling in my life over the last few years, but I feel like one way that I still control is by being nice to avoid conflict. How do I tell the difference if I’m being nice because I want to be nice versus am I trying to get something or avoid conflict or be liked?”
I said to her, “If you’re being nice to avoid conflict, that’s controlling. If you’re being nice to get something, that’s controlling, if you’re being nice for the joy of being nice, which I call being loving with no agenda – you don’t expect anything and you’re not trying to avoid anything, then you’re not trying to control anything. It’s the wounded self that is nice in order to avoid something or get something, but it’s the loving adult who’s nice and caring and loving just for the joy of it. It’s about being honest with yourself about whether or not you’ve got an agenda attached to being nice.”
Many of my clients struggle with guilt about believing they are being selfish when they do what feels right and loving to them. Many people have been programmed in their wounded self by parents, teachers, and religious leaders to believe that doing what feels right and loving to us – that following our own heart and soul is selfish. As you learn and practice Inner Bonding and learn to connect with your higher guidance, you learn to trust your guidance more than your wounded self. Your guidance will let you know that taking loving care of yourself with no intent to harm another, is not selfish.
Think about what would happen on this planet if everybody were taking responsibility for their feelings, if everybody was taking responsibility for supporting their own highest good and everybody else’s highest good. We’d have a loving caring planet, not a selfish planet.
Many of us were trained to believe that giving yourself up and caretaking others is loving to you and to them. It was a shock to me when spirit brought us Inner Bonding and I discovered that caretaking isn’t loving at all – that it’s a form of control to get love and approval. When I discovered how controlling I’d been with my caretaking, my tendency was to judge myself for it. But that’s also not loving. Self-judgment is another form of control – it’s what my wounded self learned to do to feel safe, but all it did was make me anxious.
I have many clients who came from abusive homes with no love at all. And most people, even if there wasn’t abuse, have no idea how to love themselves because they never saw their parents or others loving themselves. I often receive this question from my clients: “How can I love myself? If I was raised in a house where there was no love – there was just punishment and violence. I don’t know what love looks like.” I didn’t come from a violent home, but I also had no role-modeling from my parents of what it looks like to love yourself.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re sentenced to not be loving to ourselves. One of the beauties of Inner Bonding is that the practice of it develops your connection with your higher guidance, and your guidance becomes the role-model. So if you’re coming from a belief that just because you came from a home with no love, it means that you can’t love yourself, it’s important to accept that that’s a big false belief. Anyone who practices Inner Bonding and who has the intention to learn to love themselves, can learn to love themselves. You don’t have to let your past determine your present. The past does not determine your present intention.
I often have clients or members of IBVillage who ask me a question such as my client Mary asked me. She said: “I’ve been practicing Inner Bonding for a couple years and I’m really excited about it. I feel like it’s changed my life, but I’ve also lost people along the way because I’ve changed. I’ve grown. I feel like I speak up for myself more and when I speak up for myself it’s not in an aggressive way, but just, ‘Hey, that’s just not okay with me. Or can we talk about this in a different way?’ But sometimes my wounded self tells me I’m being unloving or selfish and that’s why I’m losing friends. That I’m doing something wrong in taking care of myself. I get these moments of self-doubt, and I’m wondering what could I do with that? Or is it just a matter of perhaps these people are not meant to be in my life? It’s confusing to me.”
What I told Mary is that this happens to almost everybody who goes on a personal growth path because you made your previous friends at a lower frequency than you have now. We attract at our common level of woundedness and our common level of health. You were attracting at the level you were at before you started doing Inner Bonding, which was your common level of woundedness with your friends. But when you practice Inner Bonding, you move into more emotional health with a higher frequency, so you’re not going to continue to connect well with some of your previous friends. Almost everybody experiences this who is on a growth path. And in fact, I wrote an article about how often people are losing friends. There’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not being selfish – you’re being self-responsible. But sometimes we have to go through a period of not having a lot of friends and have the faith that new friends will come in. So if somebody leaves your life because you’re taking loving care of yourself, then let them go because they’re not supporting you in learning to take loving care of yourself.
Mary was worried that she was judging her previous friends when she couldn’t connect with them, and I told her that there’s a difference between being judgmental and being discerning. The wounded self judges people as good or bad, right or wrong, and that’s not at all helpful. But the loving adult is discerning and discerns whether or not this person is a good fit for you as a friend or a good fit for you as a partner. It doesn’t mean they’re good or bad, right or wrong. It just means that there might not be the kind of connection that you want to have with them. That’s not being judgmental, that’s being discerning.
Most of us learned to abandon ourselves from the role modeling of our parents, caregivers, and society. But few people realize that abandoning yourself is selfish toward both other people and our planet.
Imagine a pond with sparkling clear water. Imagine that someone drops a small drop of black ink into the pond. You don’t see the difference with your naked eye, but the water is now slightly darker. Over time, others drop small drops of black ink into the pond, and after a number of years, the water is now cloudy.
Now imagine that the pond is a room, and the water is love. At the beginning the love around us is totally sparkling clear, but as each person moves out of love and into anger, judgment, hurt, anxiety, depression, or emptiness, they put a drop of darkness into the room, and soon the room feels heavy and dark instead of light.
Now imagine that it is not a room, but our planet, and that each time we move into our wounded selves – physically and emotionally abandoning ourselves and thereby creating our wounded feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, aloneness, emptiness or jealousy, we add to the darkness of the planet.
Our frequency either adds light to our world or darkness to our world. Our choice to act out of our wounded self and abandon ourselves is not just about us – it is about everyone.
Joanie was at Kim’s 50th birthday party. Kim was one of Joanie’s best friends and she had worked hard to create a wonderful birthday for Kim. Joanie had not wanted to invite Gretchen, Kim’s sister-in-law, but she knew that Kim would have been upset if Gretchen hadn’t been invited.
One of the ceremonies that Joanie had created for Kim was for everyone to sit in a circle and share with Kim what she meant to them. As people shared their love and admiration for Kim, Gretchen started to pout. Before her turn, she abruptly got up and angrily left the house, slamming the door behind her. Everyone felt stunned. The woman who had been speaking wondered if she had said something wrong, but she was assured that Gretchen’s behavior had nothing to do with her. This is just what Gretchen tended to do when she felt threatened and jealous, which she often felt toward Kim.
The energy in the room, which had felt warm and soft, now felt heavy. Gretchen had dumped her darkness on everyone. Joanie asked everyone to take some deep breaths, feel compassion for themselves, and then extend the compassion out to Gretchen. As everyone did this, the energy again lightened, and the ceremony went on.
But the drop of darkness that Gretchen dumped did not stop with the room. That drop of black ink reverberated throughout the universe, as a pebble dropped into a pond sends ripples throughout the pond.
We each have the power to choose our intention.
Choosing to act out of our wounded selves is not only harmful to our own soul – it is harmful to the universe. It is an act of selfishness to choose to add darkness to the universe rather than consistently choosing to add light.
Each of us has the power and the responsibility to do all we can to consciously and consistently add light to our universe. We can do this by deciding to take responsibility for our own feelings. If Gretchen had taken responsibility for the lies she was telling herself that led to her jealousy, she would never have acted out. She would have become conscious of the self-judgments and other forms of self-abandonment that were causing her insecurity. She would have connected with her guidance, bringing in love and truth to heal her wounded self, so that she could come to the party with love in her heart, rather than coming from fear.
There is much darkness on our planet now and we each have a responsibility to stay in the light. The next time you want to act out of your wounded self, think about your behavior as contributing to the lowering of the frequency of our planet. Perhaps this will help you make a different, more loving choice.
I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”
And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:
- And my newly released book, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding
And, of course, we have much to offer you at our website at https:www.innerbonding.com.
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.