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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. tom

    Its not even that self dating is needed but more importantly. In 30 days, a year, 5 years, when you stand in front of that mirror, disappointed with your progress, who are you answering to?

    YOU!!!

  2. Gail

    I sure liked this post. I have learned a lot about spending time with myself, and enjoying it, but this really added another dimension. I am ready for a date with myself right now! :) Thanks.
    Gail

  3. Hi Tina,

    I ‘discovered’ your blog from a link at Derek Sivers’ post ( http://sivers.org/make-you-happy ). Your words of wisdom intrigued me. I’ve only followed your blog for a short time but it quickly become one that I visit every day! Just love your ‘lively’ writing style and the presentation of the website – photos and all – IMHO are brilliant.

    This is an excellent post, very practical and actionable too. Just realized that I’ve been doing this ‘self-date’ thing without calling it that… they’ve made me a much happier man and a better husband for sure!

    Keep up the good work Tina!

    Andre

  4. Laura

    Tina, wonderful post! You should take a class on positive psychology once – I think it would help you broaden your experiences even more. I guess I’m just curious how often you recommend holding these dates with ourselves?

  5. Tina, fantastic, positive suggestions that prepare us for being the right person.

    BUT IF I MAY…..as I think about one of your blogs that had to do with being careful and responsible about the words we use (I can’t recall the name of it, but very often apply it!), I want to apply those thoughts to something you said in the beginning of this blog.

    Quote: “I found myself in numerous relationships for the wrong reasons and ended up settling in ill-fitting ‘partnerships’”

    Again, inspired by your thinking, I thought of how I have said to myself things like, “That relationship was a mistake,” or “She was not a good choice,” etc. The truth is, at those points, those were CHOICES, NOT MISTAKES. To call them “mistakes” or as you said, “wrong reasons” may very well be a subtle form of excuse and relieving yourself of responsibility (not to say you were doing that).

    As I look back on those “mistakes,” I now realize that they were choices. They may not have been great choices, but they were my choices. I must take that responsibility.

    Also, at those points in my life, I felt that they were good choices. Which says to me that at those points, I was only able to “see” what I ended up choosing. Our “reasons” back then may look inadequate now, but back then, they reflected WHO WE WERE.

    May I also suggest that each of should take a look at those relationships that were painful, “mistakes” and “wrong reasons” and begin to appreciate and be grateful for any good that there was (yes, there was good). This also means the good in that ex!

    This brings us freedom from the baggage and negative energy that we have felt (and very well may still feel inside) about those relationships and people. Being grateful and appreciative puts us into a wonderfully positive and powerful energy flow, therefore, making us more attractive!

    A good test would be to consider old relationships and just allow yourself to feel those feelings, especially in your body (probably right in the stomach). If you feel “negative” about those thoughts, we’re talking baggage and that baggage is still speaking and demanding that it be satisfied!

    Once you go through the process of being grateful, etc., it’s a sweet and peaceful feeling (“I’ve got a peacful easy feeling….”).

    Hey….thanks…for always being authentic and direct.

    Philip

  6. @Philip

    Hi Philip, what you said is really beautiful and so true! While I know that my past that I am not proud of were the results of choices, I haven’t really articulated that way before, so thank you for showing me this perspective.

    @Laura

    How often to go on self dates? As often as you need! Listen to your body. If you feel that your confidence is low or isn’t feeling your best, maybe a week of consecutive self-dates is right for you. I do these periodically in chunks. I am currently doing two weeks of consecutive self-dates while my husband is away on a work trip. Self-dates doesn’t mean that you need to go “out”. It’s about creating time for yourself, and doing whatever that pleases you.

  7. Funny how the self dates thing was not my focus at all; Now it is. The reason is that it will be my birthday Sunday and besides my kids and people at work (all our birthdays are on a calendar), I’m not sure if anyone else knows it is. I have a lot of dance friends and I just don’t know if they know. I simply will not drop a hint.

    One lady at work has asked me twice now what I’m going to do. My response is “What would I do?” I said that in a way that said that I’m not supposed to do anything in that it’s usually someone else taking you out or whatever.

    I think my reaction and what I felt inside reveals to me that if no one does offer to do something for me, I’d better plan to.

    Perhaps I need to learn something here. I guess I could think of something I’d like to do for me. Funny, I don’t want to have to do that….wow…is this a learning process or what?

    Thanks all for listening

    p.s. I just thought some something that happened back Freshman year in College (March 1971…do the math). A custom started in our dorm floor that if it was your birthday, you got shoved into the shower. I’m a pretty big guy and I said that no one was going to shove me into the shower. What happened? I was ignored! That hurt! The attention would have been nice…that custom never happened again. Wow…haven’t thought of that for 30 years…..

    Thanks again

  8. Jason

    When are you getting a book together Tina? It would be very popular.

  9. Alex

    You know being happy alone is great. I was once there,but the question that leads me here do you think to want a relationship to be lonely? I’ve never had a relationship so it feels like I’m lying to myself when I go alone, because I like forget about the desire I’m so into myself when I go alone, that is why Im not so great alone anymore becuase I never had one so I feel worthless now that I want(lonley)?

    Do you think the fake relationship is the one that wanted eachother for something or the real one would be who just gives and asks nothing of eachother? Maybe I should stop this desire now and be happy where I am now becuase its just a part of the egos game to fill the bottomless pit.

    So it begs the question all in a nutshell do you think to be alone is just lying to yourself becuase lonliness is desire, aloneness is consequentally forgetting about the desire, becuase in my case it would since I never had one?

    Don’t get me wrong Aloneness is great you escape from the world really you don’t care about what one thinks of you, you forget your past.Fantastic article, But a practical Illusion?

    Thanks Tina

  10. eva

    Megan,
    right now I’m in the situation which you’ve been through in this article. Reading this article or yours is like reading my own journal :)
    You give great advices for me to aplly, but how do you minimize the sadness and the emptiness that used to fill by the significant other?
    I know I was in a relationship for a wrong reason but the feeling of losing someone is still hurt.

  11. bill

    Can I put out to myself or would that be trampy? I was thinking about giving myself up to myself on the first date.

  12. Tina,
    What an awesome post. I always thought its important to have time for one’s self but never think about the different kinds of dates we can do.

    Thanks for these thoughts.

  13. Youa

    Tina,
    Thanks for the great post. I think it is so important to have date night for yourself and I do it all the time. For me, since I’m still in school, after a quarter is over I will treat myself to an all day spa day where it’s all about me. It’s so amazing what one day of being with yourself can help recharge your energy and boost your confidence. :)

  14. The “self-dates” you talk about.. I would call those “self introspect sessions” or “creation sessions” or brainstorm sessions. I completely agree with you on how important those blocks of time are. :)

  15. SMR

    Timely article!! When I really want to live mentally independent on others for my happiness and motivation.. I would like to be with myself always instead of expecting others to understand, appreciate, love, support me… I want to stop expecting this from others and in turn I want to do these things to others .. I want an ever-lasting motivation and strength always comes from within myself..

  16. Rohani

    I am struggling with the same thing – afraid of loneliness. i gave up
    my job and so many things which i don’t know why. I feel I am never there till i find that man whom i will share my life with. Can someone teach me how to shrug that very deep-rooted feeling that you have to
    be two before you can find peace? Help me.

  17. saruul

    As others said thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. I totally agree with you. For the last 10 years I was always unhappy and did not know why. Recently I found the answer. I was just unhappy with myself and understood that in order to be more understanding of others and more loving toward myself and others I need to understand myself, love myself and forgive.

  18. Gabriela

    Hey, so I’ve recently begun finding myself and I’m having booming success. Every morning and every night, after a nice walk or run, I set aside 20-30 minutes to practice metta meditation. Its the most relaxing way to think about yourself with loving, kind, respectful, and happy emotions. Through metta one learns to cultivate a nearly tangible love sheild over themselves and then extend it to other people through positive, loving thoughts. I highly reccomend that you research this excersize, learn it, practice it. I promise it will be the best decision you\’ll ever make. Well, maybe not the best, but once you start practicing it regularly you will notice how much happier you are with yourself, how much kinder you become, and more confident you feel. the key is to take it seriously and focus. After my very first session I began feeling the benefits of metta. The serenity, confidence and joy came to me right away. Also, to boost my confidence, i use little tricks. i look in the mirror everyday and say out loud to myself, ten times: “I am a confident, happy, lovable girl” (you can change the words to suit your prefferences, thats just what I like to hear) When you hear yourself say something everyday, you begin beleive it. Once a day i\’ll sing a little rhyme to my reflection: “Look in the mirror and what do I see? A beautiful girl staring back at me! ‘Oh, wow!’ I thought, ‘Who could that be?’ Oh! :) it’s most deffinately me!” :)
    you can write them on a notecard and keep them posted on your window as a little reminder.
    I hope this helps some of you find out that true happiness comes from within yourself. So stop searching for something thats been with you all along and start feelin’ the love.

  19. This is so important to remember each and everyday!

    Thanks!

  20. Giang Nguyen

    Another exceptional post, Tina! I really like the idea of “a date with yourself”, it’s much like “Artist’s Date” in The Artist’s Way :).

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