The development of Humankind up to this point has been to enhance the separateness of the individuality, and selfishness is part of this. The mission of alcohol played its part too.
In ancient times we experienced our "I" most naturally in all that was around us- the spiritual world as well. The mystic sought to regain some of this consciousness - "I am this world". This was the old tribal consciousness which still persists in some of our Australian Aboriginals.
This sense of individuality has left us with a loneliness, which is very apparent today.
The development of this separate "I" will not end here, but in a voluntary co-operative society in the future- known as the Sixth Race, or
"For selfless deeds are the real foundations of immortality: this is the reflex of selfless deeds in the outer world."
Another paradox- we only get to keep what we give away.
"To do something for the higher self is not selfish because it is not done only for the self. The higher self will be united with all other higher selves, so that is done for all at the same time."
"A tiny handful of men will save themselves and pass over to the Sixth Epoch. This tiny handful will have developed complete selflessness."
Compassion for self is a caring for oneself, it is not egotism. So many times today we hear of people hating themselves and sometimes led to suicide because of that hate. Compassion for self is right and correct, so is a strong I AM or ego-identity. Conceit is a different matter.
Vanity gives us a false view of ourselves in our relationship to the world.
Our true enduring self is our Higher Self. Our personality will perish at the end of this life.
*All quotes Rudolf Steiner