SELF-CARE: What Is Self-Love?

By Nichole A. Cavallaro


First, I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not at your expense. It’s not someone doing nice things or giving you nice things. It is not exhausting, harmful or unhealthy. Loving yourself, or being selfish (the good selfish), is your self-maintenance. You are, in a way, parenting yourself. Taking care of your needs and making them a priority.

Self-love is important to living your best quality of life. It affects who you pick for a partner, the self-image you project at work and how you deal with personal issues in your life. So, what is self-love? Is it a beauty makeover or a new pair of shoes? Can you increase your stock in self-love by reading about it or finding self-love in someone else? Perhaps a new relationship will make you love yourself more? No to all of those. Of course, things feel great and you have gotten some gratification from these things. But growth in self-love does not happen in these types of activities.

According to Deborah Khoshaba, Psy. D, self-love is “not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth.” She writes, “Self-love is a dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purposes and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.” Boom.

Want more insight on this and how to improve your relationship with yourself? See the list below:

  1. Become more mindful of your needs, thoughts and feelings.
  2. Choose what you need over what you
  3. Practice good self-care. Take care of those basic needs such as hygiene, eating and hydrating, sleeping, intimacy, exercising and health social interactions.
  4. Forgive yourself. (This one is my favorite) We are too hard on ourselves. Accepting yourself as you are, mistakes and all, the fact that you are not perfect, is a pre-requisite to loving yourself, thus, loving others.
  5. Set boundaries. (This is another favorite of mine) You will respect yourself more when you set parameters or say no to work, love or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally, spiritually or express poorly who you are.
  6. Protect yourself from toxicity. Bring the right people in your life. Have people who celebrate your successes and happiness. Don’t promote relationships that you’re not invested in. You’re being dishonest with them and with yourself.
  7. Live with intention and purpose. Live with design and a positive intention. Is your intention to live a healthier, quieter and richer quality of life? By quieter I mean, less drama and noise. By richer I mean happier experiences and quality relationships.


Choose one or a few of the above to start thinking about. After you have thought about the, start engaging. In other words, start doing them. You will start to see yourself in a better light, a more loving and respectful light and others will see this and follow suit. Positivity effects positivity. And we need more of that contagions these days. (Resource: Deborah Khoshaba Psy. D, Psychology Today.)


Nichole A Cavallaro LMHC is a mental health provider in Syracuse. More info on her can be found at or you can contact her at [email protected]