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The Secret to Self Loving

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This past year, I have come to appreciate the power of truly loving myself. Most of my life, being alone was one of my biggest fears. I found myself in numerous relationships for the wrong reasons and ended up settling in ill-fitting ‘partnerships’. This deeply rooted fear and lack of understanding of myself caused the relationships to become my whole world; my focus of attention; my center. I would sacrifice my own goals for the other person. And, when the relationship collapsed, so did my sense of self.

Through much introspection, I realized the source of these failed relationships was myself. I realized that I didn’t truly love or appreciate myself and had relied on external sources for love and approval. I decided to change. I had to overcome my fear of loneliness by finding independence and personal freedom. Even since I found true appreciation for myself, the quality of relationships I have attracted has been phenomenal. I have discovered that the more I loved and understood myself, the less I feared being by myself, and the more healthier relationships I was able to attract into my life.

I started doing what I called “Dates with myself“. Regardless my external relationship status, I would schedule time with myself. I would literally take myself out on a date and spend that time totally focused on myself. It’s my time. We spend so much time and energy focused on others that we forget to recharge the source of that energy. It is only when you are well that you can have the energy and internal resources to make a positive difference and help others. This is a simple, yet powerful concept that can dramatically improve your wellbeing, effectiveness and mental health.

Before attempting a ‘date with yourself’, Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Remove Disturbances – unplug your phone, power down the cell phone and blackberry, shut down the computer, turn off the tv. Do not let your mind get distracted during your self-date. This is your time to just be with yourself.
  • Being Solo – It’s important that you are on your own. You can talk to strangers, and make new friends, but you are on the self-date to get acquainted with yourself, no one else. If you live with a partner, schedule it so he/she isn’t home, or just take yourself out of the house. If you have kids, find a sitter, or plan around when your kids are not at home. It’s also important to realize that this time is a gift for yourself, and you should only be focused on your well-being.
  • Schedule – Plan how long you would like your dates to last. Set a minimum time, and commit to focus on yourself for at least that time. I typically schedule 2-4 hour dates with myself.
  • Communicate – if you are in a relationship, it’s important to communicate what you are doing and it’s benefits clearly with your partner. Not only do we get their support, but also avoid any misunderstandings or neglect.

Here are some ideas for ‘dates with yourself’. You can intermix several activities below into one date:

  • Reading Date – Go to a trendy café or find a comfortable place at home and read something inspirational for an hour or more. Have some hot herbal tea, cut up some fruits or crackers with cheese. Fully enjoy the experience.




  • Forgiveness & Gratitude Date – Find a comfortable spot. I like to sit on a bench overlooking the water at sunset, or curled up on the couch in my living room table surrounded by candles.
    • Forgive – Write on a journal or loose paper all the things you forgive yourself for. We tend to be very harsh on ourselves, and voluntarily blame ourselves internally for failures, failures of achievement, failures to action, etc. Take this time to forgive yourself for all the harsh things said, for mistreatment of your health, etc.
    • Gratitude – List out all the things in your life you are thankful for. This is my favorite thing to do.
    • Admiration – List out all the things that others admire about you. What are some things they’d say that you are good at or have natural abilities towards? Notice that I wanted you to pretend to be another person looking at yourself. We tend to blank on this question when asking ourselves directly.
  • Musical Date – Take in a live concert after treating yourself to a healthy and satisfying meal. For example, every Thursday, I used to make myself a great raw vegetarian meal and then go to the Symphony. Did you know that you could get cheap single tickets in the first 4 rows? In Seattle, it’s $15 at Seattle Symphony. Most people are not aware of this. It’s not advertised.
    Another idea is going to a jazz club or a show. Talk to strangers when you are there. You’ll find the experience much more rewarding.
  • Yoga or Meditation Date – Take a group yoga or meditation class at a local gym, community center, or temple. I used to do drop in classes at YMCA. They are $10 a class for non-members. After class, jump into the Jacuzzi if there is one. Come home, enjoy a light meal and relax for the evening.
  • Outdoors Date – Go for a long walk in an area that interests you. Go to a park, go camping, go for a long drive. I like to spend an hour on Sundays walking through the ‘pike place’ market (local farmer’s market) with my dog, Tommy. I enjoy seeing all the tourists, fresh produce and the energy in the market. I also like to walk along the waterfront. It’s a good idea to bring a book and some water with you. Wander without rushing.
  • Art & Culture – Go to an art gallery opening or a local museum. In Seattle, we have the art walk the first Thursday of every month where many galleries are open into the night. It’s very festive and inspiring, and I especially enjoy the people watching.

What do you do to center yourself? Let us know in the comments.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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183 thoughts on The Secret to Self Loving

  1. I love your blog, and love how your energy just bursts through the screen! WOW! (Thanks to Holli Jo at Evolving Blueprint for recommending this site.)

    I’ve bookmarked you and plan to become a regular reader. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned! It’s awesome!

  2. Beautiful post, Tina! I can only imagine that I would return to my girlfriend more loving and full of energy after a self-date. Even if I would rather have her participate. Keeping in touch with your own mind and spirit are so vital!

  3. A great post. Julia Cameron talks a great deal about these type of ‘dates’ in her book “The Artist’s Way”. Highly recommended.

  4. Megan,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I appreciate you and your readership. Thanks for making me smile with your words. Love, Tina.

    —–

    Adam, my dear Adam. :) Thank you for your sweet comment. Don’t you go on self-dates every week to your hockey games? I bet that’s pretty centering.

    “Keeping in touch with your own mind and spirit are so vital!” Indeed.

    William Mize,

    Oh really? Cool. I’ve heard about her book.. now I will have to add that book to my shopping cart. “The Artist’s Way”
    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! Much appreciated. :)

  5. love idea of self dating…

  6. I agree… I depended on others for a long time, and now that I have real self-worth, rather than depending on others for my sense of worth, I’m much happier and stronger.

    Funnily enough, my article from yesterday mentioned dates with yourself, too:
    A Simple Way To Strengthen Your Family

  7. GREAT article Tina– I talk a lot about the benefits of spending one full day every couple of months in complete solitude/silence…and this is a wonderful article! keep it up!
    Todd

  8. Simon, hehe.. me too! ‘Self dating’ the concept sounds so much better than being alone.. since the word ‘alone’ implies loneliness… which is not true. We only feel lonely if we choose to. It’s much in our minds.

    —-

    Jason, thanks for commenting. Yes, I saw your article earlier today. I’ve been meaning to comment but you beat me to it. :) Thanks for the link.

    —–

    Hi Todd!

    Thanks for stopping by. “benefits of spending one full day every couple of months in complete solitude/silence” I agree with you. I do full day “dates” with myself periodically.. I call them “Spiritual days” …. I shall talk about them in a later post. I’ve benefited greatly from these days of centering and finding myself. It’s so rewarding that it’s really hard to describe the feeling in words. I can only express the benefits. :)

    Thanks again!

  9. Hi Tina,

    Amazing! This post really resonated with me (but you already know that).

  10. Yes!! I have been doing this lately and it’s awesome! Taking the time to cultivate a healthy relationship with the self is so important yet often overlooked. I like taking walks or bike rides to clear my head and enjoy myself.

    Also, when I’m out in clubs with friends, I’ll leave them for half hour or so and just go off to chill by myself in other parts of the club or go dance.

    I realized that when you are by yourself, you welcome fun adventures with new people that you wouldn’t experience if you were closed off in your routine with old friends.

    When I travel to other countries, I’m surprised at how many people travel alone for months at a time. It’s quite inspiring.

  11. Hi Alex! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I already knew that.. hehehe..

  12. Hi Ryan,

    I hear ya, I feel the same.
    I started traveling by myself about two years ago, last year I spent a month on my own traveling through Tibet. It was a phenomenal experience, and I got to experience so much more because I was on my own. I met all sorts of people, who I wouldn’t have met had I been with a group.

    You said it perfectly here: “when you are by yourself, you welcome fun adventures with new people that you wouldn’t experience if you were closed off in your routine with old friends.”

    Here’s something my friend Lornie said to me at lunch today, which I found to be beautifully expressed, “I’m noticing that the more I understand myself, the more I can understand other people”.

    Have a great one!

  13. Brilliant stuff, Tina, just as all the others said. A self-date! I normally just meditate at home, but will have to try some of your suggestions now. Thanks for the link back.

  14. Chris Sharp

    Tina,
    You’re an inspiration. Thank you for this article. When time is taken deliberately for ourselves, it truly gives us back to ourselves and energizes us. Time passes with ease. Many a master has said that there’s really no one else out there. There’s only you – your own unique version. I agree with your friend Lorraine too. I feel the more we relax inside, we naturally relax in the presence of others – accepting, understanding, and appreciating.
    Thank you once again! – Chris S.

  15. Albert,

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

    —-

    Chris,

    Beautiful comment Chris! I appreciate it. I love how you expressed the topic with “I feel the more we relax inside, we naturally relax in the presence of others – accepting, understanding, and appreciating”

    hmmm… I will note this down. Thank you for that, for your encouraging words and readership. :)

  16. Raj

    Hey lovely ideas! I tried a couple of dates with myself and they worked brilliant! I got much more out of em than I expected, thanx for this lovely article,,,,

  17. Reminds me of the time when something will come up in the conversation that occurred long “before the time” of the person I’m speaking to.
    I’ll preface my comment with “I may be dating myself”, ……and I get these “weird looks”. Cant imagine why…
    Just how DO you get $15 seats in the first four rows?
    Could this be arranged even in L.A.?

  18. Raj, thank you for the comment and kind words. :)

    —–

    Hiya Todd, you are so funny. I buy my tickets online for the Seattle Symphony, this way there’s the interactive seating charts, you can mouseover, see what’s available and it’s price.

    Most people assume that tickets will be most expensive at the front, so they skip looking at the front completely. What people typically do is look at the prices in the middle area, and then at the back or balconies, and then find the cheapest tickets at the back.

    For symphonies, some of the ‘music snobs’ may say that the sound is not the best at the very front and you are too close to the symphony musicians. This is why the most expensive tickets for symphonies starts at row 5 and moves towards the middle of the room. I can’t tell the difference between rows 3 and 6 and am happy to save $50. My goal for going isn’t to listen for mistakes, but rather to be with the music and being present.

    Anyways, with that knowledge at hand, some symphonies will sell off the first four rows for super discounted prices equivalent to back of the room. You should check if you guys have that in LA. Lemme know!

  19. Hello Tina:

    I like the fact that your suggestions are practical and action oriented. I am a serial reflector. There is, however, a massive difference between solitude and loneliness IMHO

  20. thanks a lot! :) I’m currently passing a difficult time, figuring out about my relationships (my boyfriend and friends), my life, myself…this really helps, I’ll start this weekend! again, thanks :)

  21. Dear Tina:
    It would be good if you could respond to a comment, rather than just have all comments go at the bottom sequentially. Because I’m responding to the concert comment, it doesnt look as “flowing” down here. If you’re familiar with the 43things.com website, it has the ability to “respond to this” as it relates to comments.
    I never knew “mouseover” was a verb. I guess I’m “dating myself” again.
    I’ll check and see if L.A. has interactive concert online seating. Yes, the Walt Disney Concert Hall does have this.
    I guess I was thinking you were referring to the “standing room only” tickets that you can get right before the show starts.

  22. Todd,

    Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion for ‘response to this’. I will add that on my master todo list and find a solution to it. :) You’re awesome!

    —–

    Fran, Thank you for reading. I’m glad the article is able to contribute in some way to your life.

  23. Subash Tamang

    Great Article!
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful self-improvements words. I much appreciate it.
    Thanks

  24. Hi Tina,
    this is my first visit here, and I am loving your writing (have added to my feed reader, will be back).

    This post in particular hit home with me. I am always encouraging other women to take care of themselves so they can be more available for everyone else that demands their time. But sometimes, I forget to do it myself! I love your ideas – especially the one about the Symphony. I haven’t gone to a live concert in years (since I had kids, I guess) and that is something I used to love to do. I’m going to look into what is available here… hopefully we have something similar for front row seats here in Australia.

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