Difference Between Self-respect, Selflessness, and Selfishness

By October 11, 2021Mental Health

Acts of selfishness, selflessness, and self-respect fill our world. Those who place their needs above others are selfish, while those who put others above themselves are selfless. Often, the most misunderstood person is a person who recognizes the value of self-respect.

The distinction between the three acts can be confusing, but with a bit of help, we can learn how to recognize the differences. Furthermore, once we realize how each behavior can exist within us, we can learn to increase our self-respect without sacrificing ourselves.

Selfishness

Selfishness is when a person is overly concerned with themself.

Being selfish doesn’t mean we act with the intent to hurt others, but our actions do have consequences. When we put our comfort and convenience or prioritize our wants above others, we neglect to think of how our actions affect other people’s lives.

We can begin to identify selfish behaviors if we start therapy and look for these signs:

  • We manipulate others
  • We always need something from someone
  • We don’t respect others’ time

When we realize we have one or some of the signs of selfishness, we can change our behavior. There are several options, including individual or group therapy.

Selflessness

A selfless act helps us understand and connect with others. Those who perform selfless acts can do so because they aren’t acting out of the need to be noticed or boost their self-worth.

Selfless people often:

  • Think more about others’ needs than their own
  • Give to others without the expectation of personal gain or recognition
  • Aren’t the center of attention
  • Understand their actions can affect others

What are some examples of selfless acts? Here are a few:

  • Holding the elevator
  • Giving a compliment
  • Surprising a person with a treat, such as coffee, chocolate, or something they like
  • Helping someone without being asked
  • Make someone’s commute easier, like letting someone merge into the lane.

If we decide to perform an act of kindness, it must come from within ourselves. Those who record themselves giving food to a homeless person or paying it forward and post about what they did for another aren’t performing selfless acts.

Self-respect

The fallacy of self-respect is that it is selfish. Instead of thinking of self-respect as a negative, let’s look at how self-respect positively impacts our lives.

The term self-respect is used interchangeably with self-esteem. Our sense of respect comes from how we see or feel about ourselves.

We can practice self-respect by setting boundaries, forgiving ourselves for our mistakes, and loving our imperfections.

Learning to increase our self-respect comes from appreciating who we are regardless of our environment. To improve our self-respect, we can work these ideas into our daily routine:

  • Practice self-care. Self-care is when we take time for ourselves through activities that promote peace and reconnect us to our inner selves. Remember, we can’t be there for others if we don’t take time for ourselves.
  • Weed out negative influences. If we surround ourselves with people or things that cause mental or physical harm, it’s time we remove those influences from our lives. Find positive influences and role models.
  • How we communicate with others is essential. When we speak to others in a non-confrontational or passive-aggressive manner, we can create a healthy dialog.

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are a healthy way of maintaining our mental and physical health. You know best what is beneficial for your body and mind, so don’t allow others to infringe on your well-being. Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves by protecting our boundaries. It’s okay to tell others to follow our guidelines. When we do this, we aren’t selfish. Instead, we are creating healthy relationships.

Our world includes many different people: those who try to manipulate us, use us, help us, or be our friends. Our boundaries protect us from those who want to control or use us to their advantage.

We can also learn the power of saying “no.” Telling someone or even ourselves no is healthy. In fact, we grow when we say no because it clears the path for what is essential to ourselves and our relationships.

Saying “no” doesn’t mean we stop being kind; it means we start being picky with our time. Once we do this, we can focus on our goals.

Sometimes saying “no” is being true to ourselves. When we are pulled in several different directions, we can lose sight of what is essential. We may think we act selflessly by helping others no matter the cost, but the first goal should always be our well-being. Taking control of your time and energy gives you the power to choose when you can and cannot do something.

Self-respect includes healthy habits we can mistake as selfishness. When we see others mentally or physically exhausted, we encourage them to take care of themselves. Why should we deny ourselves the time we need to reconnect, refocus, or strive towards a goal? Taking time to find our inner peace, follow a dream, or discover ways to help others is self-respect. Accepting who we are and what we need to remain faithful to ourselves requires boundaries, acts of kindness, and love, towards others and ourselves. If you need help learning how to include self-respect in your life, you can seek help in a comfortable, private treatment center. Alta Centers will focus on your individual needs while providing quality and round-the-clock care focused on your individual needs. At Alta Centers, you can find peace and acceptance in the serene beauty of the Hollywood Hills. We welcome all your questions. Call us today at (888) 202-2583.

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