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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. Great ideas. My experience is that incorporating this philosophy even when married, if not especially when married, is one of the healthiest things you can do for long term fulfillment. Thanks for leading the charge!

  2. Hi Tina. I found your blog yesterday and I really love this article. I’ve had similar experiences with self-love as well. I find that when I am truly loving to myself and giving myself what I need, the world sings my song with me. Otherwise, my life is in total chaos when I act in hateful ways toward myself. It’s true that you have better relationships when you are loving towards youself. As my mentor Dr. Cherry would say, “You can’t give anyone else what you don’t have to give to yourself.”

  3. divinespiritlove

    Thank you for posting this article. I also try hard to work on loving self and this article helps tremendously. My appreciation to you is in the highest sense.
    To show you my gratitude I would like to share with you a post I found that also helps with this: It explains how being unconditional loving to self is understanding how and why relationships outside yourself are a reflection of how you love yourself.
    Thank you indeed. I hope it helps you and others who read this as much as this post of yours as helped, please keep up the incredible work in helping others!

  4. jd

    Hey Tina –

    I won’t ask how your dates went, but I’ll assume you really clicked well ;)

    It sounds like you’ve found the power of self-assurance.

    Here’s an interesting bit of trivia
    – people that like themselves … like those that like them
    – people that don’t like themselves … don’t like those that like them (after all, if you don’t like you, you can’t imagine how anybody could like you)

    This explains why some people have a pattern of bad relationships — they haven’t learned to like themselves first. My philosophy is, you have to learn to be your own best friend first and foremost, since you’re pretty much the one you’re there with, through thick and through thin, you’re entire life — guaranteed!

  5. jenn

    thank you for the multiple date ideas! i think that soon i am going to make myself a healthy meal and see the symphony, alone. it will take some getting used to, but it really does sound really great. your blog is excellent; keep up the exceptional work! thanks.

  6. Lauren

    A self date might be fun, if one actually had a choice about whether to date alone or with a partner. For those of us who have nobody with whom to date, its just another way to feel pathetic and lonely.

  7. katie

    I’m starting to think that lack of love for myself is affecting my relationships.

  8. Kat


    I love your blog! I’ve got it in my account, but I just happened to StumbleUpon this particular article.

    The more I read of this article, the more I realized that I’d done so many “self-dates” unconsciously, even if it meant just going to one of my favorite places: a bookstore or the library.

    I remember also doing this before meeting my current bf. I’d go eat a good Chinese dinner then hit the theater for a cool flick. Then I’d hit the bookstores or the library, or just head home. It was a necessary respite from the drudgery of the job I was in.

    I am also writing more in my paper-n-pen journals as a way to reconnect with myself and to get emotional junk off my chest before bedtime. Much as I love my LiveJournal blogs (those I write in without thought for advertising or financial gain), I only have so many hours on my parents’ computer. I sleep much better with a paper-n-pen journal or two (including a dream notebook for recording those wild and wacky sojourns through Dreamtime).

    Thank you for a magnificent reminder to love ourselves as we love others. ;-)

    I am sooo putting you on my Dining with the Divine blogroll.

    Brightest Blessings,
    Kat ^.^

  9. Tina,,,, while reading , i picked up a pen and paper,,, i wrote the answers in my own language,, it bring me little relief,,, i admit i keep myself worried,, and this article helped me see that i need go easy on myself from time to time, and i have to love myself,, thanks blogger,,,, i will read new blogs and hopefully will get a good result in my life,,,, for those who believe in god ,,, pray for me thnks

  10. The irony of this article is that I spend the majority of my time alone. I left my family and home and displaced myself in order to learn new things and focus. There were to many commitments when I lived by my family and friends. Unfortunately, I don’t trust anyone and I believe I have good friends on the other side of the world so I don’t make any here. Honestly, I feel lonely and find myself interacting with phones & computers more than people.
    The few people that I do know (mostly because I live with them) I don’t like. I just tolerate them. When I give them a little bit of sense of who I am, they patronize me because they are insecure. So I just ignore them and do my work, because they don’t care to understand and don’t have my respect anyway.
    Is there something wrong with this logic?

  11. Dear Tina,

    Thank you very much for these beautiful and wise advices, thoughts and website.
    Now I’ve decided to change the estrategy to achive my goals to be happy on my own, and to achive them I will put all my efforts to accept and love myself the way I am and trust myself too.

    I know for sure that I will succeed in a near future, because from now on I’m feeling happier than ever even with problems and my doubts, but I’ll try living this moment, the now and change my mind.

    Have a nice week!

    (regards from Holland)

  12. Hi Tina,

    This is the first time i visit your blog.I came here through the illuminatedmind blog.
    Excellent post and beautiful ideas.
    Everyone needs their personal time to be spent alone.
    Unless you accept yourself,you will lose your self-esteem and confidence.
    Self awareness and analysis of strengths and weaknesses would help one in achieving personal excellency.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Best Wishes,
    Kannan Viswagandhi

  13. Deming

    Wow, that was great! I really enjoyed that. Not only would this be helpful to me, but to my Mom. She works 13 hours a day and takes care of my Grandfather and never has time for herself. I’ll suggest these things to her! Thank you!

  14. Dan

    Very well written, I truly enjoyed it. I recognize a lot of things in myself that are described in this article that I need to work on. I also, as some have stated above become more dependent on other people for my own self-worth and such and realize this is something I need to recognize and deal with in order to ensure i can have a positive relationship with others that will be sustainable. Job well done. It’s nice to see I can find practical information on the Internet still and not just garbage! Site bookmarked!

  15. LaTisha

    Beautiful piece, this is exactly what I was looking for. I needed something to help recharge my internal energy source and this was it. Thank you for the suggestions and keep up the great work. God bless

  16. Your words are wise!

    The difficulty comes when you try to find yourself and who you are within the other person of a relationship. Relationships are designed for each individual to look within and see more there then what was originally thought. Most people put so much imprecise on the relationship that they forget to go within Self to determine what is true for them and in doing so they make the other person in control of how they feel, what they are willing to see, and how to define who they are. The relationship then becomes about what the other person thinks, says, and does rather then what you think, feel, and say about yourself. The greatest experience and purpose in all of life is to decide and choose who you are but most people leave that deciding to the people they are in a relationship with. It becomes an obsession of needing relationships to determine who you are.

    The solution to this dilemma is to have a relationship first with yourself. The challenge for most people is when they ask the question, “who am I?” and try to get to know themselves from that starting question then they are confronted with a endless possibility of infinite hugeness. That question is so infinitely enormous that the answer cannot be found, save to identify with the saying “I am that I am”. Consequently, the way past this challenge is to begin to move your consciousness and focus within yourself. Know who you are from the inner core of yourself. Ask the question, “who do I choose to be?” and get to know the greatest parts of you, identify within you the essentials that people call compassion, happiness, confidence, wisdom, and sharing. Choose to be the empowering states like the spiritual, inspiring, patient, gentleness, magnificence, and most important of all discover the place inside you that accepts and loves you for everything that you are.

  17. David

    My outdoors time is spent cycling. Great reflective time and stress reducer. Legs know what to do, and blood flow makes the brain work better. Clarity comes easier.

    Thanks for the article, Emma. Good stuff.

  18. Ive just moved to Auckland from Toronto, and often feel at loose ends; bored. Your ideas for self-dates is also a wonderful collection of suggestions for being in a new city by yourself. Thankyou! I plan on doing these as much as possible starting … tomorrow! Thank you =)

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