What if Self-Love is Conceit – The Purpose of Self-Love
Self-love is, according to the song, the greatest love of all. But self-love isn’t an end itself, especially for leaders.
The lyric goes on, “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow.”
Do you really want a leader who always outshines you?
Magic or conceit:
Self-love seems like magic. It makes you attractive and causes you to eat healthier. Self-love lowers stress and increases motivation.
You’ll be happier if you love yourself. You won’t worry what others think.
I frequently hear complaints that higher ups don’t care what we think.
Do you really want leaders who don’t care what others think?
Of course, self-love is a good thing. But not when self-love is an excuse for conceit.
Conceit or healthy self-love:
- Conceit outshines others as a means of putting others down. “I’m better than.”
- Healthy self-love enjoys the talent and achievements of others.
- Conceit performs to be seen.
- Healthy self-love provides confidence for service.
- Conceit needs to be right and blames others when it’s wrong.
- Healthy self-love accepts imperfection and owns mistakes.
- Healthy self-love receives affirmation with gratitude.
- Conceit needs constant affirmation.
- Healthy self-love doesn’t need the spotlight.
- Healthy self-love includes vulnerability.
- Conceit serves itself.
- Healthy self-love knows how to love others.
Purpose of self-love:
The purpose of self-love is to teach leaders how to love others. Anything less is conceit.
How much do you think about your wellbeing and success? Think about the wellbeing and success of others like that.
How much do you worry about your happiness? Worry about the happiness of others like that.
When self-love is reason to center on yourself, you’re conceited.
Self-love isn’t an end in itself and those who think it is are confused, conceited, or both.
When is self-love conceit?
What are some leaderly purposes of self-love?
Is Self-Love Healthy or Narcissistic? | Psychology Today
What Self-Love Isn’t | Psychology Today
Thanks, Dan. As I’ve been preaching on the seven deadly sins and seven contrary virtues, I see “healthy self-love” as humility. Your description here sounds much like humility. Always a needed reminder. Happy Monday!
Thanks Pete. Fascinating comparison. I wonder with comes first, healthy self-love or humility?
I think that when it comes to self-love and humility they must go hand in hand. Without humility, you are right, conceit and selfishness take over. Conceit would be thinking that everything that I do, think, or want goes, where self-love and humility come in is expressed in your #6 “Healthy self-love accepts imperfection and owns mistakes,” by appreciating the impact of my thoughts and actions and how I show up for others there is an honor and love of self. Without it, it is self serving not self-love.
Thanks bardohn, It does seem pretty hard to have one without the other. Humility accepts imperfection. You couldn’t have healthy self-love and be arrogant.
Your suggestion to appreciate how we show up for others seems like healthy self-love.
The interjection of self serving adds clarity. Self-love isn’t self-serving.
I would agree this is humility more than self-love. I struggle with self-love as we are enough of a narcissistic society and self-focused and self-loving that we need a proper term. I heard many years ago, the the term we want to emulate is Servant leader. We have leadership responsibilities and accountabilities as part of fulfilling the role legally and morally. But we also must learn as a leader that we need to serve those who follow us, for without followers, we can’t be a leader. Thus to serve those with humility and mentoring, with exhortation and admonishment when required. We do teach and discipline those we love and we should demonstrate this to those who follow.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, James. We share a struggle with self-love. I wonder what connections there might be between self-love and servant leadership? Perhaps, if we know how to serve ourselves we’re better equipped to know how to serve others?
Dan, I see the healthy self love perhaps and humility as we progress in our journeys through life perhaps we are humbled before we learn self love? My Mother would say to us children “Love each other” so with that in my mind perhaps the love is first before we are humbled. I guess we have to learn love before we can accept love? From the leadership role as James refers to the “Servant leader aspect” stands out as well, we Teach and discipline those we love, similar to parents and children, Teachers and students, leaders and followers, Bosses and workers.
Thanks Tim. Perhaps a person who doesn’t love themselves will find humility difficult. That suggests that self-love comes first. But I’m not going to fight about it today.
too much bouncing around in my head 🙂
I default to an announcement I’ve heard thousands of times… In the event of oxygen masks deploying above you, secure you own mask in place before helping others…
My take away,– you need to watch your own well being, in order to effectively watch out for others.
Thanks Ken. The idea of putting your oxygen mask on first has a goal; so you can serve others. It’s not an end in itself. It seems like the illustration works well.
I guess I’m going to get theological first thing this morning, and thank you for putting me into that mind set: in Matthew 22:39 (KJV) it says “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Most people stop at “Thou shalt love thy neighbor,” completely forgetting the “as thyself” part which assumes, in my opinion, that you have to love yourself before you can love others. I don’t think there is conceit in this. Self love allows you to meet other as they are. It allows us to acknowledge the equality in all of us. In this day of “Unconscious Bias” and “Respectful Treatment” training it can be looked at as a necessity.
Thanks Elizabeth. Powerful point. Self-love teaches us how to love others. There’s another place where the text talks about husbands loving their wives like they love themselves. We learn how to love others by know how to love ourselves.
Your post and the comments have very effectively focused this discussion on the “leaderly” purposes of self-love. I think one problem with explaining and understanding the proper role of self-love is the overuse / over-application of the word “love” itself. I guess it dates me that I was a disciple of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and for me, self-love fits into the concept of “Sharpening the Saw.” I have to take care of myself (physically and mentally / psychologically) and all my “tools” (skills and abilities) to be able to perform at my best. I also encouraged this habit in my team members because I wanted them to be their best as well.. This includes so many of the concepts that you write about daily as leaders go about their work. Constant improvement, life-long learning and so many other ideas have a component of self-love involved.
Thanks Jim. It seems we agree that self-love isn’t an end in itself, but a means to effectively serving others. The purpose of sharpening the saw is to better serve others, not simply to serve ourselves.
Just wanted to say thanks for your help in the past. I truly didn’t know about the help and guidance I have been given. I appreciate you. And your posts even though I am not in leadership, your posts are always helpful! I’m reading, The Shame Factor—it’s a read for sure… Jackie
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Self love to me is about self respect and that comes from within not without. By respecting and valuing my worth as an individual, I am able to show that respect and love for others. It is not at all about vanity or conceit but rather about self worth. It is not dependent on my mood or my situation but upon inner spiritual strength and the ability to discern value in self and naturally in others.