I Used Self-Care as a Cop Out for Self-Love

At the beginning of 2018, I made a simple resolution: more self-care. I know, nothing groundbreaking, and basically everyone on the internet made the same promise. But with all the buzz surrounding self-care, I thought this would be a life-changing, positive intention. As with most things I do, I went all-in, quickly becoming a self-care guru. I got “good” at taking care of myself: I kept up with the latest trends (jade rolling, anyone?), posted my perfectly-staged bubble baths on Instagram, and made self-care into a daily practice. I was doing it all right, at least by the standards I imposed by social media and what I read online. And for a while, I felt great.

 

 

As time went on, my supposedly “life-changing” resolution began to change my life — for the worse. While I concerned myself with checking all the self-care boxes, I began to forget about the driving force behind the concept: self-love. I got so used to the physical action of caring for myself that it became mindless, causing my self-love to suffer. Care has many fundamental differences from love. When a waiter re-fills your water at a restaurant, he’s caring for you, but that definitely doesn’t mean he loves you. When a nice mail carrier drops off your 57th Amazon order of the week, she’s caring for you, but that doesn’t mean she loves you (especially after all those orders). When care becomes severed from love, it is mechanical, ordinary, and not life-giving.  

 

 

I got so used to the physical action of caring for myself that it became mindless, causing my self-love to suffer.

 

 

This truth began to manifest in my life. With my twice-weekly chlorophyll face masks, endless cups of wellness tea, Epsom salt baths, and nightly guided meditation, I was doing too much with too little reason. Popular media told me that this should make me feel fulfilled, calm, and empowered. Instead, I just felt empty. I wondered what I was doing wrong.

No matter how many facials I slathered on my face, my acne stifled my confidence; no matter how much yoga I did, I still stressed over my bloated stomach; and as much as I meditated, I felt defeated when I got anxious. My volition was off. I was doing these things not because I loved my skin and wanted to nourish it, or because I loved my body and wanted to do what was right for it. Instead, I was unappreciative of what I had and where I was at.

 

Source: @sarahloufalk

 

If the love I had within me was real, it would remain constant despite my flaws and shortcomings. As hard as it is to admit, this was simply not the case.

It all came crashing down when I underwent a huge life change halfway through the year, moving eight hours away from my family and friends. I was distanced from my support system and I somewhat lost my sense of self-confidence that I always had. I found my self-talk becoming negative and sometimes berating. It wasn’t glaringly obvious that these things were happening — my self-care routine masked them. It was the subtle dull of self-love that caused me to live hardly realizing the detrimental shift in my mental state.

Practicing self-care is far easier than pursuing unconditional self-love. People everywhere are more than willing to tell you how to care for yourself. Self-love comes with no such instruction book. It is not a trend or a buzzword, and often there’s nothing to show for it on Instagram.

 

If the love I had within me was real, it would remain constant despite my flaws and shortcomings. As hard as it is to admit, this was simply not the case.

 

Source: @barre3

 

But pursuing this love is bold. It is saying, “Here I am, all of me. I accept myself in spite of my shortcomings because I am so much more than them. I am worthy, strong, seen, heard, and necessary. I am grateful to be here, in this body and in this life. Today I will make a step towards the person I hope to be, but who I am now is already more than enough.”

 

Self-care is a necessary tool in this pursuit, but it is by no means a fix-all.

 

Self-care is a necessary tool in this pursuit, but it is by no means a fix-all. I invite you to care for yourself in the way that only you know how. But please, always remember that self-care should be rooted in unconditional self-love. Self-love is courageous and it can be hard, but I promise you it is worth cultivating and tending to every single day.

  • I started a lifestyle blog including talking about self-care and you made such good points. It’s about truly taking care of yourself, not just the acts. <3 love your posts!