I am afraid we are all born rather egocentric. We are the only reference point that we have, at least initially. “It’s all about me, and why shouldn’t it be?” If Mom and Dad mirror us well, we soon develop “mirror neurons” for empathy and relationship with others, but even other people can still be seen as mere means to my own power and pleasure. Or I can think I deserve everything, which we call a sense of entitlement.
Unless there is some pressure, social or parental, pushing the infant beyond the pleasure principle, human nature tends to largely take the path of least resistance. We really do need prods, goads, ideals to help us think outside of the little boxes we all create for ourselves. That is the function of laws and commandments. Only in the more mature person can love and grace take over—or even be understood.
—from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent
by Richard Rohr, OFM