Having heard the terms self-care and self-love thrown around for the last decade and only recently really “getting it”, I assumed the revelations I’m about to share have always been obvious to everyone but me. After some recent conversations I realize that is just not so, so maybe my thoughts on this are worth sharing.
I used to think self-love and self-care were the same thing. Of course those who love themselves take good care of themselves, and vice-versa. But I don’t think I knew what either of them really were until recently, or what it meant if one of them was missing. I recently realized they are not the same thing, that lack of self-love can lead to lack of self-care,and even more empowering: that self-care can lead to self-love.
My experience with both came through happy accident. The first few weeks of quitting wine, I had to seek out other ways to ease my discomfort and anxiety. These things included hot baths, good sleep, clean sheets, healthy food, hot teas, massages, essential oils, pedicures, all the typical self-care rituals.
As I became more mindful of my likes and what helped make me feel more ‘at ease’, my self-care grew to include things that weren’t necessarily enjoyable, like doing the dishes and setting up my coffee before going to bed, paying my bills on time, cooking myself healthy meals, and doing my laundry before I ran out of clothes. I realized these were aspects of self-care we often overlook, because they don’t feel good in the moment. But we can’t deny that they are a way of caring for ourselves. I am always happy with the result.
After a few months of this I started noticing little stirrings of self-love in my heart. I know myself better and care not only about my happiness now, but my future happiness. I want the very best for myself and will do anything to get it. I thought about all the self-care I’ve been indulging in and wondered if there was a connection.
If I were in a romantic partnership and felt a disconnect, or a lack of love, what would any counselor or advice column tell me to do? Act as if. Go on dates. Do little things for each other. Clean the kitchen and set up the coffee before bed for my partner. Run them a hot bath with essential oils. Give them a massage. Put some clean sheets on the bed and spritz them with vanilla, for a romantic evening.
My conclusion is that without even realizing I was doing it, by practicing self-care I was actually wooing myself. Yes, a few more of those woo woo words I’ve heard thrown around for a decade: date yourself, woo yourself (GAG!). But I can attest to it – if you want to know what self-love means and feels like, it begins with the caring, and yes, the wooing. If you don’t believe me, just try it yourself. You won’t regret it ❤