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Getting Real About Self-Love and Self-Care

Self-love and self-care have become common health and wellness buzzwords in 2022. Despite their popularity, there is some confusion regarding what they actually mean and how you can (and should!) have both in your life.

At its simplest, purest form, self-love is the instinctual need to promote your own well-being. Self-love is a long-term process filled with ups and downs. On the other hand, self-care represents the strategies put into place to promote self-love. When you consider a loving relationship, we often find ways to show or give care to another person. These actions promote love. The same is true for self-love and care. If we want to experience more self-love, we have to get better at our self-care. This also means we have to decide what self-care actually means for us. Spoiler alert! There’s more involved than the occasional bubble bath.

Misconceptions About Self-Love

Before you can cultivate and experience true self-love, you need to know what it is … and what it isn’t. Below are are some popular misconceptions about self-love:

  1. It’s selfish. This is definitely false. Loving yourself paves the way for you to care for others on a deeper level and increases your ability to be compassionate and empathetic.

  2. It’s all about affirmations, yoga classes, and skin care routines. Although all of these things can be part of self-love (they all suggest you’re taking good care of yourself), they don’t actually define self-love. Self-love is much broader, asking you to know your whole self with compassion.

  3. It will make you complacent. This misconception stems from the idea that if you love yourself then you will have nothing to work toward or improve on. In all actuality, because self-love is all about knowing your true self, it helps you set and achieve goals that resonate with you. Self-love also helps keep your internal compass on track so you are more aware of actions that don’t align with your true self.

  4. It’s about being independent and self-sufficient. There is nothing wrong with independence or self-sufficiency. However, feeling like you need no one and can, or should, go it alone is less a sign of self-love and more often a sign of some unresolved trauma sneaking its way into your life and relationships.

Real self-love is about getting down with the real you. This journey requires zero resources to start. All you need is a compassionate curiosity regarding who you are, what you need, and what you want. Tools are often helpful on this self-love journey. These tools can be thought of as self-care.

Misconceptions About Self-Care

Just like with self-love, knowing what self-care is all about will empower you to make better choices. Below are some popular misconceptions about self-care:

  1. It’s all or nothing. There is a popular belief that if you don’t have a whole day to dedicate to a spa appointment, you’re not doing self-care. In reality, self-care is made up of tiny little moments where you put your needs and wants first. This can be as simple as taking a 3 minute meditation break during a rough day.

  2. It’s a luxury. Media often portrays self-care like an elitist sport. You have to have a 5 step skin-care routine, shopping sprees, expensive books , a vacation etc. to show that you’re really taking care of yourself. Remember self-care isn’t about the big, expensive things.

  3. It’s optional. This could be true if you like running yourself into the ground every single day. Since no one likes that though, self-care isn’t really an option.

  4. It’s something you earn. Many people view self-care as a reward for doing a good job at life or a consolation prize after a bad day. Consider this instead: taking care of yourself is one of those basic human rights. You automatically get to do it regardless of socioeconomic status, sexuality, race, religion, job status, good day, bad day, etc.

If self-love is knowing the real you, then self-care can be viewed as how that real you takes care of itself. It’s composed of very personal decisions, actions, and choices that empower you to show up healthier and happier in all aspects of your life. Sometimes this might actually be a bubble bath or a spa day. Sometimes it’s making (and keeping!) that doctor’s appointment you’ve been dreading, staying current on your medications, working out regularly, or even just reminding yourself to breathe during a stressful moment.

Final Thoughts

Self-love and self-care have become popular buzzwords for a good reason. They remind us that it’s vital to our well-being to know ourselves deeply and give ourselves care. Just remember that the portrayal of self-love and care in the media is often glamorized and there is still quite a bit of stigma to break down. In reality, self-love and care are all about little moments every day that can add up to something beautiful. The most important thing for both is consistency over perfection. Take time for yourself each day, even if only for a moment, and work steadily to understand the real you.

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