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ORSON - Can u please tell me what is the difference being selfish and being self centered. What is the phychological thought behind it, and also what is the spiritual perspective on it.
JOEL - Both words are very closely related. Selfish means you are unwilling to share what you have with others. Self-centered means you are only concerend with your own
well-being without thinking of others. Either one might be considered a symptom of the other.
In the spiritual sense selfishness could mean that you are unwilling to share the gospel with others and self-centered might mean that you are only concerned with your own salvation and spiritual growth and not others.
Selfishness means closing the door on giving service to others, and refusing to allow others to serve us.
The D&C explains some symptoms and consequences of selfishness:
"And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.
Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of
judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!
Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!" (D&C 56:15-17)
Selfishness and greed may temporarily appease one's mortal appetite, but it will leave him spiritually starved and malnourished. There is no happiness in selfishness; it is a sin. Its product is misery and loneliness, and it alienates companions and develops enmity in human relationships.
Selfishness is the basic substance of almost all other sins that Satan has introduced upon the earth. Greed, envy, covetousness, lust, rebellion, thievery, idleness, lying,
hypocrisy, backsliding, immorality, infidelity, pride, arrogance, gluttony, and most other evils are the products of a selfish life.
Selfishness draws men into a spiritual vacuum where, absorbed in self service, they shut out all others who they could serve or who are trying to serve them. Where there is selfishness, the Spirit of the Lord is absent. Talents go unshared, the needs of the poor unfulfilled, the weak unstrengthened, the ignorant untaught, and the lost unrecovered. Just as selflessness can carry us to exaltation and eternal lives, so can selfishness lead us to destruction and eternal damnation.
Elder James E. Faust said:
"Taking up one’s cross and following the Savior means overcoming selfishness... selfishness and greed bring bitterness and contention; on the other hand sacrifice and giving bring peace and contentment.
I have learned that selfishness has more to do with how we feel about our possessions than how much we have. The poet Wordsworth said, “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” A poor man can be selfish and a rich man generous, but a person obsessed only with getting will have a hard time finding peace in this life. As the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “All these things are mine, and ye are my stewards.”
(D&C 104:86.) (James E. Faust, "What’s in It for Me?", Ensign, Nov. 2002, 19–22)
President Gordon B. Hinckley, said:
"Selfishness is a destructive, gnawing, corrosive element in the lives of most of us. It lies at the root of much of the tension between parents and children, and it leads to strain in well-meaning parents who sometimes nurture harmful selfishness in children by indulging with extravagance their wishes for costly and unneeded things.
The antidote of selfishness is service, a reaching out to those about us—those in the home and those beyond the walls of the home. A child who grows in a home where there is a selfish, grasping father is likely to develop those tendencies in his own life. On the other hand, a child who sees his father and mother forego comforts for themselves as they reach out to those in distress, will likely follow the same pattern when he or she grows to maturity." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Environment of Our Homes", Ensign, June 1985, 3)
Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains how closely related pride and selfishness are:
"Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die." ("Pride and the Priesthood", Ensign, Nov. 2010, 55–58)
James E. Faust said:
"Many in the younger generation have been conditioned by the world to want it all and to want it now. They do not want to save or work. Such self-centered, impatient desires make them susceptible to temptation." (June 2006 Liahona)
The self-centered person cares only for his own well-being and can be easily offended. He might say things like, “I didn’t learn anything today” or “No one was friendly to me” or “I was offended” or “The Church is not filling my needs.” Such self-centered declarations, like selfishness, retard spiritual growth.
Even faithful LDS members can sucumb to self-centeredness if they do things for the wrong reason. If they live the gospel and commandments of God with the goal in mind to score points in heaven or receive blessings in this life, they are doing it for self-centered reasons. Rather our attitude and actions should be solely for the purpose of serving others out of love for them and showing our love for God by obedience to His commandments.