Self-love is nurturing of growth and allowing oneself the conditions in which to thrive. Imagine you are a budding flower, perhaps a dandelion, a peace lily or a rose. As a flowering plant, you need an ideal amount of sunlight and water, a certain type of soil, and just the right mix of nutrients. To self-love is to allow yourself to be in your ideal garden spot, not too crowded or overly shaded, not burned by too much sun, drinking in enough water but not so much that you drown, receiving all of the nutrients that you need to be strong, resilient, and long-lasting. If a plant could be selfish, (and here the metaphor is a stretch but work with me!) it would be hoarding the sunlight and the shade, the water and the nutrients, taking more than it needs and much of what it doesn't, just to have it all. It would not show its flower, nor share its seed. When you are being selfish, you are taking to the degree you are hurting others and causing them some form of harm.
When we consume more than we need to thrive, we are being selfish. We are wasting precious energy that could help others. We are also being selfish when we neglect to share from our abundance. What is difficult for most of us is discerning what we individually need to thrive, because the measure is different for each person. And the measure varies from individual to individual since we each are a unique blend of energy. The mistake we typically make is going after what we see others pursuing, assuming there is one "right" goal to achieve happiness and they must know what it is. And when achieving that goal fails to bring sustained contentment, we endlessly pursue another and another. It is like looking to everyone else's garden, rather than our own. And the effect on others is selfishness. But how can a peace lily thrive where the roses live? Or a desert cactus bloom in the swamp? When you love and nurture self first, you will find sustained happiness. You will find the affluence you've been seeking because you will feel richly whole. And when you do, you will then have all of this wonderful living energy to help others rather than hurt them. You will love more unconditionally because you will be resilient to the pestilence of disrespect, thoughtlessness, and rudeness that plagues our society. You will be able to look beyond the selfishness and embrace them with graciousness, compassion and forgiveness. Self-love is essential in order to love others. When you try to love others without loving yourself first, you will burn out and feel depressed. (In fact, I define depression as the soul de-pressed.) Get back to self and look within to find the conditions in which you need to thrive. Then live in your own garden, and abundantly flower. That is self-love.