Have you ever gone from spending all your time with someone to having a whole lot of time to yourself? That’s a season I’m smack dab in the middle of, and let me tell you… it’s no cakewalk. I was going to write this post about loneliness, but I realized it’s actually a post about self-love.
A lesson in self-love, that is. One that I’m still learning.
Perhaps, for whatever reason, you can relate — be it chronic singleness, a recent break-up, having a spouse who travels or a significant other who works long hours. Either way, the absence of someone you love, especially after you’ve grown used to them being around, can create a void that’s tough to fill.
Speaking from experience, it’s tempting to fill that space with indulgences. Giving into cravings such as food, wine, Netflix, or mindless scrolls through your Instagram feed, might tap into the immediate pleasure centers of your brain, but will ultimately leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied.
So, what actually helps? Adapting to a lifestyle that inspires you, one that stems from a place of self-love. This will require many conscious choices, and starts with the question: who am I at my best?
Think back to a time when you were single, happy and completely fulfilled. The time I go back to is two years ago when I was living in New York, on my own, content with who I was, what I was doing, and answering to no one.
On any given day you could find me at my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn chatting on the phone with my dad, riding a bike across Soho with a grocery bag strapped to the front of it, in Union Square with my best friend Nina, handing out sandwiches to homeless people as part of Liberty City, or jogging through Central Park, people watching along the way.
It’s not that LA has made me less independent, it’s just become so much easier to, well, relax. In a relationship, ordinary things like laying on the couch seem really enjoyable and somewhat productive. Take away the companionship and suddenly being a couch potato loses its appeal. It has me wondering, what can time spent alone teach us about how to love ourselves?
Even though I recharge by being alone, I’m now in a place where I spend the majority of my time without other people (living alone, working alone, evenings spent alone). During the day I’m busy enough, but when the evening or weekend rolls around and I’ve got no one else to occupy my time, sometimes I’m left twiddling my thumbs.
Without anyone to hang with, I get bored. Then antsy. Then I call everyone in my phone book except those with a three-hour time difference, although sometimes I call them, too, (“Hey, sorry to wake you, I know it’s midnight there… what are you up to?“). Since when did being alone become boring?
The moment I let myself become boring.
Being lonely makes me realize I should always be pouring into myself, whether or not I am by myself. That means solo-adventuring, being strategic about my downtime, filling up my soul with all that’s good and then letting all that goodness flow into others.
It’s so easy to settle into the comfort of someone accepting you, that you can let your best self slip. It’s our responsibility, however, to love ourselves before, during, and after we find love. So, how do we do that, no matter where we’re at?
Identify the areas of your life you’re neglecting, where you could use a little more self-love. Self-love, in this equation, means a regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Look at your mind, body, and spirit and get honest about the areas that need improvement. Then begin incorporating habits that will make your actual life reflective of your best life.
Here are a few promises I am making to myself on the path to self-love. Hopefully, they will spark a few of your own:
- Begin my day with stretching and affirmations
- Make time for God, daily
- Swap the majority of TV watching for books (first up: Inside by Johan Khalilian)
- Journal more often, with a heavy focus on accomplishments and gratitude
- Go to the ocean more frequently
- Curb loneliness by picking up the Bible and seeking God
- Set boundaries and learn to say no
- Try new recipes
- Keep fresh flowers in the house, always
- Cruise the beach on my bike
- Focus on my hobbies (calligraphy, painting, sending people letters)
- Begin therapy to work through emotional hang-ups and paradigms
- Meditate, specifically on God’s word
- Plan adventures and invite friends (The Broad, whale watching, bonfires, camping)
- Work out (take a class, swim, do more yoga, hike more often, break a sweat)
- Go to church by myself
- Eat cleaner more often
- Be quiet and listen to the voice within
- Travel more, especially internationally + solo
- Volunteer my spare time to a good cause
- Take a little more time for beauty (be it getting a manicure or admiring the sunset)
- Intentionally go offline and be present
What steps can you take on your journey to self-love?