Unlike the self-improvement disciplines that can be self imposed, ones orientation is not a conscious choice. Humans who are distressed at what they deem self centered motives are most likely not on the road to becoming one in the Service-to-Self. These individuals never concern themselves with such thoughts. The focus is rather on how the world, not themselves, should change, and the change is always supposed to be one that betters the self-focused individual. In fact, conscious attempts to move oneself in the direction of Service-to-Other have a negative effect, as the focus is often put upon behavior that is assumed to be Service-to-Other but in fact is self serving. The key in orientation is the true motive behind behavior, not the stated motive or even the apparent motive.
Self-serving actions can be disguised as benevolent treatment of others, and often is. Many organized religions enforce rigid rules upon their membership under the guise of being helpful, staying away from temptation and the like. Free thinking is limited, and the opportunity to explore relationships with others is restricted, under the guise of helping the membership stay on the right track. Meanwhile the church collects dues, all under the guise of wanting to continue this beneficent guidance. In many human societies, children are taught almost since birth to be quiet and orderly and not assertive. Independent thought and open expression of ideas and emotions threaten the establishment, so are termed bad behavior. Thus, those humans who find themselves leaning toward what they have been taught is bad behavior assume they have a long way to go until they become Service-to-Other oriented..