Self-Care and Self-Love Differences

An Enthusiastic Proposal of Deceptively Singular Importance, painting of heart stone suspended by twine with a scroll and orange rose

Image used with permission from An Enthusiastic Proposal Of Deceptively Singular Importance by Paul Bond Fine Art

The Discovery of Self Love

For years I was quite indulgent in my cyclical self-care practices, believing that was the best way to replenish myself. Back then I was working an average of sixty hours a week. I would wake up thinking about work, plan my day in the shower, throw back a cup of coffee and race into the office by 7:30AM for my 12 hour day. This was the loop of my life.

On the weekends, to make up for the self-depletion I imbued on myself, I would spend most of my time deploying self-care strategies in an attempt to make up for draining my energy resources and life force. My weekends would consist of massage appointments, hair-cuts and colorings, pedicures, manicures, waxing, facials, the occasional body scrub, astrology readings, psychic readings and if I was really treating myself I’d go to a Hay House “I Can Do IT” conference. On the weekends I would take time to eat right and maybe get a little exercise. Further, I never considered doing any of these things during the busy work week. I considered all of this under the category of self-care. After all, these were the things I needed to do to simply restore and revive myself, boost my ego, temporarily feel good and make sure I looked fabulous come Monday morning. And for about twenty-five years, I honestly believed this was all I needed.

Self Love wasn’t even something that registered in my awareness.

Discovering I had breast cancer was the beginning of my journey of loving myself. To me, an obvious correlation to breast cancer is self-nurturing. The breast being the part of the body women use to nurture their children. At a deeper level, I also believe cancer is about an imbalance in the Spiritual and emotional levels. When these imbalances occur, the body suffers.

This experience caused me to reflect on the idea of self-nurturing and explore what this meant for me. I had never considered myself the nurturing type. I opted out on the kid thing and didn’t have a lot of patience for children in general. And because I’m empathic, I spent a lot of time protecting my heart and my feelings from deeply connecting with other people. Mostly because I didn’t know how to manage and regulate my feelings from what they were feeling. As a result, this protection also kept me from tuning into myself. It caused me to remain disconnected and distant. It prevented me from being anywhere near nurturing.

While this was unfolding in my consciousness, I was also aware that I was really hard on myself. I mean REALLY hard on myself. I was my own worst critic. Nothing was ever good enough and I was the first one to point out my flaws. This often came across in the form of sarcasm, putting myself down, calling out the fact that I was wrong. I was never acknowledging myself TO MYSELF for my gifts, talents and accomplishments. It was easy to point out the talents of others since I was frequently seeking outside approval from them, but that’s another post. When I really began examining what it meant to be nurturing I asked myself “what’s missing here?”

The answer was love. Self-love.

Through my journey into self over the past four years, I have come to know the difference between self-care and self-love. And make no mistake, there is a vital difference. Self-love includes self-care, but self-care alone only addresses the physical. Self-love is about inclusion of the whole person – mind, body and Spirit.

Self-love is about paying attention to your intuition and trusting yourself enough to take action on it. Self-love is letting “where you are now” be okay. Self-love is knowing that all the answers we seek are within us. Self-love is taking some time, every single day, to be quietly with yourself. Self-love is taking time every single day to acknowledge the infinite part of ourself that is connected to All That Is. Self-love is gentle discipline. Self-love is slowing down. It is about deeply connecting to yourself and to others. Self-love is listening to your body’s needs. Self-love is finding your voice and using it. Self-love is the revelation of your authentic self as a Divine Spiritual Being and having the awareness that you are here for a reason. Self-love is following your joy. It is about knowing you are guided and protected and that all of life is for learning. Self-love is believing in yourself. Self-love is standing in your truth when everyone else may be telling you that you’re crazy.

Self-love is listening to your feelings with an attitude of caring acceptance and compassion for yourself.

The path to self-love is not found in reading a blog post or by simply experiencing a life threatening illness. It’s about shifting your mind set, your belief systems as you expand along the journey. This can only happen through the unfolding and discovery of self. For your consideration, I invite you to begin self-love today. Go to a mirror. Take a long deep look in your own eyes. Say out loud, “I love you” and know that everything is going to be okay.

Learn the distinctions between Self-Love and Self-Care so you can empower your authentic self and live into your fullest potential. Click here for this free guide.