self love vs. self care: is there a difference?

Self-love was something that I thought I had nailed at a young age. I always treated myself well, always loved things of good quality and thought I deserved the best. Why should I deprive myself of what I wanted? I thought part of it came from having a mother who is a minimalist. She always said how she would rather have less but what she did have, she wanted it to be of good quality. I wanted both. Lots of things of good quality. I also always had respect for my body and was never interested in polluting it (as I saw it) with drugs, smoking or alcohol and got pleasure out of eating well. That’s self-love, isn’t it?

A friend of mine recently said something that made the distinction between self-love and self-care crystal clear to me. He made a comment that he actually took time out of his busy day to stop and get some food in between activities where he’d normally just keep going till he was famished and grabbed whatever was around. He actually said “I practiced some self-care today”. I thought about it and it hit me, yes! THAT’S it! That’s self-care, which is entirely different than self-love. Let me explain.

Self care is taking care of your needs; listening to your body and resting when you are tired instead of pushing yourself, eating when you are hungry instead of waiting till you are famished, talking a sick day when you are achy and stuffed up. It‘s the way a parent would take care of a child by attending to their needs.

Self-love, on the other-hand is expressed in a different way. Self-love consists of your self-talk and how you treat yourself when you mess up. It’s being conscious of the times when you say, “Damn, I’m such an idiot” or “I don’t deserve him/her”. Self-love, just like the love for a child, a pet or a spouse is unconditional love. It’s honoring your desire to have a quiet night in instead of going out with the girls. It’s the understanding that others can only treat you as good as you treat yourself and if like attracts like (as we know it does) then how can someone love you if you are sending out the vibration that you are not good enough or that you are not worthy? Or if you do attract someone, how will they treat you? They will most likely treat you how you treat yourself, which will then give you the validation that you are not worthy. See where I am going here? Self love has nothing to do with what you do, how much money you make, who your friends are or what your zip code is. Self-love is honoring the uniqueness that is you that you are perfect just the way you are and that you are more powerful than you ever dreamed possible. Self-love has nothing to do with thinking you are better than anyone else or that you care more about yourself and your welfare than you do for others.

Self love is seeing the best in you and appreciating all that you are. It’s speaking to and about yourself as if you were speaking about your best friend. It’s coming from a place of kindness instead of criticism. It’s finding your “flaws” endearing. Self-love is the basis for self-care. When you see yourself as the divine, magnificent being that you are, it’s becomes much easier to practice self-care. How does one get started on the road to self-love? Listen to the way you speak about yourself. Is it loving? Respectful? Does it make you feel good? Self-love feels great which in turn raises your vibration so that you are attracting more love in your life. Pay attention to how others treat you and what you will tolerate in others.

A wonderful loving practice is to make a list each day (mental or written) of five things you are grateful for or appreciate about yourself. Even if you end up repeating yourself, you are reinforcing and affirming the vibration of I am loved and deserving of love. It all starts with you.

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