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What’s The Difference Between Self-Love & Self-Appreciation

By Dawn Nocera

Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between self-love and self-appreciation?  

I thought it would be a good idea to share the subtle differences in today’s post.  

A friend asked me about my recent Sacred Art of Self-Appreciation Retreat.

As the conversation went on, she asked me, “What is the difference between self-love and self-appreciation?”

She felt that she loved herself and yet she had a feeling that there was something different between the two.

The conversation reminded me of another one within a group of mine.

Here is a part of that conversation:

Q:  “So, question, what is the difference between self-appreciation and self-love? I am drawn to write what I LOVE about myself rather than what I appreciate about myself. It feels deeper or more intense, or even more committed to me.
Does that work for folks if I stay with love over appreciation?”  – Isabel P

My response:  “Do what MOVES you to depths of YOU, Isabel. Most people throw the word “love” around as a way to escape their deepest feelings.

I just LOVE Sushi. Really I do! I’m committed to eating it as often as possible. I love it! When we use the word “
appreciate”, we are committed to seeing the VALUE in it. So when I say, “I appreciate sushi.” I mean, “I see the value of sushi in my life. I really value the way it makes me feel. I value the sensuality of every bite I eat and how sensual I feel after eating a nice sushi meal. I see the value of eating protein that is clean in the way I feel after eating sushi.” When you can feel the value of being you, it can bring you to tears.

Even gratitude misses the mark for most people. It encourages people to look outside of themselves for the value in their lives. (I had a daily practice of gratitude for 10 years, I’m speaking from my truth.) Appreciation is a practice of seeing the VALUE in yourself.

It feels so weird to write “I appreciate myself.” I encourage you to give the word “appreciation” some attention try it for a week and see if you notice the difference. Appreciation also has a funny & natural way of revealing our blocks and limitations so we can deal with them when we are in a very positive self-loving vibe. Don’t take my word for it.”

Her Response:  “Sure, I will give that a try . . . I have being doing a kind of self-journalling. My goal is to deepen my love and enthusiasm for who I am.”

I encouraged her to do both and see if she feels the difference between the two.  Isabel is light years ahead of most people.  She mentioned that she journaled daily about the many ways she loves herself.  She has been journaling  before she ever knew of me or Self-Appreciation.

It takes a lot of inner strength and vulnerability to share your strengths openly.   The ego has a hard time staying in control of someone who really does love and appreciate themselves.

My friend and I talked about how most people think they love themselves, and yet they act in unloving and self-abusive ways.

One of the biggest reasons I am the pied piper of self-appreciation is because I intimately know it’s opposites, self-judgment and self-abuse.  They show up in so many dysfunctional ways.   If you’ve heard me speak in person, on a webinar, or on an interview, I talk more about this.

The Limits of “Love”

The unfortunate truth about self-love is that it is limited by our ability to receive or give unconditional love outside of ourselves.  It is limited by our understanding of what love is based on our experiences, and the environments we grew up in.  We even get comfortable saying, “I love you!” without meaning or feeling anything at all when we say it.  I know I have.  I’ve used, “I love this!,” as a way of expressing excitement without taking the time to feel the depths of love I have for it.

Love IS a Commitment.    

Think about this for a minute.  When you say, “I love you.” you are committing to someone and for most people that commitment comes with a subtle feeling of fear that you might lose the person you love someday!    And that feeling of fear of losing love can push people away or keep us from deeply feeling how much we appreciate (feel the difference) the time we do have together.

People who are afraid of doing the work of self-appreciation are ultimately afraid of the depths of their own emotions.  They mistakenly believe that they will have to dig up their dirt and dive deep into the shadow in order to truly appreciate themselves.  It is really not necessary.

It is the feeling that expands us most that matters.  Those are the feelings that let us know who we really are.  Deep feelings that seem to touch the very soul of who we are.

When we say we love something, we are in a state of ‘comforting acceptance’ of what is when we would be better served by furthering the journey and diving deep into the work of self-appreciation.

Change Is The Domain of Self-Appreciation

When we appreciate ourselves we change.  It is inevitable.  I don’t know anyone who has truly done the work of self-appreciation and hasn’t experienced a profound transformation.  And from what I can tell the fear of change is what keeps most people from doing “the WORK” of self-appreciation.  Here are some of the changes people fear:

  • They will be less ambitious and in turn less successful if they make self-appreciation a priority.
  • They will lose the people they love.  Somehow they will change and the ones they love will be ‘left behind.’
  • They are afraid they will have to go dig up the trash of their past in order to appreciate their future.
  • They are afraid they will waste time learning how to appreciate themselves.
  • They are afraid people will find out that they aren’t already self-loving.  “Hey, look how successful I am, it is obvious I love myself!”
  • They are afraid to be vulnerable in public; it is so scary and such a huge risk to their reputation! (Did I mention that vulnerability is a HUGE piece of self-appreciation?)
  • They are afraid  if their ego loses its power they will fail, or have to move backwards.
  • They are afraid that no one will understand what all this self-appreciation stuff is all about and they will be more lonely than ever before!
  • This list is endless…

Here Is WHY Self-Appreciation is So Transformative

When you appreciate yourself you create a safe environment around you where transformation can easily happen.

Self-Appreciation is about recognizing the value you add to the world and as you appreciate yourself your value increases and so does your vibrational frequency!  Self-appreciation is the only way I know of to transmute the energy of lower vibrations that keep people stuck in old habits and beliefs to higher and more sustainable vibrations that offer more freedom and expansion.

Self-Love = Acceptance
Self-Appreciation = EXPANSION!

Together they are a very powerful team.

To participate in the next Self-Appreciation Challenge go here.


  1. Shirly February 13, 2023 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your sincere sharing on this point of view. I am in this process and got more insights how to see the differences between self love and self appreciation. Bless you.

    • dawn May 7, 2024 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Shirly, I’d love to weave your wisdom in regarding the differences between self-love and self-appreciation. Please share!

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