Self-love is not a feeling

I have thoughts, today, friends.

I suspected, back when I started my Buy No Clothes in 2021 Challenge, that I would happen upon a few important lessons. I established the rules of my Challenge in the hopes of gleaning as much benefit as I could:

1. I would learn how to stop wanting what I couldn’t or shouldn’t have
2. I wanted to know exactly what was in my closet and I wanted to love it all
3. I would know how to put together an outfit from what was in my closet and if I was lacking creativity, I would already have a few ideas at my fingertips
4. I would prepare my outfit the night before so I didn’t have to stress out about it in the morning (aka Mise en Place)
5. I would take better care of my clothes and learn how to turn things I didn’t love into things I did love

If you have been following along, you’ll know that some of these have been battles more easily fought than others: I have become the world’s foremost and most vocal Mise en Place evangelist, but I can still covet things that I don’t or shouldn’t have like it is my job. I have preached the benefits of Not Shopping and have picked up some pretty darn useful tailoring skills.

The unexpected lessons

My whole Buy No Clothes Challenge was inspired by a little voice in my heart whispering:

You need to stop throwing money at your self-worth problems

The voice of reason

In spite of this clearly not-closet related incitement, I esteemed that the area of my life in which I was obviously throwing money at my problems was my closet. I was in an abusive relationship with myself: buying back my own good graces after talking to myself like rotten fish. So by not buying clothes, I would be forced to work on that abusive relationship.

It worked. In so many ways, it worked.

I learned that small, daily (non-financial!) investments in myself were far more valuable than any new thing I could ever bring into my life. This was especially obvious as I made Mise en Place a habit. Every single morning when I would find my clothes for the day hanging in the bathroom waiting for me, I felt loved, cared for and, sometimes, even flattered by the version of me who thought I might like to wear a dress the next day (especially when I had just rolled out of bed and would have loved to stay in my pyjamas.)

Loving myself is not a feeling. (Say that again?)

Loving myself is not a feeling

Lily Fields, Philosopher Princess

In order to love myself, I need to do the things. Not all the things. I mean, the point of this was to stop shopping. So I couldn’t do all the things. I needed to do the things. Those things that I would do for someone I really, truly loved. The things I would do for someone I wanted to serve (not an easy thought for a rebellious brat like me!) And not just a fireworks-type spectacle of self-love. I needed to do the things that would be quiet, illuminating, warm, tender, centering investments.

Self-love is found in the multitude of little things that you do for yourself to make your own life easier.

Lily Fields, Philosopher Princess.

Decluttering as self-care

Over the last week of dealing with a moth, mold and rot problem in the basement and heading-off a new moth problem in the apartment, I have discovered another very, very important lesson that I would not have been ready for earlier in my Buy No Clothes year: decluttering (and not just clothes) removes a mental and emotional burden that none of us were ever meant to live with.

The more stuff we own, the more space it occupies, and not just physically. This stuff occupies space in our hearts and in our minds, in good ways and in bad ways. Quite literally, where our treasure is, our heart is, too. And when we have removed the stuff from our responsibility, there is less stuff occupying our hearts and our minds.

I don’t think I could have accepted this truth before I had done a “sample size portion” of decluttering and being disciplined with my own closet, and particularly, doing the Mise en Place each day.

I have mentioned the awful word mindfulness a few times this month, and we aren’t ready to hear the end of it quite yet. But I am starting to believe that a practice of daily, regular decluttering is a tiny investment in mindfulness that feels a heckuva lot like self-care.

Example: getting rid of those empty hair conditioner bottles that I had saved for the boys to play with in the bath. They played with them at first…like back in March. They hadn’t touched them in months. Those things had been sitting on the edge of the bathtub, getting knocked off every time someone would take a shower for months. And that sound…the sound of them falling in the tub from the ledge was something that everyone recognized.

I got rid of those bottles the other day during my decluttering rage-festival. Last night, I took a shower and, lo and behold, did not knock anything into the tub. There was no jarring noise, no quiet swearing under my breath as I tried to balance them back on the edge of the bathtub. And in some small way, I felt gratitude to the me who decided to finally recycle those bottles.

How many thousands of other little things can I do for myself that would make me feel cared-for and feel gratitude to myself?


Like I said, I have lots of thoughts on this issue, not all of which have congealed enough to be written down. But this year of learning to stop throwing money at my self-worth problems has shown me that my self-worth problems never had anything to do with what I owned. They have always been about how I treat myself, how I talk to myself, how I take care of myself.

I have long said that I try to be a student of the people I love, in particular of my husband and children. Learning to love them so that they know they are loved by me is one of the hardest, most satisfying things I do on a daily basis. Well, one thing I learned this year is that I need to be a student of myself, too. Self-love is developing a relationship with ourselves, in which we are watchful, benevolent, and careful students of ourselves.

Is there something that is a recurrent annoyance in your life (like those stupid bottles in my shower?) Do something about it today! Invest those few seconds it would take. Liberate that heartspace and headspace. Gratitude towards yourself is a feeling you do not want to miss!

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

7 thoughts on “Self-love is not a feeling

  1. This is amazing. I have an abusive relationship with myself too. I am so in awe of you, figuring yourself out at such a young age! Yes, 4os is young, looking backward from 60!!


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