[T]he tenderness which we have for our own selves is a great hindrance to us in the path of perfection.
To understand this, we must remember that there are in us two sorts of love; the affective love, and the effective love. ... [A] father ... has two sons, one of whom is yet a child, but amiable and of good promise; and the other is a grown man, brave and generous. The father greatly loves these two sons, but with a different kind of love; for he loves the one who is still a child with a love extremely tender and affective; he caresses him, he kisses him, he holds him on his knees and in his arms with an incomparable sweetness, as well for himself as for the child; suppose this child has been stung by a bee, the father never ceases to soothe him until the pain is abated. If his eldest son had been stung by a hundred bees, he would not deign to turn his head round, although he loves him with a love mightily strong and solid.
Consider, I pray you, the difference of these two loves. For although you have seen the tenderness of this father for his little one, he nevertheless does not give up forming the intention of sending him away from the house, destining his eldest son to be his heir and the successor to his property. The latter, therefore, is loved with an effective love, and the former with an affective love. Both the one and the other are loved, but in a different way.
The love which we have for ourselves is, in like manner, either effective or affective. Effective love is that which stirs and drives to action those who are ambitious of honors and riches, who never say, "this is enough." Affective love applies to those who are very tender over themselves, who do nothing but complain, and who are so afraid of anything hurting them, that it is lamentable to observe them. If they are sick, though perhaps it is but the tip of their finger that aches, nobody suffers so much as they do, or is so miserable; no sickness is to be compared to that which they suffer, and one cannot find physicians enough to attend to them. They never cease attending to themselves, and while they think to preserve their health, they lose and ruin it entirely. If others are sick, it is nothing, it is only themselves who have a right to complain, and they weep tenderly over themselves, to move others to compassion; they do not care whether we think them patient or not, provided we think them sick and afflicted.
This feebleness is much more insufferable in spiritual than in bodily things; and nevertheless it is unfortunately most indulged in by spiritual persons, who would be saints all at once, without choosing to be at the expense even of the sufferings caused by those conflicts which the inferior part of the soul sustains from things painful to nature; however, whether we choose it or not, we must needs have the courage to suffer, in resisting these efforts all the days of our life, unless we wish to renounce the perfection which we have undertaken.
Saint Francis de Sales
Les Entretiens (Conferences at the Visitation of Annecy)