Self-Love vs. Self-Care: How to fall in love with yourself.

Self-Love vs. Self-Care: How to fall in love with yourself.

Self-Love vs. Self-Care: How to fall in love with yourself.

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day alone, with friends, or with a partner this year, we could all use a little more self-love. So often loving ourselves is viewed as a negative thing that makes us egotistical or self-centered, but the truth is it’s anything but.

So, what is self-love?

At its core, self-love is an understanding and acceptance of who we are. Self-love doesn’t mean we’re boastful or self-important, but rather it means we show ourselves compassion and accept who we are at every stage of life. We’re all flawed in our own ways, but with self-love, we know that even through our highest highs and lowest lows we are worthy of good things like love, happiness, and peace.

How is self-love different than self-care?

By now you may be wondering, isn’t that the same thing as self-care? Oftentimes, self-love and self-care are conflated. Not only do they sound alike (making for easy mix-ups), but, while different, self-love and self-care are pretty intertwined.

Self-love is a feeling, self-care is an act. Both exist on their own, but they’re best when used together. We can think of self-care as a building block of self-love. It involves taking care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Self-care can be as basic as brushing your hair in the morning to something a bit more invested like taking an art class to nurture your creative side or taking a bubble bath to soothe yourself after a long day. To practice self-love and ease chronic stress, it can be easy to start with self-care actions for a healthy emotional state.

When we live in a constant state of self-love, we’re more likely to indulge in the acts of self-care that make us feel our best. We feel that we’re deserving of bubble baths, alone time, great takeout, or whatever it is that makes us feel like ourselves. Similarly, acts of self-care can help us strengthen our self-love. When we take care of ourselves and do the work to be our best selves, our emotions and beliefs follow suit. We value ourselves more and truly believe we’re deserving of more, ultimately bringing us to true self-love.

When we nurture our mental, physical, and emotional health, we bring ourselves closer to true self-love. For example, you may notice how much more energized you feel after taking some time to yourself. As you lean into feeling like the best version of yourself, you’re reminded of your worth and that you deserve to feel this good.

So, how do I fall in love with myself?

While self-love may seem easy, it’s hard for most of us to show ourselves love and compassion. But, with a little work and some TLC, we can get there. Here are some of our favorite ways to start falling in love with yourself.

1. Be kind to yourself

So many of us are so hard on ourselves. Whether it’s societal, familial, or just internal, most of us feel pressure to be perfect. Thus, when we fall short, we feel like we’ve failed. Really, we’re all just human, and we have to give ourselves permission to mess up sometimes. So, the first step to falling in love with yourself is just that: be nicer to yourself! A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Sometimes we fault ourselves for more than just those times we fall short, but for the parts of our personality we just don’t love. To learn to love ourselves we have to accept that we all have flaws.

The following exercise is a quick way to bolster your self-acceptance:

1. Write down all of your strengths. This can include the qualities you love about yourself as well as the ones your friends and family admire about you.

2. When you’re going through a hard time or feeling particularly down on yourself, refer back to this list. Remind yourself that even through your flaws there is so much to love about yourself and be proud of.

2. Stop the negative self-talk

Negative self-talk is destructive to our confidence, judgement, and outlook on life and can leave us feeling overwhelmed. It makes us pessimistic, can leave us feeling like we’re not worthy, and ultimately becomes self-defeating. Positive self-talk, on the other hand, can not make us more optimistic but can help decrease stress and improve physical well-being, among other benefits.

It’s unrealistic to assume you’re just going to be able to stop the negative self-talk cold turkey, but there are two great tips to get you started. First, is detach yourself from your negative thoughts. For example, motivational speaker Brené Brown refers to the negative voices in her head as “gremlins”.

Second, it’s time to change the narrative. When the negative self-talk comes out, flip the script and turn those thoughts into positive ones. Instead of saying “I bombed that presentation. I’m so stupid!” say “I tried my best, but I know I can do do better next time. You’ll be surprised at how much your confidence can grow when you give yourself a little more compassion.

3. Practice self-care

Yep, as we already know they’re different, but caring for yourself is a big part of loving yourself. After all, would you want someone you love feeling stressed, depleted, or like they don’t have any time for themselves to do those little things they love? So, why would you want that for yourself?

Stress affects our mental health and can lead to negative emotions. Lessen the effects of stress by putting yourself first and utilizing self-care to increase positive types of emotion.

We all should find time to do things that make us feel our best. Maybe it’s developing a healthy eating routine or setting aside time to go on a walk every day. Maybe it’s just taking care of your basic needs and making sure you’re well-fed, well-rested, and healthy each and every day. Whatever it means for you, when you truly care for yourself, you’re in the best state to love yourself.

Self-love looks different for everyone. What helps me build confidence and trust in myself may not work for someone else and vice-versa. But, regardless of what works for you, we could all take a little more time to show ourselves some gratitude. How will you show yourself self-love this V-day?

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