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The Secret to Self Loving

Photo by emma

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. Hi Karen,

    Aww.. thank you so much. It makes me very happy knowing you connected with the article. I know what you mean, I too forget sometimes. Part of why I write is to remind myself… :)

    I look forward to seeing you around here again. :) Take care!


    Hi Subash,

    Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m smiling right now. Thank You!

  2. Hey, those are really cool ideas! I have wanted to do some of those for quite some time, but didn’t really have the opportunity to. I did spend time with myself though a few times, and it was the most amazing moment of my life! Hehe! Great post! =)

  3. Glynes

    When I had my own business, and could schedule my own time, I always took Monday’s off. The morning was time to do errands; in the afternoon I took myself to a movie at the two-for-$2 second-run theater. A couple of hotdogs, popcorn and a Coke, and most Monday matinees I was there by myself, so I’d pretend it was a private screening just for me. I saw some great movies, and on the way home, I always stopped at a little flower stand (owned by an actor who used to appear in the old Perry Mason shows!) and treat myself to a bouquet. I really miss those lovely ‘just-me’ afternoons!

  4. Oh Glynes,

    That’s so sweet! Thank you for sharing. You’re a great story teller. :)
    Reading what you wrote, I felt as if I was right there with you.. and it reminded me of my own ‘just-me’ afternoons. I do the flowers as well periodically at the farmer’s market as I’m walking my dog on Sundays. :)

    Thank you for commenting. It made me smile.


    Hiya Frolicsome kid, :)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Saintly


    A fascinating subject, I have given alot of thought to over the last week or so in this very subject of loving yourself.

    I find it hard to Love myself, I used to think I was a great bloke until I started to look at myself & realised there is much room for improvement. Looking in the mirror is also something I don’t enjoy. I’m working on loving myself though.

    I stumbled on your website by accident. Anyhow, I have added it my favourites now, many thanks for your articles, I’m looking forward reading & learning more in the future.

    Isn’t it amazing, the more we know, the more we realise how much we don’t know & how much more there is to know, we will never know everything !!!


    Love, Light & Life


    P.S Any tips I can get on loving myself would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Hi Saintly,

    Thank you for your sweet message. I appreciate it very much.

    >I used to think I was a great bloke until I started to look at myself

    You are still a great bloke I’m sure. We all have things we can improve on and recognizing that is the first step towards any positive change right? So you really should pat yourself in the pack for being aware of improvements.

    >Looking in the mirror is also something I don’t enjoy.

    I took a class on relationships earlier this year and the instructor said something that stuck with me: Each and everyone of our face is a unique and beautiful piece of artwork. If we don’t appreciate it, then we are offending those who do.

    When we fall in love with ourselves, it’ll seem as if the world falls in love with us too.

    Thanks for your suggestion. I will be doing more articles on the topic. :)

    Indeed, like traveling…the more we learn, the more we realize how much more there is to learn. It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

    Love & Gratitude,

  7. How wonderfully healthy. I think I spend so much time mad at myself for screwing up, that it might be nice, every once in a while, to forgive myself and do something nice. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. Before we can love others at all
    We need to love ourselves first
    We simply have to heed the inner call
    Before we can try to quench our thirst

  9. Sharad

    Dear Tina,
    All your life we have been running around feeding & fulfiling a wish or dream for someone dear to you.At times I have found myself miles away from what I always wished.
    Your article is a step towards your own self.
    You will hear from me someday soon, I hope to share my own experience with myself.

  10. Tina:

    I read this article with a mix of admiration and excitement. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to nurture our souls in loving ways so that we can to out and face the world in a calm, centered manner. Great article!

  11. This is really good article. “dates with myself” is new and beautiful .

  12. Daniel Alderman – Hi! Thank you for sharing. I too get made at myself for screwing up at times.. it’s so instinctive.. or rather habitual. When we realize that nothing good can come out of getting mad at ourselves, that’s when it becomes easier to change.
    So the question now is, “What have you done for yourself lately?” :)

    Thank you for contributing!

    Hi Sharad,

    Thanks for sharing your 2cents.
    We hope to see you here again soon. :)

    Stephen Hopson: Thank you for the thoughtful and beautifully written comment. I’m a big fan of yours and I’m honored that you’ve stopped by. :)

    Thank you Alkawther. Thanks for visiting.

  13. Having a ‘date with myself’ sounds really sad and lonesome. It makes a person sound like a ‘Billy No Mates’. However, you really make it sound appealling and suggest how beneficial it can be. In this modern world so much of our time is given to other people and other things that we have very little quality time to ourself. Even when we do get time for ourself, we seem to have little idea what to do with that time! Your post provides sound ideas for what to do in the time.
    Thank you for this insightful and informative post


  14. Hi,

    This is an awesome post! It’s REALLY important to find out who we are. If we never do self-dates the chances of figuring this out drop considerably. Because of self-dates I have discovered who I am (learning more every time). It feels so good to know this =) It’s a priceless sense of peace =) Cool that you are promoting this concept to the world….


  15. Douglas Woods:

    Hi, I loved reading your comment. It started off as if you were about to tip the topic, and then you came back to the route of the article. Cliff hanger! I like that. :) I agree completely and I appreciate you visiting our little spot here on the web.


    I love your name by the way, reminded me of a lady I saw in nepal who sold something to me, she did the Namaste with such grace and heart that she instantly touched my soul. I can still see it vividly.

    I agree that it is a priceless sense of peace after having a deeper understanding of yourself.

    I’m really happy that the concept of “self-dates” has been well received. I just followed my heart and flowed with the words. :)

    Thanks for your thoughtful words.

  16. Some of my “best practices” whether in a relationship or whether going it alone, have developed out of deep and profound desire to simply have a joyful, happy, healthy, abundant, prosperous and positively eventful life. I am here to be of service to others but not at the expense of myself. In relationships we sometime forget about our own personal needs and then we begin to see the other person as a burden. You can only give away what you have inside.

    Some key factors for me are practicing radical humility, perpetuating random acts of kindness whenever and wherever possible and remembering to be gentle with myself as well as with others, no matter what the circumstances may be. These are admittedly learned behaviors as I was not raised in an environment that embraced or applied the natural laws of the Universe. I had to learn them one step at a time and learn to recognize and embrace the things that were working and the things that weren’t. Then I had to learn the art of letting go. It wasn’t always easy coming from an environment and many years of experiences where I passed everything by the committee for review and approval instead of just making my own decisions and going for it. I have learned to choose to believe what I believe because of my own experiences and expectations and not because of the perceptions of others. This was a radical departure, trust me. This also was and is an act that takes courage and to some degree mental retraining for most of us, but it can be done.

    Since everything begins with the energy of a thought…there are 4 joy killers one must know, accept and understand if you want to avoid an unbalanced and unhappy life. No other person and no relationship can “fix” this for you. You have to choose it and apply it on your own.

    1.) Choosing to dwell on what’s missing in your life as opposed to practicing gratitude for the many blessings in your life each and every day.

    With my first cup of coffee each morning, I begin by taking a few deep breathes. I take mental notes of all the things that are right and good in my life and I offer thanks to the Universe for those things. It really sets the tone for a wonderful and blessed day.

    2.) Complaining and whining about how you’ve been prevented from having or doing the things you’d like to have and do.

    It is simplistic but true…but if you choose to dwell on lack, you will manifest more lack. If you choose to believe in scarcity, then scarcity will show up. Your thoughts are the most significant and most powerful indicators of how your life will show up.

    3.)Choosing to cultivate inner thoughts of yourself as a person who is unworthy or just plain unlucky are extreme joy killers.

    Change your mind, change your life.

    and last but certainly not least…

    4.)Choosing to accept limitations (self-imposed or otherwise) as your reality.

    I have learned to create and establish my own value and do not depend upon relationships with other people to determine this factor. I had a lot of resistance from close friends and family when I began this cycle of change but I soon realized that this was part of the evolution. I had to “let some people go” and that was okay because truly I understood that we had come to the end of serving each other and it was time to move on. Some people have come back to my circle, some have not. I’ve embraced that wholly.

    A couple of other thoughts to help in overcoming these 4 challenges mentioned above are: select a handful of positive affirmations that you repeat over and over and over until they become automatic subconscious thought. In the beginning I had trouble believing my own new thoughts, so I was led to purchase a deck of oracle cards called “Messages from the Angels” by Dr. Doreen Virtue. I used those cards 5, 6, 10, 20 times a day to help me reprogram my thinking and to help me overcome the cycle of the self-defeating, negative messages I was giving myself. Before long, I didn’t need the cards to drum up the positive messages when I needed them, I could just instigate the thought and the words flashed in my mind like a billboard. Some even came with “pictures” produced by..yep, you guessed it…me! :) I found this tool very useful. I still do. I also evaluated and ended some relationships that weren’t good for me which subsequently led the way to start some new ones with people who were in alignment with my “new thinking”. I read book after book and perused website after website until I got my inner self back on track. Anyone can do this. There are also lots of places to connect with and meet new people or to just take some classes to get your mind off of things. I did this and before you know the old stuff didn’t even cross my mind at all. It was such a huge relief to be back in alignment with my true authentic self. This is an ongoing process though. It isn’t something you can do once and its good for life. Just as we take our cars to the shop for repair we also have to do maintenance to keep them preforming at optimum levels. Our minds are no different.

    I think that we should all be able to do these things as single people and that we should be able to carry these practices over into our relationships. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we get bogged down with the wants and needs of others so much so that we forget to continue just being ourselves. I believe this is why so many relationships do not work out. It is important to find like minded people who understand the power of still being an individual while also enjoying being a couple.

    And as Rumi says:

    “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep.”

    Awaken the sleeping giant inside and discover a whole new you. Live big. Live exuberant. Live like there’s no tomorrow. You are Divine, you are wonderful, you are marvelous. You are miraculous. Remember that, no matter who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve been through and don’t let anyone or anything rob you of your Divine right to living a happy, joyful, harmonious life..

    and to that end..I’d like to leave with a quote from Neale Donald Walsch from “New Revelations, A Conversation With God”. He says, “There’s no such thing as right or wrong, there’s only what works and what doesn’t”. Think about that.

    Have a blessed day!


  17. Oh Roby,

    This is FANTASTIC! What you wrote is a post in itself. I should have you on as a guest writer. I really love how you broke down the blockers into 4 Joy Killers. When it’s broken down and laid out clearly, the concept suddenly becomes incredibly simple to digest and practice. I’d love to hear more from you. We can take this off line. :)

    Love ya!

  18. A lovely post Tina and I totally agree with where your are coming from.

    We can only really give that which we truly feel within us, can’t we?… and so it’s in embracing the Love within that we actually give our greatest gift to the world.

    You are a great gift Tina. Thank you.

  19. This is truly a powerful article. Most people would not think like this but it is the answer to their unhappiness. Thanks!

  20. Thanks for the link back to your lovely post. Wise words

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