Spending time alone doesn't have to feel lonely—in fact, it can be liberating. Michael Eason shares how to embrace one-on-one time with the most important person in your life; yourself

With February’s reputation as the month of love, it’s not uncommon for those without a partner or not in a relationship to feel a little excluded—especially on Valentine's Day. However, in the midst of this emphasis on “that special someone” in our lives, it’s important not to forget the most significant person in our lives: ourselves.

Here are three ways to treat ourselves with the same care and compassion that we would bestow upon a significant other.

View solitude as an opportunity for self-growth

While many people find it very difficult to be alone, in actuality this is all a matter of perspective. You can reframe time alone as an opportunity to engage in activities that are meaningful to you. For example, yoga or meditation, cooking, learning a new language or some form of art or craft. The opportunities for solo activities are truly endless-try a few and see if any bring you joy.

See also: The Loneliness Epidemic Is Real—Here's How To Fight It

Refocus on the relationships that matter

While you may or may not have a romantic partner at this moment, perhaps try looking into your larger family and/or social circle for relationships that could use a bit of nurturing. Start by enriching these existing relationships and then the positive interactions you receive will provide the burst of confidence needed to begin pursuing new relationships or friendships.

This ripple effect happens because friends may reflect positive qualities in ourselves that we might otherwise fail to recognise; sometimes we simply need others to hold up a proverbial mirror for us to truly see our own worth.

Know that you are not alone

Millions of others out there are either single, or in relationships so unhappy that they actually wish they were still single. Don’t fall into the cognitive trap of believing that you are cursed in love or inferior in any way; life’s journey just proceeds differently and at different speeds for each individual.

Have some trust in yourself, and in the universe, that whatever is happening in your life at this particular stage is precisely what’s meant to happen in order for the next chapter to begin.

Perhaps the notion of a “soul mate” is pure fantasy, perpetuated by films, television, and romance novels and songs. However, if there truly is one person that we’re “stuck with” for life, it’s ourselves. So this month, consider deepening that one relationship that is really inescapable by working towards greater love and compassion towards self.

Also it’s important to keep in mind that practicing the art of loving (towards others and towards self) need not be confined to the month of February; it’s a way of life that we can practice year-round. If you find that social anxiety or feelings of sadness may be holding you back from meaningful engagement with those around you, consider speaking with a professional therapist for advice. 

Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practicing at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong. 

See also: How To Make And Break New Habits In The New Year 

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