#231: Conversations on Self-Love in English | Phrasal Verbs, Idioms, & Collocations

Feb 9, 2022 | Advanced Vocabulary, Collocations (Vocabulary), English Conversation

Aren’t self-care and self-love the same?

You might be asking that question if you have worked to develop a self-care practice or if you remember a lesson I did on the topic of self-care in English

And while there is some overlap between the two, there’s an important distinction:

Self-care is about your actions — the way you care for yourself physically and mentally. For example, making time for fitness regularly. Or giving yourself 10 minutes of reading time every day.

Self-love is focused on the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself. It’s about showing kindness to yourself.

I think you might agree that that act of self-love is a bit more difficult. We tend to be our own harshest critics.

With this lesson, you will feel more confident in discussing the complex, abstract topic of self-love through richer vocabulary and phrases.

From start to finish, you’ll learn powerful verbs, phrasal verbs, idioms, and collocations often used in conversations on self-love. 

As a result, you’ll be 100% ready to chat in English with others about practicing self-love and you’ll also be more equipped to strategize the cultivation of self-love in your life.

Talking About Self-Love in English | Advanced Vocabulary

Self-love is a dynamic or ever-changing state of gratitude and appreciation for ourselves that we cultivate through intentional actions supporting spiritual, psychological, and physical growth.

Common Verbs for Discussing Self-Love

If you’re wondering whether there are specific words to help you express actions related to self-love, there are!

Let’s go over some verbs that are often used to discuss these actions. 

Cultivate: This is essential for any conversation related to self-love. To cultivate means to foster, develop, or promote the growth of something.

Ex. “To be at peace with ourselves, we should aim to cultivate self-love.


Practice: To cultivate self-love, we need to practice it. To practice means to do something habitually or repeatedly to acquire a skill. 

Ex. “Every morning, I practice self-love by setting time aside for a 10-minute meditation.


Prioritize: When it comes to self-care or self-love, we can dive deeper into a conversation by discussing the things we prioritize. To prioritize means to give more importance to addressing or doing something over another.

Ex.Prioritizing daily exercise and healthy eating for better health, shows that you have self-love.” 


To be intentional: Self-love requires being in tune with our needs. Simply indulging in any action won’t always cultivate self-love, so we need to be intentional. To be intentional means to be deliberate, conscious, and mindful. 

Ex.This week, I was intentional in the way I responded to negativity; I chose to prioritize my self-love.”

Why Prioritize Self-Love?

Through self-love, we create habits and opportunities that break free from the toxic comparisons and limitations we create in our minds. 

The word toxic implies that something is poisonous, very harmful or unpleasant. Indeed, constantly comparing ourselves to others might result in discouragement and even unfair self-judgement.

Prioritizing self-love also allows us to stay true to our values and belief system. It allows us to foster healthy relationships with others and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

To stay true to something/someone means to be firmly devoted or loyal to someone or something.

You’ll often hear these collocations: 

  • To stay true to your beliefs
  • To stay true to who you are
  • To stay true to yourself

Through self-love, we encourage ourselves to be more accepting, giving, open-minded, and compassionate. 

What Are Common Obstacles to Self-Love?

There are four common obstacles to cultivating self-love:

  1. Self-criticism
  2. Lack of self-worth
  3. Lack of self-care
  4. Weak boundaries


Self-criticism is when we hyperfocus on the weaknesses and flaws in ourselves. 

Ex. For example, we might self-criticize when comparing ourselves to others, when focusing on our shortcomings, or pointing out our negative traits. In some ways, it’s a form of cultivating self-loathing and guilt. 


Self-worth is the degree to which we value ourselves. In this way, self-worth is also the foundation for self-esteem and self-respect. 

Ex. For instance, when talking about self-love, I might say “I realized that constantly seeking the approval of others undermines my self-worth”. 


Self-care, as you may remember from another CE lesson, is the deliberate act of taking care of our mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Ex. For example, when someone asks you about work-life balance, you might point out that “A lack of self-care in your routine can eventually lead to an absence of self-love”. 


Boundaries aren’t always physical. Boundaries can also be the emotional limits we communicate to others and ask them not to cross. 

Ex. When we lack boundaries, we’re more than likely to become a little too lenient and prone to having people treat us in ways that make us feel uncomfortable. Creating weak boundaries is definitely an obstacle to cultivating self-love.

Ways to Cultivate Self-Love

Now that we know why we should practice self-love, we should also talk about how to cultivate self-love. Here are 6 ways to do so:

Tip 1: Get in tune with your needs and desires to take stock of the behaviors or attitudes that are preventing you from prioritizing your self-love.

By taking stock, we create a mental list of all the things that hinder our growth and happiness.

Get in tune (idiom) = having a good understanding of someone or something

To take stock of (phrasal verb) = review or make an overall assessment of a particular situation, typically as a prelude to making a decision.


Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to turn over a new leaf. If you’ve struggled with self-love in the past, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to cultivate it. Turning over a new leaf means accepting that every day is an opportunity for a fresh start. You only need to take the first step.

To turn over a new leaf (idiom) = start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way.


Tip 3: Set boundaries and stick to your guns.

When you communicate your boundaries, you set and adhere to a standard for the way others treat and communicate with you. Setting boundaries is also a great way to gauge whether someone, or a situation, is a source of toxicity.

To stick to your guns (idiom) = refuse to compromise or change, despite criticism.


Tip 4: Commit to showing compassion towards yourself: stop comparing yourself to others, believe in yourself, break toxic thought patterns that degrade your self-worth, and accept that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. In essence, be intentional with cultivating positive thoughts.

In the eye of the beholder (phrase) = meant to say that something is a matter of personal opinion; for example, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is a matter of personal opinion. What one person considers to be beautiful may not be the same as another.


Tip 5: Create opportunities for self-care.

Whether you have five minutes to spare or twenty minutes to dedicate to self-care, carving out time for ourselves is essential. Carving out time means to intentionally dedicate a certain amount of time to something.

Self-care looks different to each person but exercising, indulging in hobbies, practicing mindfulness, cultivating positive thinking, practicing gratitude, and even eating a healthy diet are some ways you can practice self-love daily. 

To carve out time = to make or create time for something.

Time to Practice!

It’s important to immediately practice new vocabulary. The best way to do that is to use what you learned in your own examples.

Reflect on the vocabulary you learned today and share:

  1. How do you carve out time for self-love in your day-to-day routine? 
  2. In what ways have you struggled to cultivate self-love, and in what ways have you succeeded?

You can share with me and the SCE Community in the comments below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

~ Annemarie


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