layla martin

The Imperfect Guide to Self-Love

Sometimes, you need someone else to show you who you truly are.-2.png

I thought I loved myself. 

Good grief, I mean, I have a tattoo on my wrist that says, “Be someone you love.” 

I feel comfortable with who I am and often say, you either love me or hate me. There’s really no in-between. The people who get me know:

  • My facial expressions are worth more than anything I could say

  • Calling out awkward situations or comments makes me comfortable

  • Swear words bring me great joy

  • Self-reflection and improvement are my favorite past-times 

  • It can take me a minute to crack my shell open with new people, but once I do, I’m your ride or die

  • I will most likely leave any bar or party with a new friend or two

These are just a few things that makeup “Amanda”, but it’s the tiny things that create what you love about someone. 

So, if you don’t love those things about yourself, how could anyone else?

But if I’m being honest with myself, the last few years, I’ve doubted myself, my worth, my ability to be loved.

It would come in small waves though from:

  • Overthinking situations where absolutely nothing was happening, and then I end up hurting my own feelings

  • Too much time scrolling and lurking people on the internet who don’t impact my day to day

  • Playing other people’s games and not taking up space for my own

Let’s be real. We all know when we’re not our best. 

I can feel the energy shift when I’m not journaling, meditating, creating or spending time on the yoga mat or with people who light me up. 

When I’m not investing in myself, everything goes to hell. Quickly.

But even with those things in my life, I believe that loving ourselves is an ever-evolving process. You’ll hit plateaus and need to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not.

Just like loving someone else — sometimes you need to take it to another level

The Inner Awakening

I knew I was living life in sleep mode.

I could feel that I wasn’t connected to myself and the people around me fully.


Because I’ve felt that magic and aliveness before.

It would be vibrant and magical leaving me with the feeling that anything was possible. A trip to the coffee shop was lovely. Time with friends felt colorful and heart-healing. My mood wasn’t dependent on other people because I was finding the joy and gratitude in every moment.

Then just as I was enjoying my life, someone (let’s be real, a guy) would come along and screw it up. He would be into my wild spirit, dreams and run away with my feelings. 

He would make plans for the future and make me believe that this was it.

And it never was. He’d disappear with only his occasional likes on the internet remaining. That thief ruptured my world and couldn’t even call me back. WTF.

As hurt as I was that this seemed to happen over and over, I had to ask myself a question:

How fragile are you that one person can alter your entire world?

Sure. Getting your heart stomped on will change you, but why is it we give someone else so much power over how we feel about ourselves?

Why can’t we stand on our own and know our worth with or without someone?

Well, sometimes you need someone else to show you who you truly are.

I believe in soulmates. I honestly believe that there is someone out there looking for me and that I’ll know it when the two of us collide. 

That’s who I thought he was. 

The moment he stepped into the room, I felt more myself than I had in so long. No words had to be spoken — we just got each other. He looked at me as if everything I said was captivating and even the things that seemed like they should be deterrents, were sealing the deal.

I was sure all the people around us could sense the tension between us. There was this little piece of me that was saying, “This must be it.”

Like clockwork, an evening of drinks and playful banter led to a cosmic conversation about soulmates. 

And then, just as I was assuming he would talk about whatever was happening between us, he confessed that he had just found his forever love.

It was kismet. The stars had aligned at the perfect time for them. Everything was as it was meant to be.

And then there was me. 

It’s funny when non-single friends ask me why I’m not dating someone. Occasionally, I’ll hear something about “needing to be more open” or “you have to put yourself out there”.

Hey, MOFO. First, singleness is not a disease, and any solo person I know who wants a relationship is most likely flinging themselves at any glimmer of hope possible.

If you want to be with one person, you can’t fit with all the people.

I know this intuitively. But it still feels like a dagger to the heart when, yet again, you discover that the person in front of you is not who you’re supposed to be with. 

Tears welled up in my eyes as the conversation went on because a tiny voice inside of me said, “Maybe, this isn’t meant to happen for you.”

The next morning, another thought appeared — why did this one bother me so much?

We barely knew each other, and it’s a little silly to fall into someone so quickly.

And then there was this:

Meeting him reminded me that my heart wasn’t made of stone.

All the feelings and sensations that came up when we met surprised me because it had been SO long since I’d felt anything similar to that. 

To quote The Oh Hellos:

Hello, my old heart

How have you been?

Are you still there inside my chest?

I’ve been so worried, you’ve been so still

Barely beating at all

What a cruel joke to feel those things again to only have them disappear.

But unlike the times before when a spark would ignite something in me and then leave when someone would throw a wrecking ball into my heart, this one shattered the mediocre dreamland I had been in.

Apparently, that’s what soulmates do

It’s said that soulmates can be friends, family members or romantic partners. The one thing they all have in common is they’re meant to teach and enlighten you about what’s missing in your life. 

You find each other as an awakening to the life you haven’t been living fully.

Now, I always imagined that my soulmate would be my forever person (and for me, I will continue to think of it that way), but there’s a debate about that too. There’s a difference between a soulmate, twin flame, and life partner according to relationship and spiritual experts. 

Regardless of what he was or wasn’t, the intensity of us faded immediately after that night. It was as if I had dreamed the entire thing up. Because this was never supposed to be about a man.

And for the first time in a long time, I was awake.

Struggling to Find My Space Again

When a character in a movie has a moment of “aha”, things seem to fall into place easily, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Not to say that my epiphany didn’t leave me feeling motivated and free, but when you’ve been caged up for so long, freedom can be scary.

I also felt guilty. Looking at the last couple of years, where I had phoned some things in — career, relationships, fitness — and wondering why I wasted so much time. 

Other people may not have noticed, but I did. I still went through a lot of the motions with all the above, but I didn’t truly feel alive. 

Part of that “wasting” looked like chasing.

Going after what other people suggested. Jumping through hoops to make things work for other people because I was tired of fighting. Shrinking myself because taking up space led me to become “dormant”. 

I had been burned pretty badly by some situations where the true me was “too much” for some people, so I stupidly retreated and tried to blend in. But what I was really doing was chipping away at my soul.

There’s a myth that strong people are never afraid nor do they doubt themselves.

But as the saying goes, “Check on your strong friend.”

People don’t like to hear that things aren’t great. They love to offer advice and tell you how things will turn, how you need to keep going, and why everything happens for a reason. 

What a lot of people don’t do is listen. 

I’m not exempt from this, but I also hate how you’re talking to someone and all you can see is them waiting to respond.

Some people won’t have the reactions you want, and you learn or re-learn quickly safe people are and who they are not.

I wish during that time, I would have just listened to Amanda more.

That’s the one thing I felt the most with the guilt of “wasted time”: WTF was I doing listening to other people so much? My intuition is my greatest strength, so I should use it. But first, I had to show up.

Not Your Basic Self-Love Ish

I believe you’ll find what you’re looking for if your vibrations are right — the energy you put out is the energy you’ll receive. And woah, had the energy shifted. 

I’m not going to say it was full-blown Alchemist vibes of “the universe conspiring to help me achieve what I want”  just yet, but it was pretty freaking close.

And I tapped into the essence of who I am again. The me that felt buried under disappointment and expectations. An invisible force had lifted, and I wasn’t afraid to be seen. 

It happened in a few ways, and some of them, were a long time coming. 

Like listener says in their song, ‘Wooden Heart’, “Everything falls apart at the exact same time it all comes together perfectly.”

Without even realizing it, I put myself back together again in 3 steps.

  1. Reestablishing Boundaries

People do what works until something doesn’t anymore. My therapist told me a while ago that I hit that place, and there was really no stepping back.

One of the first things she mentioned was boundaries, and it has since been my rallying cry for anyone who feels like they’ve lost control over their lives. You feel as though you have to play everyone else’s game to keep the peace, be the “nice, cool one” or because you’re afraid that standing up to someone will mean they’ll leave. 

But drawing lines between ourselves and someone else is the only way we can thrive.

Dr. Henry Cloud explains it as:

Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with.

I had to look at some relationships where I felt that I was constantly giving, but never receiving or even where “my allegiance was mandatory”. You decide how much time, if any, you’ll spend with people. No one needs to live in a state of constantly trying to gain approval. 

And boundaries can also look like:

  • Not working while on vacation because “catching up, so you don’t have so much to come back to” is a myth. People will survive without you for a week or so.

  • Setting times to check social media, so you don’t get sucked down a comparison rabbit hole. Or if you realize it’s affecting your mental health, deleting apps altogether.

  • Keeping time for yourself and not bailing just because someone else believes what they have going on is more important.

  • Saying no without needing an excuse. You don’t have to be mean, but you also don’t have to have a reason you can’t do something.

  • Knowing that someone else’s happiness is not your responsibility

Not everyone likes it when you create that space, but if they really care about you, they’ll come to understand. 

2. Making My Own Plans

I don’t know what it is about being single, but couples assume that you have no plans and will just be so excited to tag along. 

There’s an assumption that because you’re solo, you’re not making plans for the holidays or randomly throughout the year. You’re the “one they can count on” to make the trek across the country in December or the one who’ll be around when they randomly want to stop in your city. 

You don’t have a “family to support”, so why can’t you come to this wedding in a remote location? Don’t you work from home and have a lot of free time?

I used to be afraid that being single would mean I’d turn into a super selfish person who’d never be able to let someone else in. But it’s been the opposite.

My “vacations” are pretty much always family-centered. I love my family dearly, but my entire calendar can’t revolve around family gatherings just because it’s easier for me to come to everyone else. 

And sadly, so many “girls' trips” never happen, no matter how many times you say, “No seriously. We’re going to do this.” 

So, I started putting things on my radar and calendar.

I’d been wanting to go to a yoga retreat for awhile, but thought it would be too expensive or something outside of my reach. Turns out, there’s an incredible yoga center within a day’s drive. Sweet.

As someone who has moved around the country by myself more times than seems possible, I have never taken a solo trip. There are places I’ve wanted to go for awhile, but kept putting it off. But I made a list of destinations perfect for traveling by myself and found some travel companies for the uno traveler.

From there, I mapped out some goals I had for myself that have nothing to do with anyone else — financial and otherwise. Just refocusing on the things I want helped me realign to my core. 

I’m not playing someone’s game; I’m running my own.

3. Tapping Into My Hidden Goddess

You know when things have just been good, and you’re feeling yourself?

Well, I hadn’t connected to that side for a minute, so I forgot how good it felt.

 But DAMN. It feels hella good.

The game-changer for me was discovering the gem of a gal, Layla Martin. I found her through the recommendation of a recommendation of another life coach, right around the time that I was leaning into the energy shift. Something good was brewing, but I didn’t know what.

Layla is the founder of the Tantric Institute of Integrated Sexuality. Oh, yes. I went there.

Beyond teaching the art of tantra, Layla believes “that every single part of us is worthy of love”. And she teaches this through removing emotional and psychological blocks keeping you confined from living freely — in and outside of the bedroom. 

So many of us are afraid of digging into that part of us because of past traumas, stereotypes or because we don’t even know that element of ourselves exists.

But it does. And it’s just waiting to be ignited. 

Around the time I found Layla, I went on a date with a guy who seemed to check off a lot of boxes. It seemed to be “a match made in heaven”. Not going to lie. I liked him.

BUT, I realized pretty quickly though that he was qualifying me the entire night. He was quick to mention his multiple properties and investments and how every date is a job interview. Cool story, bro. 

Maybe another me would have felt the need to perform or show this person I just met that I’m “worthy” of his time and attention. 

This me though, just sat back even more and decided that I wasn’t jumping through hoops for fucking anyone who I just met. 

The cycle was broken. The fear I had of being in a strong place and a guy messing it up, had somehow come full circle. I was sitting in a place of power — not metaphorical or theoretical — an actual place where I could feel my power. It was stable and easy. 

It’s still a process of learning this “self-love” ish, but if you’re not learning, you’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, you’re going to stay exactly where you are. 

Because as Brené Brown said,

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

So, I’ll just keep walking, if you don’t mind.