In the post that discusses’ what self-love is I briefly mentioned that you can also find articles about self-love vs. self-care that basically make them up to be the same thing, however nothing is further from the truth. Self-love and self-care are each their own concept that can easily be confused and fused together but not permanently melted into one another. Knowing the difference between self-love vs. self-care is very important when learning to love yourself.
The main difference between the two
The biggest difference between self-love vs. self-care is that one can exist without the other but in the other way it cannot. You can have self-care without self-love, but you can’t have self-love without self-care. This may sound weird but let me explain how this is possible. When you are actively engaging in self-love you have to also be taking care of yourself. Self-care is inherent to self-love. People who love themselves take care of themselves in every way possible. Every way possible includes mentally, physically and spiritually. It is important to know that this doesn’t mean that they get it 100% perfect everyday all day, they absolutely don’t but there is an ever-present active intent to take care of themselves.
On the other side when you are practicing self-care you can keep that completely superficial as in, for example, taking care of your physical health and/or physical look. Self-care can be as simple as going through the motions making sure nothing in your life falls apart. You can be taking care of yourself while being completely disengaged from your life and/or feelings. This of course has its limits, but that is a discussion for another day. As you can see you don’t have to engage in any internal process to be able to practice self-care. Versus with self-love that internal process is absolutely vital in order to cultivate real and profound self-love.
The difference in applying self-love vs. self-care
Another important difference between self-love vs. self-care is how both are applied. Self-care can be practiced in reaction to something. For example when you have had a very high stress week and you decide to make Sunday a day to destress and recharge. Self-care can also be practiced as a way to prevent something from happening. This could be, for example, going to bed on time each night in order to not be too tired for your long morning commute. The last way and in my opinion the best way self-care can be practiced is when it’s completely incorporated in your lifestyle. For example making every Wednesday night movie night to unwind from the week.
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Even though in the last option self-care is continuously practiced it is still bound to specific moments while self-love is a continuous process, always. It needs continuous effort in order to grow. Meaning that self-love is not bound to specific moments in any way. The internal process of cultivating the love for yourself is always going on. The actual self-love practices could be done at specific times however this does not mean that the self-love stops after the self-love activity is over, it always continues as the internal process doesn’t stop. It can be confusing to think that self-care does stop once the activity is over but the difference is that self-love has emotions and feelings inherently attached to it, self-care doesn’t necessarily.
It is more common to engage in self-care as a reaction, prevention or as a part of a lifestyle, however it is also possible to engage in self-love for such reasons. Though let it be clear self-love has to be continuous in order for it to be cultivated in the correct ways. Self-care doesn’t have this condition. Of course at some point a condition will be implemented by the consequences of not taking care of yourself continuously but that is a cause-effect relation and thus to be expected as that is the way life works. Actions have consequences, it’s a simple age old rule.
Practicing self-care under self-love
Another difference between the two is that when you are practicing self-care stemming from a place of self-love you have to actively be engaging in making sure that the self-care practices you undertake are actually beneficial to you and your life. In the event of just practicing self-care it could very well be that you are undertaking self-sabotaging and/or self-handicapping behaviors. When your self-care is stemming from a place of self-love that can’t be because through the inherent internal process of self-love you will do a deep dive in why you are engaging in certain behaviors. You will actively want to work towards ridding yourself of hiding behind excuses.
As with everything, ridding yourself of hiding behind excuses is not an overnight deal. It’ll take time to recognize these behaviors and cut them out of your life. This brings us back to what I said earlier that with self-love practices there is an ever-present intent to do what is best for you. As you are human you’ll never be completely fail proof and that is completely okay.
You can’t practice self-love without self-care but the difference will save your self-love.
PS. Want to know more about self-love? Find out below;
1. What is Self-love; Unpacking The Popular Concept
2. Easy Self-Love Treats To Treat Yourself With
3. Self-love vs. Self-care; Key Differences You Need To Know
4. Toxic self-love practices you need to stop immediately
5. Learning To Love Yourself: Can Self-Love Be Taught?
6. How To Start Your Own Self-Love Journey (+ Free Workbook To Get You Started)