There’s no skirting around the fact that self-love can be a difficult practice. There are days where I feel like I’ve finally gotten to taste a new part of my soul, and I can find gratitude in all of my healing. Of course, there are also days where I get sucked into the darkness of jealousy, and I crave the incoming love I see others receiving from their partners.
As a single female, there are times throughout the year when my empty hand and open heart feel an extra pinch of longing. Whether that’s Valentine’s Day, my birthday, the holidays, or attending various weddings for my dear friends - sometimes that pinch turns into a lump in my throat that I desperately try to push back down into my heart where I harbor everything.
Self-love isn’t a new concept to me. The saying “love yourself first” has been engrained in me so much that I tattooed it on my body at 18 with the best intentions. That was before Instagram existed and we had daily reminders across hundreds of quotes each day.
Either way, my journey towards self-love has been something I’ve been grappling with for my entire life. As a hopeless romantic, I have often found it incredibly difficult to accept the love within myself while at the same time attempting to pretend that I didn’t need it from anyone else. Truthfully, I’ve embodied strength just as much as I’ve feigned it.
Here’s the thing though, in the last year or so, something has changed. In the last year, there has been a shift in the ripples that run through me. Suddenly my energy is more accessible, and I’m aware enough of my inner currents to suddenly course correct. Where my overactive heart once led me, I’m now beginning to steer my heart mindfully.
What changed in the last year or so? Well, over the last year, I’ve found myself traversing through the tangled roads that opened for me when I turned to spirituality. Every turn and every block has made me ask myself a million questions; it made me wonder why.
Those roads have made me think, made me ask tough questions of myself, and made me uncover the burdens within all of the painful lumps I’ve pushed down to my heart throughout all of these years. It has been a journey inward that has helped me see the potential of self-love and stop comparing myself to others.
I know that “spirituality,” “metaphysics,” and talk about “the universe” sometimes turns people away or makes them uncomfortable. But what if I told you that the essence of spirituality was rediscovering who you already were? What if I said that spirituality allows you to slow down, authentically exist and harness what’s around you instead of resisting it?
Spirituality is what made me start to love myself in a way that felt true and not just a quote I shared in my group chat. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I still fall and scrape my heart but now I know how to heal myself without just covering it up.
I was once a skeptic, and I’ll be honest in saying that it was desperation that led me here… but what a beautiful journey it has been. It hasn’t been perfect, but I’m now able to look at situations by pausing and asking myself, “does this serve me and my purpose?”
I question more. I care more. I listen more. I breathe more. I sleep more. I pay attention more. I feel like I am more when I wake up, and I can feel myself release the weight when I go to bed at night. Sometimes I still feel lonely in my loving, but then sometimes I look right into my eyes and find that whisper of compassion through tricks I’ve learned along the way.
These tricks are now staples in my life, but they come extra in handy around those moments I mentioned that pinch at my uncovered heart. I turn to spiritual tools or practices in moments where I feel lonely or disconnected and focus on enjoying my own company.
My tools include everything from making time to meditate and sit with my own company to using a certain crystal to evoke or invite specific emotions into my life or to dedicating five minutes to write in my gratitude journal. All of my tools are personal and catered to my individual needs (which is where I think the magic lies).
I don’t just listen to every spiritual influencer or text I read. I try things, and sometimes I incorporate them into my life. Sometimes I try things and think “oh my gosh, this feels too unnatural” and I let it go with gratitude.
The foundation that spirituality has helped me develop is an awareness for listening to what I’m in need of at my core. Sure, it’s harder when you’re single and you continuously work towards filling those voids but establishing that foundation on our own is also what makes us stronger and more alive when we do meet the right person.
Self-love is a skill, and it’s something you have to practice regularly. I didn’t discover spirituality and just wake up one day saying, “I finally love myself!” I worked at it daily while incorporating tools and actions that awakened my awareness and catered to my heart.
One of the things I’ve discovered I need during this transformational time is, to put it bluntly, pleasure. Whether it’s controversial or not, I don’t think you can genuinely embrace self-love without embracing your innermost sexual desires.
Katrina Maria, of @pleasurepriestess via Instagram, she says that “most women do not know what is truly possible for them sexually, and if they do, they don't know how to get there.” And that’s so true! She adds that “for whatever reason, sexual energy comes up and most of us have been trained to repress it, mistrust it, limit it or delay it. It hinders our ability to embody and USE this potent energy in health, productive ways.”
I was always shy about the topic (and sometimes still am). I didn’t even get my first vibrator until I was 26! But part of my awakening has been to acknowledge my needs and the goddess within. Recognizing those desires and listening to our bodies is not only normal, but it’s crucial to feel whole (and even more so when there is no partner to aid in the discovery).
The confidence of owning this natural part of myself was a complete game changer in how I saw myself: a woman already so full of love.
It has been an endless journey of rediscovering what makes me happy, where I should be spending my energy, learning the art of saying no, letting things I can’t control go, and tapping into the universe’s natural resources for clarity. Just allowing myself the opportunity to explore all of this makes me feel fuller and more deserving of my self-love.
Another huge part of this loving spiritual awakening has also involved the simple yet powerful practice of shifting my mindset. When talking to Katie Potratz, a mindset coach (also @katiepotratz on Instagram), she has beautifully helped me realign my perspective for those lonely moments that come up and make you question your self-love (like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or the holidays).
"Being alone and being lonely are different things, it's all about your perspective. You can be alone and be grateful for the time to reflect or live on your own terms. And you can be alone and focus on the emptiness in your life. What you focus on expands. When you focus on the emptiness, that's all you'll see. When you focus on how grateful you are for your time alone, you will find that being alone is a powerful personal-growth and spiritual tool that is so highly underrated.”
I sometimes still allow things like jealousy, loneliness, and regret trickle into my stream of thoughts. Yet today I’m more mindful about catching those thoughts and reframing them before falling into the dangerous territory of negative self-talk.
As I said, self-love is a practice, and there’s no precise recipe for it. I am no expert, no guru, no healer, but I am a girl with an open heart that has done her best to put love at the forefront of her life. It just so happens that my life took a spiritual turn and that helped me understand what it means to love myself on a foundational level.
We all want to love ourselves fully, but what if for today we just committed to loving ourselves… a little more.