I see self-love and self-care as being equally important sides of the same coin. One without the other represents an incomplete cycle of acceptance, in my opinion.
Learning to love and accept and respect yourself is a highly personal process, and I’m sure that there are as many paths to self-love as there are people following them. Learning to care for and nourish and celebrate yourself is also a highly personal process, and countless actions and philosophies can lead us to cultivate those behaviors, too. No method is more correct or effective than any other, of course, but I’ve been thinking recently about how someone who is still mired in self-loathing might get started extracting herself from the mire. And it seems to me that there are two main ways to approach such a journey, and that they are, essentially, opposites:
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
Those who start with learning to love themselves will likely find that, once they’ve made some headway, they’ll naturally feel inclined to become better self-stewards. Why would you nurture a body and soul that you hate? What would motivate you to care for a self that you don’t respect? It’s logical to think that self-care will flow naturally once self-love has been established.
CARE FOR YOURSELF FIRST
This was my path. Although I had plenty of self-respect in the intelligence and talent realms, I spent most of my young and early adult life hating my BODY so thoroughly that I had to do an end-run in order to establish a more holistic love for myself. I grudgingly accepted that no one else was going to keep me healthy or make me feel lovely, so I’d better figure it all out on my own. And learning to care for myself – eating well, dressing well, exercising, learning about my figure, tending my health – eventually led to acceptance and love. It sounds backwards in many ways, but it worked. I tended my garden, then learned to appreciate it.
I’ve tried in vain to decipher which starting point would work best for which people, but I believe both of them have merit. Hopefully – should you be stuck in that mire of self-loathing yourself – one will resonate with you so you can begin the process of becoming unstuck.
Image courtesy hall.chris25