We often hear about the importance of practicing self-care in order to enhance or improve our well-being. While self-care is extremely important, it’s critical to understand how it differs from self-love. Ultimately, to be whole as people, we need both.
When we practice self-care, we’re likely taking care of ourselves by doing specific things. That might include activities like exercising, getting a massage, taking a nap, eating healthy foods, getting together with friends, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, reading a good book and more. These are all really important ways to prioritize our needs, our health and our happiness at a high level. We should absolutely make the time to do these things on a regular basis, especially if we lead busy lives that involve not only tending to our careers or volunteer work, but also taking care of others in our family.
However, if we don’t truly love ourselves unconditionally from the inside out, these activities won’t allow us to fully feel at peace with ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Self-care, in and of itself, may provide a temporary sense of happiness and wellness in the short term, but we need to have a deep sense of self-love in order to have true joy, happiness and peace in our lives in the long term.
Self-love isn’t always easy to obtain and can often be dependent on or influenced by life circumstances, past events, personality traits, family dynamics and other natural tendencies. It may take years to truly feel a sense of self-love, but the more we can prioritize it and practice it, the better. This could come through regular self-reflection, journaling, practicing mindfulness, talking to family, close friends and possibly even a professional. It can also come from reminding ourselves every day of our positive traits and being empathetic towards ourselves for our negative ones.
Different life situations can also test our self-love, but staying authentically true to who we are, loving and believing in ourselves, having confidence in our abilities, having self-respect and not allowing self-doubt to take over, are all ways to allow our self-love to still shine through, even in the toughest of situations.
Remember that we’re all human and we can often be our biggest critics. However, the more we can practice self-love each day and couple it with ongoing self-care as well, the more we can create long-lasting love, happiness, peace and empowerment in our lives!