I recall countless nights pushing myself beyond exhaustion, believing that I had to meet everyone’s expectations.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the concept of self-compassion that I realized the damage I was inflicting upon myself. Learning to offer kindness and understanding to my own struggles opened doors to a profound sense of healing and empowerment.
Through personal experiences, I’ve witnessed working mothers finding solace in self-love amidst the chaotic juggling of multiple roles.
I’ve also met incredible survivors who discovered the transformative power of self-compassion in their healing journeys. Their stories serve as beacons of inspiration, showing us that embracing our authentic selves is the key to liberation.
- Embracing self-love and self-compassion leads to healing and empowerment, allowing you to navigate your life’s challenges with acceptance and authenticity.
- Self-love is not selfish; it fills you with positive energy, making you more available to help others and fostering greater well-being.
- Differentiating between self-love and self-compassion will help you understand their roles: self-love nurtures your mind and physical well-being, while self-compassion helps you navigate personal failures and challenges with kindness.
Table of Contents
What Does Self-Love Mean?
To me, self-love means respect. Integrity. Truly understanding that your worth stems from who you are rather than what you achieve, how you appear, or who you associate with.
Self-love has the potential to flourish when you consistently make small but significant choices, such as refraining from scrutinizing your reflection, avoiding comparisons with others, and deeply embracing the belief that you deserve to be loved despite your imperfections, wrinkles, scars, and mistakes.
It’s not a destination to reach; rather, it’s a continuous forward movement that brings greater levels of peace and tranquility as the destructive tendencies of perfectionism and comparison fade away. It requires effort. It requires a conscious decision. And it’s unquestionably worthwhile.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion, to me, is a profound practice of treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially during times of difficulty or personal struggle.
I remember a time when I faced a major setback in my career. Instead of berating myself with self-criticism, I chose self-compassion. I offered myself words of encouragement and reminded myself that setbacks are there to set me up for something greater than myself. This act of self-kindness helped me regain my confidence and bounce back stronger.
Practicing self-compassion has taught me the importance of treating myself as I would a dear friend.
Is Self-Love Selfish?
Nope, the good news is that practicing self-love isn’t the same as being selfish.
In fact, learning to love yourself helps to fill you up with more positive energy, which allows you to be more available to help others.
In a world where narcissism is a hot topic, it’s natural to worry that cultivating greater self-love could cause you to become self-centered.
However, it’s easy to see how this won’t happen when you focus on gaining a deeper appreciation of yourself.
Self-love is a sense of appreciation of who you are that develops as you take actions that promote your physical, psychological, and mental growth.
When you look at this definition from the context of my taking a yoga class, it becomes clear how doing something out of my comfort zone checks off all of the boxes for cultivating self-love.
As I engaged my body in new yoga poses, my physical abilities were pushed to the max. Plus, the deep breathing and mantras supported my mental and psychological health.
Coming back to my home rested, stronger, and more confident in my abilities made me an even more effective and patient parent, spouse, and friend.
What Are the Differences Between Self-Love vs Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion differs from self-love by pertaining more to how you feel at any given moment.
Practicing self-compassion is a lot like being your own best friend when you’re faced with a personal failure or challenge.
An easy way to see how self-compassion works is to consider what you’d say to someone who told you about a recent struggle. If you’d give yourself the same type of kindness and understanding, then you are practicing self-compassion.
For instance, instead of beating myself up for not being able to do certain yoga poses yet, I reminded myself that my body was getting stronger.
Taking a moment to appreciate that I tried hard and was on a pathway toward self-improvement helped to eliminate any negative emotions that would block my personal development.
Self-compassion is also more of a moment-by-moment practice compared to self-love.
While you can practice self-compassion at any given point during each day, self-love is a sense of positive well-being that is constantly growing or waning, depending upon how you treat yourself.
The stable nature of self-love also means that it can take more time to build up since it doesn’t necessarily involve focusing on how you feel about something that is happening at a specific moment.
Here are the key differences between the two concepts that can help you understand how to nurture both in your life.
- Self-love helps you to be more loving to others.
- Self-compassion helps you to be more loving to yourself.
- Self-love involves making your needs a priority.
- Self-compassion involves forgiving yourself for mistakes.
- Self-love is constant, whereas self-compassion is momentary.
- Self-love requires you to also practice self-compassion.
How Do You Nurture a Deeper Sense of Self-Love?
Falling in love with yourself is a lifelong process that is worth doing right. Unlike taking a break from your partner or friends, you can’t walk away from yourself.
Loving yourself simply infuses your entire life with greater happiness.
Using these ideas as inspiration for generating more self-love helps you start appreciating your inner and outer beauty.
Create a Love List
Most likely, you could list all of the things that you love about your spouse, kids, or best friend. Yet, could you do the same for yourself?
Making a list of all of your shining attributes serves as a form of self-affirmation. Taking note of your positive traits helps to boost your self-esteem, which goes hand in hand with self-love.
As you make your list, remember that it should be ongoing. Keep your list handy to read through during times of self-doubt, and remember to add new things as you make self-discoveries.
Dive Into a Personal Project
Take a few minutes to think about the last time that you engaged in a favorite hobby. If it’s been a while, then it is time to start figuring out what you enjoy doing.
A recent study revealed that people who engage in leisure activities have a more positive mood and experience less stress.
That’s right. My solo yoga trip had real value in helping to improve my self-love.
Not only does yoga represent a form of self-care, but it also keeps me happily engaged in an activity that allows me to feel the reward of making progress in my practice.
While yoga might be my thing, it’s important to find yours. Whether you paint, play an instrument, or take up woodworking is up to you.
You can even pick up a completely new hobby or replace one that you don’t find satisfying. The whole point is to engage in activities that bring you joy and help you make positive discoveries about yourself.
Use Positive Affirmations
Your thoughts truly do influence how you feel about yourself, and negative self-talk can ruin your ability to feel self-love.
Spend some time finding or coming up with a few positive affirmations that you can say each day.
I like writing them down on sticky notes and putting them on my bathroom mirror to kick off my morning on a positive note.
Leaving them around the house as surprises is also a fun way to remind yourself to focus on the positive things you bring to the world.
Effective Ways to Start Practicing Self-Compassion
Cultivating a greater sense of self-compassion isn’t always easy. After all, it’s a natural instinct to analyze where you went wrong.
Adding these strategies to your mental health toolkit can help you stop kicking yourself when you’re down and be more resilient when you make mistakes.
Know Where You Fall on the Self-Compassion Scale
The Self-Compassion Scale was created by Dr. Kristin Neff, and it’s a quick and easy way to get a snapshot of how kindly you treat yourself.
While the scale doesn’t adhere to specific clinical norms, it does provide you with a general overview of your level of self-compassion.
You can also use this scale to help you identify areas to work on, such as self-judgment or isolation, that factor into your ability to be forgiving of your flaws.
For me, just reading through some of the statements on the scale helped me to see how I might be judging myself too harshly or viewing the world from a negative angle.
Practice Mindfulness and Grounding
So far, I’ve painted my yoga trip as the best thing ever, and it mostly was.
But, I did run into a few challenges, such as not being able to perform some of the harder poses.
When that happened, my mind started racing as I worried about what other people thought and felt guilty for not keeping up with my practice.
Fortunately, this judgmental moment didn’t last long, as I fell back into the rhythm of focusing on my breathing.
Soon, I was ready to remind myself that I was making progress and that I’ll eventually meet my goals as long as I keep trying.
You can enjoy a similar effect no matter what is happening in your life by stopping your racing thoughts in their tracks by focusing on the moment.
Let Go of Negative Notions
Critical self-talk is the biggest threat you face to developing greater self-compassion.
Take a moment to think about a few beliefs you hold about your abilities, personality, or appearance.
Did you grow up with your parents saying you were always lazy? Or, is it a running joke that you tend to procrastinate?
If so, then letting go of these false beliefs clears the way for developing a greater sense of understanding about yourself.
Try turning those negative statements around by saying something positive.
Perhaps you aren’t a procrastinator after all. You just spend lots of time gathering information before starting a project, which helps you to be successful.
Cultivating Greater Self-Love and Self-Compassion
Knowing the difference between self-love vs. self-compassion is only the first step toward developing these two traits. Now, it’s time to find practices that bring you a more positive sense of well-being.
Whether you take up yoga or repeat positive affirmations, investing in yourself is worth the effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is self-compassion different from self-love?
Self-compassion pertains to treating yourself with kindness and understanding during challenging times, while self-love involves consistently promoting your physical, psychological, and mental growth.
How does practicing self-love benefit others?
Self-love fills you with positive energy, making you more available to help others. It fosters a deeper appreciation of yourself, preventing narcissistic behavior.
What are some methods to nurture self-love?
Creating a list of your positive traits, engaging in personal projects, and using positive affirmations can nurture a deeper sense of self-love.
How can one cultivate self-compassion?
Understanding your position on the Self-Compassion Scale, practicing mindfulness, and letting go of negative notions about yourself can help cultivate self-compassion.