X

Cookies on SurvivingInfidelity.com®

SurvivingInfidelity.com® uses cookies to enhance your visit to our website. This is a requirement for participants to login, post and use other features. Visitors may opt out, but the website will be less functional for you.

more information about cookies...

Return to Forum List

Return to Wayward Side

SurvivingInfidelity.com® > Wayward Side

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Selfishness versus Self Love

hikingout posted 1/29/2020 08:41 AM

I have been noticing pattern lately of many new folks not really knowing the difference between selfishness and self-love.

And I think sometimes we think if someone is selfish they love themselves more than they love others. I can understand why that would be the perception, but there are some big differences between those two things. I think it's a good discussion to have here in our WS forum. I have been reading a bit about this aspect and what I am sharing has a few extracts from what I read.

So, to me there are a few litmus tests about this.

Self-love doesn't harm others. It's actually the fountain in which we have so much to give others.

Selfishness is when we use other people to be our fountain.

Self love makes us more equipped to support others because it takes our insecurity and puts it aside. So many of our habits are created out of insecurity - being defensive, lying, being a taker even at the detriment of others, etc. We basically suck the energy from other people to fill that void.

Self love is filling our own voids. It's giving yourself the time and space to replenish yourself so that you have more energy to deal with your life in a productive way. Having boundaries to protect that is an important step to our recovery. When we can get the hang of loving ourselves without apologizing for it you are sending very important signals to yourself that you can provide for yourself, you are enough. Otherwise we feed a selfish cycle that keeps telling us we are never enough, we never have enough.

Shame, self hate, guilt, pain, all of those things are great precipitators to make us curious enough about ourselves to finally make some big changes. But, they do not serve us in the long term. The end goal is to find that self love and to cultivate it so that you are a fountain and not a drain. As we go through our recovery, it's very important that we replenish so we have enough energy to sustain ourselves through this very difficult time. It's important to explore how you got to where you are so that you can understand it's not a mysterious thing where some people are good and some are bad. It's more we have behaviors that have origins that we need to track down so we can dispel the stories we have told ourselves to keep those myths perpetuated.

I think a lot of times we as WS think the problem is we cared about ourselves too much. The problem is we fed our insecurities, and used others to try and pull us out.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of that and others can add to it to provide some good examples. When I got here, I had a hard time understanding how I wouldn't hate myself for all eternity. But that is not the solution to our problems, that's an emotional reaction of someone who has poor coping skills.

rewritemyending posted 1/29/2020 09:07 AM

The end goal is to find that self love and to cultivate it so that you are a fountain and not a drain.

Following ❤️

DaddyDom posted 1/29/2020 11:59 AM

This is a great post, thanks for starting it hikingout!

Self-love and self-respect are at the heart of pretty much all advice I give these days, because I feel that it almost always boils down to that exact reason we cheated, no matter what the actual circumstances surrounding it were. People who have self-love, self-respect, and healthy boundaries and coping skills, don't have affairs. The two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

I struggled with this for a long time as well. My therapist kept saying that I needed to learn to love myself and take care of my own needs in life. However, wasn't having an affair, in essence, me taking care of my own needs as well? How could what I did wrong also be what I needed to do in order to change? It made no sense to me.

Here is what I eventually came to understand about self-love and selfishness (off the top of my head)

Self-love should never intentionally harm others. Selfishness is at the expense of others.
Self-love is about how you treat yourself. Selfishness is about how you treat others.
Self-love is about creating healthy boundaries. Selfishness is about lacking boundaries.
Self-love is based on love and respect. Selfishness is based on greed and need.
Self-love makes us feel whole, complete. Selfishness leaves us feeling empty, incomplete.
Self-love can sometimes be sacrificial. Selfishness requires others to sacrifice for us.
Self-love is a gift we give ourselves. Selfishness is always taken from others.
Self-love requires patience, understanding and forgiveness. Selfishness requires a lack of the same.
Self-love involves knowing and understanding ourselves. Selfishness focuses on needs without understanding.
Self-love never involves shame or anger. Selfishness brings shame and anger.
Self-love sometimes comes at a cost to the soul. Selfishness puts the price on others.
Self-love means finding value in one's self. Selfishness seeks value externally to oneself.
Self-love means putting our integrity first. Selfishness removes all integrity.
Self-love means honoring oneself by maintaining healthy boundaries. Selfishness has no respect for others.
Self-love grows and makes us stronger. Selfishness weakens us and traps us.
Self-love can sometimes make us sad or hurt, because sometimes integrity means not having the things we want, however that same self-love makes our own self-worth greater in order to compensate and make us stronger. Selfishness tricks us into feeling fulfilled but always comes at the expense of others, and ultimately, makes us weaker and less able to withstand future challenges.
We can only love others when we first love ourselves. Selfishness prevents us from loving others because it puts the self first in all things.

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 12:16 PM, January 29th (Wednesday)]

Scubagrl posted 1/29/2020 12:30 PM

Also following...as a betrayed partner, this was good to read. Thank you.

Need2Do posted 1/29/2020 12:41 PM

This is something I can admit to having an issue with. During my affair, I kept thinking (and writing) 'this is for me' - selfish, because I was only thinking of myself and not how my thoughts and nefarious actions were impacting my husband, my children or my grandchildren. I didn't (didn't want to) see past my nose. Now, as I attempt self care and I say something like 'this is good for me', even though it is in a healthy context, I feel like I am still taking away from from husband, and children. There is a very different type of thinking going on in the two different situations, I do understand that, but I still can't shake the feeling that I am being as selfish as I was during my affair...and that is what I need to step away from - that selfish thinking (cheater think).
I realize that I speak from the 'me, me, me' perspective, so maybe that has a lot to do with the 'selfish' feeling that resonates?

hikingout posted 1/29/2020 12:41 PM

Self-love and self-respect are at the heart of pretty much all advice I give these days, because I feel that it almost always boils down to that exact reason we cheated, no matter what the actual circumstances surrounding it were. People who have self-love, self-respect, and healthy boundaries and coping skills, don't have affairs. The two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

I agree, I don't think I have met a WS yet that had a good relationship with themselves.

I really like your list much better, it is much easier to read. I think every person can benefit from having a healthy relationship with themselves, and we must realize this is not something that we get and get to keep. This is something we have to continue cultivating and guarding.

hikingout posted 1/29/2020 12:49 PM

Now, as I attempt self care and I say something like 'this is good for me', even though it is in a healthy context, I feel like I am still taking away from from husband, and children.

I had a lot of issues with this, and sometimes still do. Not as often, but there are times when you have to decide to prioritize differently than what might seem ideal. I may have to delay something I want in order to be there for someone else. As long as I don't always delay it, I can come back and give myself back that time later.

I think of it this way, if I take a nap (though I am bad at naps) instead of doing housework, am I really hurting anyone? No, I am not. In fact, maybe my husband will come home and instead of being greeted by someone who is frazzled and barely holding it together, I rested and I am fresh for him. The housework will wait another day.

It's when it's to the detriment of others. I had a hard time differentiating that. After DDAY the counselor made me stop doing things and start listing my "coulds" and my "shoulds" I was only allowed to do my "shoulds". I had filled all my time with busy, over doing, and had created a huge void within myself. When we are expecting other people to then fill that void, that's when we are being selfish. We are infringing upon them to give us what we need rather than giving ourselves what we need and that becomes a cycle.

kairos posted 1/29/2020 14:01 PM

Excellent post Hikingout....

I think what is so striking about self-love and selfishness is the inverse relationship these two concepts have. When that relationship is out of whack, you get disproportion.

I have struggled with self-love too. It's not a feeling. It's a recognition of one's intrinsic/inherent value.

The inversion relationship: the less we love ourselves, the more selfish we are, because we take/steal (cheat) to fill the gap of simply appreciation ourselves.

The more we love ourselves (self-compassion, honest introspection, self-honesty), the more selfless we can be because we don't need to fill a gap, because the gap is already filled by self-love. The gap is much smaller.

My selfishness (and cheating) was connected to my inability to have compassion toward myself. That inability was expressed with self-destruction, negative thoughts, self-lies, bad habits, and a misguided sense of relationship in my marriage.

Anyway: less self-love => more selfishness. More self-love => more selflessness.

The hard thing is to distinguish between self-love and truly facing one's own deepest ugliness during infidelity.

sisoon posted 1/30/2020 13:07 PM

No stop sign ...

I'm OK with selfishness, or at least I see a big overlap between selfishness and self-love. Outside of parenting, most of what I do - and most what I think we all do - is to help ourselves. I R'ed because I wanted my W. I compromise with her because I want her. I've stayed faithful out of selfishness.

But my W has a hard time being comfortable with compromise. She does a lot for me, but she shies away from conflict. She lets resentments build, less now than 10 years ago, but she still does it.

So I'm happy to state what I want, and that sometimes precludes her from stating what she wants. That's because of her dysfunction, but it impacts us as a couple.

I guess what I'm saying is that if one partner loves him/her/themself, and the other doesn't, there will be problems.

Due to her lack of self-love.

hikingout posted 1/30/2020 13:35 PM

I have struggled with self-love too. It's not a feeling. It's a recognition of one's intrinsic/inherent value

I don't disagree exactly, because self-worth and self-love are along the same veins to me. But self love is something you do. Love is a verb. Self worth is something you will have if you keep doing the verb. It took me a while to understand that when we actively do things that shows ourselves we love and respect ourselves (creating or reinforcing our boundaries, taking care of our needs without hurting others, etc) those are things that remind you that you are worth that -thus you reinforce your self worth.

Sisoon,

I agree - self-love is stating your needs, negotiating your needs, and even for me recognizing what my needs are. That was where I had to start, I didn't know what I needed to even create the boundary, or to request something.
It always came across to my husband as I was the most selfless person he knew. That should have been a red flag to both of us rather than something to reinforce or provide praise about.

It was actually very selfish of me because when I did know I wanted something and didn't state it then I held it as a resentment. Quite passive aggressive, and that's a common thing a lot of people do and not even think about it. It's selfish to want the other person to always figure it out, or want them to mind read. I always thought if he loved me he would know to do x, y, and z, so then you carry forward all these "slights" or "signs your partner doesn't love you".

[This message edited by hikingout at 1:37 PM, January 30th (Thursday)]

kairos posted 1/30/2020 15:05 PM

Hikingout, excellent thoughts: "But self love is something you do. Love is a verb. Self worth is something you will have if you keep doing the verb. It took me a while to understand that when we actively do things that shows ourselves we love and respect ourselves (creating or reinforcing our boundaries, taking care of our needs without hurting others, etc) those are things that remind you that you are worth that -thus you reinforce your self worth."

In particular: boundaries and taking care of ourselves without hurting others makes a lot of sense to me. For me, to even get to the point of the 'doing' part of self-love, I had to imagine a world in which I could love myself. I had to sort of make that choice. But that choice alone -- to your point -- requires ongoing action.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 2/1/2020 07:06 AM

When we talk about self love, I think it isn't a matter stroking ourselves from an ego perspective. That morphs into another realm that can have a bad outcome. I think in this context it is more about knowing we are good versus the opposite. Over these past several years I've had the opportunity to observe my own behaviors against my WS's. And the difference is stark.

I know I am a good person. I know I am not perfect. I know I do things that do not match the good person I know I am. When that happens, I adjust, I make a change to be sure my output, i.e., behaviors, match the person I know I am.

By contrast, my WS kept looking for others to tell him he is good. He put forth a set of behaviors that got him lauded, praised, told he was so great and so wonderful to prove to himself that he was good. The reason he did that was because he didn't believe it. He believed he wasn't good and therefore kept "hustling for his worth" (a la Brene Brown as I'm a fan too). That meant he would adjust who he was to an external source to get his value.

So I think the result is he didn't love himself because he didn't think he was deserving or good or valuable. Therefore self love is not the goal because it is a result of the goal. Self love comes from knowing your worth and value. I believe that's at the core of the issue. And frankly as humans, that's where we are all on equal footing.

My WS has done a great deal of work to understand this and it was extremely difficult. I'm watching him now question everything in his past the way I questioned our mutual past after d-day. He is questioning his motives then, his feelings, his behaviors. The irony is after infidelity the WS foists all of those feelings onto the BS so have to end up doing similar work.

That means we have to work on ourselves (selfish?) in order to be better partners, and offer the kind of selfless caring each of us deserves.

Thanks for this post hikingout. It is a good one!

Return to Forum List

Return to Wayward Side

© 2002-2021 SurvivingInfidelity.com ®. All Rights Reserved.     Privacy Policy