Self, Selfless, Self Accepting

Selfish, Selfless and Self Accepting

Self, Selfless, Self AcceptingSelfish: Meeting your needs at the expense of another’s ability to meet their needs.

Selfless: Meeting another’s needs at the expense of your own needs

and then there is Self Accepting.

Self acceptance means different things to different people but it’s primarily seen as awareness and acceptance of your strengths, weaknesses and behaviours. Dr Glasser never really addressed self-acceptance. If he had it would probably have gone something like this:  Accepting your needs and the behaviours you choose to meet those needs, as being the best you can do with the information and abilities you have.

Jeff Developed a Slightly Different use of the Term – Self Accepting

This was to support clients who were having difficulty understanding where the boundaries between selfishness and selflessness might be. Often they were choosing selflessness and did not want to change their behaviour for fear they would become selfish. Jeff introduced the concept of self-accepting as a way of operating that is neither selfish or selfless, and is sustainable.

I’ve taken the work Jeff did on this straight from our Choice Practice Institute site because it explains the concept better than I could.

Over to Jeff…


A Selfish person cares too much about their own needs and not enough about the needs of the other, this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care at all, just that they put their needs first at the expense of the other. They expect others will cooperate in meeting their needs and demand that they do so. As they demand more and more they tend to value what they get, less and less. They may become resentful and angry when they believe their needs are not being met, and usually become even more demanding. They often end up with selfless people in their lives, because they wont accept those who insist on their needs being met too!


A Selfless person cares too much for the needs of the other and not enough about their own needs, this doesn’t mean they don’t care about their own needs at all, just that they prioritise the needs of the other above their own on most occasions. They hope that others will meet their needs and wait for them to do so. They wait…. and they wait,…. then become unhappy and maybe resentful or angry when their needs are not met over time. If they resort to doing something selfish to try to meet their needs, they will usually feel guilty and often try to make up for their selfish behaviour. They often end up with selfish people in their lives , because by giving too much, others begin to accept that they don’t have needs of their own and give up trying to be fair to them.

Self Accepting 

The Self Accepting person cares equally about their own needs and the needs of the other.  They accept responsibility for meeting their own needs and leave the responsibility for others needs with them. They know that if they are unhappy, it is their job to identify which needs are not being met and make changes to better meet them.

They also know if others are unhappy it is up to those others to take responsibility for meeting their own needs and change what they are doing. They co-operate with the other in creating an environment where both parties needs can be met fairly, but not at the expense of their own needs or the needs of the other.

Self accepting people will usually have other self accepting people in their lives, because they always insist on fairness in meeting their own needs and the needs of others, those who continue to be selfish or selfless will find that behaviour is not working with a self accepting person. (ref: Jeff Steedman)

But What about the Kids?

Parents can find navigating this course especially difficult. They may be able to apply the concept to their friends and adult family members but see themselves responsible for meeting the needs of their children.

Be Your Best Self

Obviously when children are very young this is true, especially in terms of physical needs. As children grow however, using this concept is an excellent way of making sure everyone in a family is able to meet their needs effectively. Being a selfless parent is not going to produce a child that is resilient and capable of meeting their own needs as an adult.




This is a big topic, far bigger than I could ever hope to cover in a blog post. It is covered it more detail in our online course. You can check that out here.

We are in the process of creating a new course called Be Your Best Self With Choice Theory. I have already started an email list of interested people who will have an opportunity to input ideas about what is covered in the course and receive pre-launch information. If you would like to be part of that group leave your details here.

Thanks for reading, and as always please pay it forward by leaving  a comment to ask questions, help others, help us to provide relevant content and help Google to find us.

Kindest Regards

Deb 🌻

How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively
Become Self-Accepting


  1. Wow, this is a good post worth every word in it. I must say that you seem to be a very intelligent person which makes me admire you even more. I like this post and I love what I read here as well about  selfish,selfless and self accepting. It looks like self acceptance is something I between there and understanding what we want and juxtaposing with what others around is want. It’s nice to read this.

    1. Thanks Payton, for your very kind comment. 

  2. Hello Deb and Jeff, first of all, I would like to say that your profile photos on your website are so lovely. 
    I am so glad I came across your article. To be honest, I have never thought about Self Acceptance as part of the trio you wrote about. Somehow I never thought that selfless means not caring about yourself, as you care too much about others. I thought that selfless means just not being selfish. I actually believed that being selfless means what you actually refer as Self Acceptance 🙂 

    Self Acceptance came to me together with a Self Love and when I learned that I became more compassionate towards others as well, including animals which naturally brought me to quitting animals as my choice of food. 

    This was a great read. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. 


    1. Thanks Sunny 🙂 I appreciate it. Yes the definitions here are for the specific purpose of figuring out how to meet your needs in a fair way and how to navigate the pressure to meet other peoples’ without losing yourself/

  3. I can’t write a good comment about this as it is going to take a lot of time to read all the stuff on this site. It is extremely interesting and is a subject you are drawn into, wanting to know more and understand. There is one thing about the page above and that is the picture, at first, I was looking thinking why are two people sitting on the toilet in the bathroom. plus, why is there a pic of that on here, what is the relevance?

    1. Hmm, thanks for your comment. I might change the image but it’s quite difficult to find one showing selfishness etc. It’s meant to represent conflict, two people back to back. I hope you do read some more info on the site and please feel free to keep giving feedback 🙂

  4. This is an awesome article on how to have a healthy relationship to your partner. the simple tips such as putting the needs of the other than your wants will help to strengthen the relationship of both partners.

    When under the domestic violence don’t be afraid to seek help to authorities, friend and relatives because you deserve to be loved and protected. 

    The thing is, the one that you can control is yourself and not the other partner. There are two thing that you can control, the external and the internal one. You have thought that it is external where you try to change your partner but the truth is the way you will change yourself or adjust to your partner in order to maintain a good relationship.

    1. Thanks Analyn, very true 😉

  5. Hi Deb & Jeff,

    An exciting post; The topic being ‘Selfish’, ‘Selfless’, and ‘Self Accepting’; I learnt something from reading the article; The difference between ‘Selfish’ and ‘Selfless’; I realise from what I have read; I have been Selfless most of my life. My problem; Is that; (My experience) I have been too trusting of people; Who ended up hurting my feelings. I hate myself for it. (To tell the truth!)
    I know I may come across like doom and gloom; However, I would never change; I love the person I am. (Like ‘Daria’! She believes the problem is with everyone else. (Not me?)

    1. You sound a bit confused Joe, how can you love the person you are and yet hate yourself for being “too trusting”?

  6. Thank you very much for this article. During a real emergency, you’d be able to help a lot more people while
     still breathing rather than having passed out from smoke inhalation
     first. The same could be said for daily life. When you spend time
     filling yourself up with the joy of things that matter to you, then you
     have more than enough love and joy to give to everyone else.

  7. Many thanks for talking some sense! This is really I hope everybody gets the point youre trying to make here. I had no clue on some of the things you mentioned earlier, thanks!

  8. It isn’t often that you come across a article like this one. We’ll be sure to check back in to see what’s changed. Thank you for taking the initiative to write that article.

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