The foundational principle in contact improvisation is selfishness. Here I am thinking of being selfish (concerned chiefly with personal pleasure) as being different from egotistical (excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself). As I come into contact with another body, it is tempting to enter into the mindset of being responsible for the other person. It seems more loving to focus on the other person's needs. Is this too much weight for her/him? Am I doing a good job, being what I am supposed be, doing what I am supposed to do to ensure he/she has the great experience I want him/her to have? Am I giving enough support? The result of being completely concerned with another person's well-being is a state of paranoia and doubt because I can never really know if I am succeeding. And if there is a mistake? Whose fault is it?
However, if I enter into a partnership with my own selfish pleasure in mind. If I make the parameters of my dance my own physical safety, balance, and support. If I focus on taking what I need in the moment to propel my body through space. If I give the other person the space to do the same and trust that he will take care of his body. Then something magical can happen. There are no mistakes, there are just interpretations, articulations, playful accidents.
This of course is a metaphor for life, for relationships, and it all points back to the practice of self-love. Self-love as a practice to me means to continually return to the awareness of wholeness within oneself. I don't need to do or undo anything in order to become more or less than what I am right now, and what I am right now is completely perfect as it is. The more I practice seeing myself in this way, the more I can see others around me as the perfected beings that they are. In a more practical setting this points to the question "What brings me more pleasure?" It is always more pleasurable to feel good about myself, to feel happy for others, to be surrounded by love, to be supported and to support another, to be successful, to thrive and to see others around me thrive.
Being selfish is what allows me to be more supportive to others in my life. By putting myself first and trusting others to do the same, I can actually be more effective. I can be clearer about my desires and needs and be more respectful towards the needs of others. I can know when to say yes and offer more support, and when to pull back and ask for space. The more selfish I am, the more pleasure I seek, the more self-love I practice, the more I create that for others.