In "How do I love thee?", the speaker defines herself entirely through the ways in which she loves someone else. Love for another becomes the foundation of her existence. In fact, we think this speaker might go so far as to say "amo, ergo sum" – I love, therefore I am. She certainly wouldn't be the speaker of the poem without her love, or her beloved!
The speaker conflates her own existence with her feeling of love; the extent of her soul and the extent of her love are actually the same thing.