Self-love and self-care are two distinct but interconnected concepts that are essential to personal growth and well-being. However, self-love goes deeper than self-care practices, referring to a consistent loving relationship with your true and whole self.
Self-care is having a having moment, with social media posts and articles expounding on the virtues of hot baths, massages, and healthy habit building. While these are all positive actions, without deeper inner work to cultivate self-love, they can only scratch the surface. Self-care without self-love could look like getting a relaxing massage, but then checking your phone immediately afterwards and getting stressed. Or going to a yoga class while your mind is flooded with self-criticism about the limitations or perceived imperfections of your body. If self-care is a relaxing bubble bath, self-love is a deep sea of unconditional self-acceptance.
Self-care is the part of self-love that involves you taking care of you, as opposed to you taking care of others, or allowing others to take care of you. It’s about taking actions that to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health.
Examples of self care practices include exercise, nutrition, sleep, activities that promote rest, relaxation and positive self image, being in nature, and setting boundaries.
Self-love goes much deeper than self-care. Self-love means recognizing that you are worthy of love and respect in all areas of life. It’s about forgiving yourself for mistakes, making peace with your past, and accepting your weaknesses and strengths, so that you can love yourself unconditionally even in difficult times and cherishing the person you are becoming.
Components of the Self-Love Journey
1. Seek Truth
At the core of self-love is connection to inner truth. Most of us struggle with self-love because we are disconnected from our inner most being. We carry around beliefs about ourselves that are untrue. Coming into self-love always begins with questioning the ideas you have about yourself, discovering your deeper truth, and replacing old, false beliefs that hold you back with what is true and real, which will free you to live boldly and courageously.
2. Cultivate Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance is a critical aspect of self-love. When you begin turning inward and paying attention to the fluctuations of your emotions, you might start to see some pretty rough stuff. You start seeing your own history, and you might awaken to painful memories or identify harmful patterns. Being able to engage with yourself through a medium of acceptance makes deeper healing possible.
Practice: Therapy & Meditation
3. Quiet the Inner Critic
An essential step towards self-love is to improve our self-talk and quiet the inner critic that judges and condemns our actions and feelings. Imagine how you would speak to a friend who experiences failure or disappointment, with encouragement and compassion. Making friends with ourselves begins when we change that critical, mean inner voice to a warm, loving, expression of who we really are.
4. Feel Gratitude
Appreciation appreciates and so finding something to be grateful for every day is an essential step in our self-love growth. Having a gratitude practice has been scientifically proven to shift us to a positive perspective as well as impact us physically.
Practice: Gratitude Journal
5. Seek Connection Instead of Separation
Separation occurs when we compare ourselves to others. Everyone is suffering in some way from regrets, hurts, fears, and doubts. Human beings are flawed and the sooner we realize we may never reach our own tough standards for perfection, the sooner we can truly love ourselves as we are, flaws and all. Instead of separating ourselves from others through judgment and comparison, look for the bonds and similarities that connect us.
Practice: Social Media Cleanse
Bring It Home
Self-care can support the self-love journey, but it’s a physical manifestation of what’s going on underneath. Instead of practicing self-care to be worthy of self-love, when we have unshakable self-love, we recognize that we are worthy of true self-care. When we treat ourselves with loving kindness, this translates into how we treat others, and how we will allow ourselves to be treated. Self-love is the starting point for all love, and improving our relationship with self will grow our loving relationships with others.