What is Self-Love?
Updated: Jan 28
And how is it different to Self-Care?
In this Post we explore the sister-sister relationship between self-love and self-care and I share a lil' self-love-witchy-story. We learn what self-love is + isn't, what self-love feels like, and top tips for developing your own sense of self-love.
regard for one's own well-being and happiness.
Self-love is important to living well, happy + healthy. It influences who you choose to spend time with, who you pick for a partner, the image you project at work, and how you cope with challenges in life.
Self-love and self-care are sisters, not singular. And while these two have a lot in common and might look similar on the surface, in reality (like most sisters!), they’re actually very different.
I like to think of Self-love as the ‘Big Sister’ and self-care as the ‘Little Sister’. We can learn a lot from our big sister; attitudes, perspectives + philosophies that will help us grow.
In this way, self-care borrows from self-love, to foster a healthy state of mind.
A lil’ Self-Love-Witchy-Story:
The biggest point I want to stress in this post, is that: Self-love is not something you do, it’s something you feel. And like all feelings, we are in constant flow. I read about self-love, practiced methods I found in books + articles, and still inside me tied deep was the feeling of self-loathe. I reached a point where I simply decided I was sick of never loving myself, feeling good enough, pretty enough, fit enough - you get the point.
Self-love is not something you do, it’s something you feel
One night, in my first pokey little one-bedroom flat, on a new moon (obviously), I decided to cast a self-love-spell: on myself, for myself. This was the first time I ever truly faced my self-loathing attitudes; a definite milestone in my self-love journey. From this point onwards, self-care became a massive part of my life. I started Yoga. I started Meditation. I started to practice loving myself. And then one day, I just got it. My mindset shifted.
You are Enough
You don’t need to cast a self-love spell, nor do you need to come from a state of self-loathe. Your journey is yours, but you must keep travelling. Read. Talk to people. Learn. Try new things. Discover. Keep searching, and one day you will just get it too. I encourage you to find + try out my tips below. Equally, find the further reading section - and find things on your own. This is your journey.
Anyone who practices Yoga will know, you try for months to nail that one pose that seems impossible. And then one day you just do it without trying - and you’re ecstatic! You want to keep practicing and practicing... From that moment on, you remember how to do this pose. But occasionally, you will lose your balance and fall. Sometimes your body will be stiff and inflexible. But you have a memory of what it feels like to be in the pose – and you know you have the ability within you to do it again.
What isn’t self-love
Self-love isn't conditional
It’s easy to mistake self-love for self-like. When you lose a few pounds or get your hair done, you like how you look - and you like yourself. When you achieve a big accomplishment – you like yourself. When you help someone – you like yourself.
But what when the opposite happens?
If you put on a few pounds, do you still look in the mirror with the love? Do you love yourself with messy hair and blemished skin? You see where this is going… What we often mistake for self-love is a conditional liking of the person we are.
What is self-love?
Unlike this ‘conditional-liking’ self-love is free of judgement. It is free of punishment and reward. It is free of conditions. In essence, self-love is self-acceptance.
Self-love is self-acceptance
Self-love reflects the same type of unconditional love you might feel for partner, your family, your best friend, cat or dog: a true unconditional feeling of love, appreciation and acceptance for yourself.
What does unconditional love mean?
Unconditional love is without any limitations or conditions. You might not like your bad habits, but you still love yourself - and that’s the key. You are not your habits, you are not a body part, you are you.
'self-love is self-acceptance, self-love is self-acceptance, self-love is self-acceptance...'
Say it 100 times over if you have to. You are who you are, you are exactly who you’re meant to be, right now in this moment, and you are fine just as you are.
Self-love is accepting and embracing who you are. You don’t have to love everything about yourself to feel a sense of self-love. If you don’t like something about yourself, you can change it, or change your relationship with it. Again, self-love has no concepts of conditions.
What does Self-Love Feel like
Okay, so we can’t buy self-love, and we can’t just 'do' self-love either. Practicing self-care is absolutely important for feeling a sense of self-love, and for many reasons, but self-love isn’t just a flick of a switch, or a pour of a bath.
When you feel a sense of self-love, you find yourself in a state of self-appreciation. This grows from acts of self-care, from actions that support our physical, psychological + spiritual growth.
When we practice self-care, we expand our self-love potential and begin to accept our weaknesses + strengths with greater ease. We recognise that just like everyone else, we are human too. We feel compassion for ourselves; we have less need to explain ourselves.
Handle with Care’s Top Self-love Tips:
1. Speak kindly to yourself.
This is about tuning into your inner-voice, and listening to how you are speaking to yourself. Are you speaking with unconditional love? Imagine yourself when you were a child, would you speak to that version of yourself in the same way?
2. Forgive yourself.
We are so hard on ourselves. Punishing ourselves for ‘mistakes’ comes all too easy, because so many of us strive for ‘perfection’ be it in work, in relationships, or in the mirror. Reminding yourself of your humanness is the first step in self-forgiveness. Shake hands with yourself and make friends. Remember: there are no failures, only lessons; you’re growing.
3. Accept your likes + dislikes.
Remind yourself that you are not your body, and accept that fact. You have a belly, but you are not your belly. You have beautiful eyes, but you are not your beautiful eyes. You pick your skin, but you are your skin-picking habit. Accept what you like and dislike, accept yourself as the human that you are.
4. Upgrade your Emotional Intelligence.
Tune into your feelings and get to know them. When you become mindful of your emotions, you can act on this knowledge, rather than on the influence of others. This will mean acting on what you need rather than what you want. So, you might turn away from automatic behaviour patterns that negatively impact your mental health. Read more.
5. Handle Yourself with Care.
Through practicing good self care you will organically garner a greater sense of self-love. Because when you take better care of yourself and nourish your body + mind through healthy activities, you are nurturing your best-self. And your best-self will always seek self-love. Read more.
A Self-Love Spell
If you read the above lil’ Self-Love-Witchy-Story and want to know everything about my Self-Love Spell, do the following to receive some magic in your mailbox:
1. Subscribe to the Handle with Care Blog
2. Email: email@example.com with title: I love myself because and tell me 1 thing you love about yourself + why
3. Expect a deeper insight into my story and all the details on that self-love spell
✨ (within 48hrs!)
Happy Mo[o]nday Folks
Remember, Self-love is not something you do, it’s something you feel,
and always, always
-Handle with Care
My Top Recommended Book for Self-Love as a Woman:
Pussy by Regena Thomashauer
The F Word - HWC
Self Care 101 - HWC
10 Wonderful Ways To Practice Self-Love - Mind Body Green
What Self-Love Means: 20+ Ways to Be Good to Yourself - Tiny Buddha
What is Self-Love | The Importance of Self Love - Growing Self
What does “self-love” really mean - Brave Belle
A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love - Psychology Today