Self-love vs self-care
Self-love vs self-care
By Polly Perry, Earth Star Kinesiology
Self-love and self-care are two terms that are all over social media, especially alongside pictures of relaxed people doing amazing things like having a massage or curled up on a chair with a hot cup of something and a good book. But do you know the difference between self-care and self-love? Or that there actually was a difference?
There is an overlap between the two. Self-care is an act of self-love, but self-love needs to come first. If we’re going through the motions of caring for ourselves without really feeling complete love for ourselves, total self-acceptance for who we truly are, then all the baths, massages, meditation, lie-ins and smoothies aren’t going to help you truly love your whole self.
Self-care is a great way to reinforce the message of self-love. For example, healthy eating tells your body you care enough to feed it well. Exercise, whatever type you choose, shows you care enough to move your body so it and you stay as well and as fit as possible. Those massages tell your body you care enough to de-stress it, aiding relaxation and detoxification, which again keep you healthy and well. Time spent on you, for you, with no feelings of guilt about ignoring your to-do list is valuable, nourishing and scores top marks on the self-care test.
Self-love, on the other hand, is when you genuinely accept and love all of who you are, as you are in this moment. It’s about you being the greatest love of your life. There’s no I love myself, but… It’s truly loving yourself without that little voice in the back your mind that shows up when you’re feeling less than great. It’s the voice that tells us we aren’t good enough, we aren’t thin enough, rich enough, popular enough… That voice means we’re not completely accepting and approving of ourselves in that moment and that we believe something, or someone, one can make us ‘better’, more whole, more worthy.
Happiness does not come from the outside. Happiness is an inside job, and although acts of self-care will get you some of the way on the path to true happiness (think of self-care as being the nurturing, supportive gift wrap surrounding the present inside), self-acceptance and self-love are the deal breakers, and if you don’t have these, you need to look inside and dig deep.
You don’t have to do or achieve anything, prove anything to anyone to be worthy of love. Love comes with no conditions. If you truly don’t love yourself, if you have no love to give to yourself, then how are you able to truly love anyone else? By blocking the love for ourselves, we’re unintentionally blocking love we could be giving to others and therefore all the love we could be receiving in return because we don’t believe that we’re worthy of loving. So it all comes back to believing that we’re worthy of love.
Self-love is a daily practice. It’s about recognising the moments when we’re stepping out of self-love and being able to see what’s happening, see the triggers, see the patterns and then make positive changes. For example, there may be a person, a friend, colleague or family member, who really gets under your skin, really triggers you in some way. Before you know it you’re taking their words to heart, believing what they’re saying about you, questioning yourself just because they don’t like you, didn’t like the way you said something or don’t agree with your choices, and you find yourself changing to make them feel better or so they like you more.
But here’s where self-love comes in. If you truly love yourself, then what others think of you is none of your business. No external person, act or event should be able to rock your inner foundations of self-love. Of course, people, events and circumstances can affect your energy. We’re exchanging energy with people and places all the time. But the key is that these situations don’t lead you to question your self-worth. If you have total self-acceptance and self-love, then you aren’t as reactive to external forces, there is no comparison of he’s got more of this or she’s better than me at that, you’re simply observing.
Be kind to yourself. This is so important. We’re all human, we’re all going to have moments when we step into the drama, get triggered, say and do things we may later regret. With self-awareness, you’re able to ask yourself the questions “Why am I feeling like this? What is my reason for making this choice?”. You are able to take a step back and connect in to heart space so you don’t respond from ‘reactive mode’. By coming out of a flight or fight response (reactive) and sitting in observation (awareness), you are able to get perspective on the situation and make a choice from love rather than fear.
It does come with practice. Self-love ebbs and flows, but the more we work on it, the quicker we can get back there if we fall out of connection. And if you are out of alignment then look within because it’s probably a clue that something somewhere is stuck and stopping you from completely loving yourself again.
>>> So what are the ways we can practise self-love?
What are the things we can do for ourselves to help us to truly love and accept who we are beyond the acts of self-care?
The first thing to do if you don’t love yourself is to admit this to yourself. This simple admission can be extremely hard, especially if you’ve been papering over the cracks with acts of self-care, telling yourself that they’re acts of self-love. I must love myself because I make time to do something for myself everyday. Well, not necessarily. To move forward, to make progress you need to be totally honest with yourself. Do you truly accept who you are? Do you completely approve of yourself? Is your life full of shoulds? I should work harder/have more money/be more successful/be married/have children/be thinner/go to the gym more/start yoga/eat healthier... Are you shoulding all over yourself? Because if you are, there’s not much self-love or self-acceptance right there. We’re telling ourselves we’re not enough, that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed. So recognising this is a big first step.
It’s worth noting for those with a mental health illness or other more serious physical and mental issues, that although these steps would be helpful, it’s important to seek help and support from an appropriate, qualified practitioner.
The second very powerful step is mirror work. Louise Hay was a big advocate of mirror work and has a program and book called Mirror Work 21 Days to Heal Your Life. You look into a mirror, and I don’t mean a quick glance, you really look into your eyes and repeat positive affirmations to yourself, either from a book or it could be something as simple as saying “I love you”.
Some people find just looking at themselves in a mirror to be incredibly uncomfortable or confronting, and it may take time to work up to staying at the mirror long enough to say the affirmations. Start small, start where you need to, observe how it makes you feel and where you’re feeling it. Is there a part of your body that suddenly feels pain or contraction? What emotions come up? Does it bring back memories of any particular person or experience? If it does, sit with these, acknowledge and observe them rather than pushing them back inside. Place your hands on the areas of pain and emotion; show your body that you’re listening. Chances are they’ll fade and the feelings will gently pass. If you struggle to say “I love you”, start with something less confronting and work up to it, like “I’m willing and ready to like you”, or “I’m willing and ready to learn how to love you”.
Another great tool to help you is kinesiology, which is an incredibly effective modality that can help you uncover emotional stories and experiences or limiting beliefs or rules that you’re subconsciously living by that are creating blocks to self-love. By identifying those blocks, whether they are yours or someone else’s, they can then be released, empowering you to take a more positive and proactive perspective.
It also gives you the opportunity to work through what or who may be holding you back, and where your fears lie. Sometimes fear can have such a controlling effect that the mind and the heart become disconnected. Choosing to do the work, to be open and vulnerable can be the bravest and most powerful steps you take on your journey, and kinesiology is a safe, gentle and supportive way to empower you to reconnect with yourself.
Once you’re in a place of self-love you can deepen this connection with acts of self-care. This then fills your cup so much that it’s spilling over, and you have enough from this overflow of love to give to others, never depleting your own supply. Self-love is a daily commitment, a work in progress, but vital for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Polly specialises in Neuroenergetic Kinesiology (NK), which brings together the western knowledge of anatomy and physiology with the eastern energetic and spiritual systems in a unique finger mode and acupressure formatting system. This system follows the anatomical, physiological and energetic pathways to identify the location and type of stress and what is needed to release it, thereby optimising the body’s natural healing ability. To find out more about what she does and how she can help, see earthstarkinesiology.com
Polly is also part of the Nourish Melbourne Community. If you're a Nourish Melbourne Member you save 20% off your first Kinesiology session with Polly, and 10% off all sessions thereafter. Click here to find out more. If you're not a Nourish Melbourne Member and want to know how you can save $1000s on your health and wellness and access an expanding collective of respected wellness businesses, click here.