Valentine’s Day to me has not only felt clichéd, but also alienating. What if you’re not in a relationship? Are you expected to buy a bottle of wine, grab the tissue box and watch some cheesy rom-com at home alone? No thanks.
If we take a few steps back, we can perhaps instead focus on love itself, as a whole, in the many different shapes and forms it exists. And, as the saying goes, before you can truly love another, you must first love yourself.
The path to self-love
Just as in life, the path to self-love is not linear. It’s a messy, bumpy road that spirals with plenty of ups and downs. During my healing journey to self-love over the past six or more years, the best metaphor I love to use is the sprouting of a plant. Why? Because being human is natural, shedding your skin is natural, breaking down is natural, and transforming into something new is natural.
First, there’s the seed
With any new venture, you must have an intention. During the new moon, we set our intentions or plant our seeds for new patterns, thought forms, or physical things to come into our lives. If you are ready to truly dive deep and get to know yourself, you must plant that seed with heart-centered intention and love. When I began my healing journey, I didn’t necessarily know it was a path to self-love at the time, but the first thing I did was change my environment to a healthier one. Make sure you’re in a good emotional and physical place to begin this journey.
Water the seed
Next come the practices that will be at play when you are beginning your self-love journey. Such practices can include starting a yoga practice, taking up meditation, journaling everyday, getting involved with a support group, taking hikes in nature regularly, or attending a plant medicine ceremony. Energy healing works, psychotherapy works, and many other modalities may also help you. For me, I did it all: reiki sessions, yoga (and teacher training), going out into nature daily, listening to music and singing, and attending plant medicine ceremonies were some of the ways I came to find that love.
Notice the habits that are no longer feeding your soul, and begin to taper off or cut them off completely. I had to let go of many, many beliefs and rules that were ingrained in my head when I started my healing journey. I also had to let go of certain friends throughout the process; but, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the new friends I met in return were so much more aligned with who I was becoming.
Let the seed break open
For a new ‘you’ to emerge, the old you will no longer be able to continue on. Remember, when you invite in self-love, the ‘you’ you are becoming is REALLY you. The ‘old you’ was you, but with layers upon layers of untruths piled on top. I went through a long period of loneliness, not dating, and feeling like my world was caving in for awhile. I felt old emotions come and go and felt like I was deep in a rabbit hole. If even a fraction of this happens to you – don’t worry, it will pass. You are not crazy, and this is part of any healing journey. You have to be willing to let go of the site of shore for a while to get to new land. I went through this transition period for longer than my ego wanted, but I had to trust it was necessary for my highest growth. You have to let your heart break and let things in your life fall apart in order to truly arrive at self-love. And it’s all okay. The more you surrender to whatever is arising, the easier it’ll be.
Signs of growth
Then, the new ‘you’ will begin to emerge, and just like growing pains, things may feel new, weird, and awkward for awhile. I had to re-learn how to date in a new way, how to communicate and even how to react to certain situations. The biggest thing was drawing boundaries with people. I had to come out as who I was, despite what people from my past thought – all in the name of self-love. Think of it as a baby who is just crawling: be patient with yourself and enjoy the new ‘you’ and the surprising new things that come your way.
And one day, without you keeping track, the ‘real you’ will emerge, in full bloom. Things in your life will flow naturally, you’ll have many moments of joy and surprise and you’ll feel much more grateful for your life. You will know how to put yourself first and foremost, and you’ll know how to set boundaries with others so you can protect your heart. You’ll be able to give more freely and easily to others because you have given to yourself first. Oftentimes in the path to self-love, you have to go back first: to revisit old wounds and traumas that were never processed so they can be released. It’s a journey not for the faint of heart, but rather a journey for those who put their hearts first.
If you’re ready to begin your healing journey but don’t know where to begin, there are plenty of resources, no matter your budget or time constraints.
- Google local yoga studios in your area
- Get a 1-1 energy healing session from someone with great Yelp reviews or a personal recommendation
- Listen to talks on YouTube from people like: Matt Kahn, Ram Dass, Marianne Williamson, Gabby Bernstein, Brené Brown
- Join a hiking club
- Take a self-care vacation or yoga/meditation retreat with the intention of nourishing yourself or healing
- Attend a cacao ceremony (a wonderful plant medicine for self-love)
- Take a yoga teacher training to deepen your practice and get to know yourself better
The biggest recommendation going into this is: keep an open mind. There are numerous ways to walk the path of self-love, and there is no right or wrong way to heal. Notice the things that light you up and make you overfilled with joy: do more of that. Feeling joy, pleasure, and love is your birthright. Begin your Valentine’s Day with a commitment to love your heart first.