What does it mean to be spiritual? My guess is if you’ve asked yourself that, you are in some way.
For me, a spiritual path seeks to understand and navigate the ego and find love for ourselves. I used to try and help everyone else around me, giving out my energy to be left feeling empty and alone. Nowadays I give that energy to those who give it back to me. I still find myself comparing my spiritual path to others around me. Am I doing it right? Am I a fraud? What do other people think of me? The ego gets in the way. But like Ru says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?!”
But, how can we love ourselves without being egotistical?
Honestly, I believe it comes down to honesty. Learning how to be honest with yourself and to others requires a degree of assertiveness (not to be confused with aggression) and self-reflection. Over the years I’ve had highs, lows, neutrality and really hazy spots where IDK what the heck is going on. Now I try and remind myself these self-care things to keep my feet on the ground and my spirits up;
- Be a friend to yourself. Sometimes we tell ourselves things we wouldn’t let anyone say to our friends. So why do we tell ourselves we’re not good enough? We feed the anxiety and behave in ways we don’t really want to. Next time you tell yourself you are stupid/ugly/unworthy, question if your friend expressed they felt that way, what advice would you give them? Tell yourself that. You are an imperfect human, just like everybody else.
- We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We can idolise our peers, seeing their strengths and comparing them to our weaknesses. Again, this feeds our self-doubt. They are probably doing the same back to you, no matter how confidently they appear, if someone is nit-picking at you or trying to make you feel small, it says so much more about them than it does about you. If they were truly happy, they shouldn’t be dragging you down, so don’t let them. Seeing them as imperfect equals helps. You’re also imperfect, so give yourself a break.
- Protect yourself. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from internal and external forces that seek to corrupt our morality and sense of self. Points 1 & 2 are possible with practice and time, so be gentle on yourself. We can put up barriers which can hinder growth (trust me on that one) but it’s important to find a way to protect yourself in a healthy way. (I’m still working on this).
- Act honourably. A good friend once told me if we trust others it gives them cause to trust us. Yet if people behave in a deceitful manner, they have probably been living a lie for some time. If you act honourably and true to yourself, even you are deceived, you still have honour. What do they have? Equally, when we don’t know our truth we can behave without honour. If you behave regretfully, the hardest thing to do is to be kind to yourself and understand why you did it. The bravest thing is to put your hand in the air and say “I did something I am not proud of, I know what I did was wrong but I behaved in that way because of X,Y,Z and I know not to do it again”.
- Trust yourself. Listen to your gut, the voice that says, “This is wrong” or “Seize this moment!” there is often a reason. Our guides, ancestral knowledge and intuition are with us. In tarot the Hanged Man, The World and Wheel of Fortune can appear when our choices feel stagnated. The greatest intuition is our gut feeling. Learning to follow that, even when it is difficult, can be most rewarding.
- Play! Play is SO important, it makes us laugh and feel young. Sometimes play takes a calm form; tarot, a herbal bath, digging your toes into the earth or swimming in the sea. It can be silly too! As a pagan, I celebrate the each point on the Wheel of the Year. This Ostara me and the gals sacrificed a chocolate My Little Pony by smashing it with our butts on the kitchen floor. It wasn’t a particularly traditional but it made us laugh a lot. At other times we practice crafts of our ancestors in more symbolic rituals. My favourite thing about paganism is that it can be whatever you need it to be. Sometimes you need to be a silly sausage.
- Fail some. If we never try, we never fail. If we never fail, we never learn.
No matter where your spiritual path takes you, I believe these values will take you to where you need to be. There are other aspects to these points that move away from self-care and into seizing opportunities and a whole other array of topics, which I can explore another time. For now, thank you so much for reading my very first blog post!