Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.com
Most relationships are founded on a curious fantasy: that you can be happy in a couple when you weren’t happy alone. It doesn’t add up, and it never works out. Instead of growing in happiness, we magnify each other’s insecurities.
The only solution is to become so secure in yourself that you don’t need another person to feel whole — then you can love unconditionally. Here’s how I did it.
I was the classic hopeless romantic for the first half of my adulthood. I was depressed without a girlfriend, ecstatic with one — for the first month — and then increasingly miserable until the inevitable split. I unconsciously used women for the fulfillment I hadn’t given myself, and I repeated the process until I was borderline suicidal.
After breaking up with my last live-in girlfriend, I hit rock bottom: depression, despair, and desolation. The pain was unbearable, so I made the radical decision to stay single until I was happy with me. I needed to break the cycle before it broke me for good.
By focusing on my single self over the past few years, I’ve identified and satisfied the needs that had sent me scrambling for lover after lover. Now I find security in knowing myself, in constantly improving myself, and in helping others to succeed in life and love. Because I committed to being secure in myself, I’m a whole man.
I used to think a woman was the only way I could be happy. But after crashing and burning so many times, I realized I was wrecking my life with insecure relationships. So I did something different. I began a daily journaling and affirmation practice, and I committed to making the most of each day. I discovered the career of my dreams, and I focused so intently on developing as an individual that I forgot about looking for another person. I no longer needed a woman to feel whole.
I found my success, my happiness, and myself. You can, too.
Here’s why going solo for a year will help
A year is a big commitment. It’s a sacrifice too. But in the grand scheme, you’ll earn back dividends in happiness and wealth. Besides, if you can’t commit to knowing and loving yourself better for one year, what makes you think you have what it takes to commit to someone else for the rest of your life?
If you practice positive affirmations, planning your day, and journaling, your singleness will become so valuable that you won’t trade it for anything short of unconditional love. But until you have that security in yourself, you’ll continue to fall for the wrong people. Just like I did.
So, focus on being your best self.
If you’re ready, start today. And if you’re not ready, get ready. This is your happiness we’re talking about; this is your one and only life. So mark it on the calendar: one year of being single, starting today. One year of becoming the expert of you, of providing for your own needs, of fulfilling yourself, of overcoming your insecurities, of finding your calling. One year of living your life to the fullest.
Think of all the people who die without ever having fully lived or loved. What will your life look like in 10 years if you don’t take this year to be whole?
Are you ready now? Good.
Here’s all you have to do:
1. Start your day with affirmations.
Your first thoughts of the day pave the way for the second, third, 34th, 87th, and so on. Make those waking thoughts empowering — focus on things like how capable, confident, useful, valuable, worthy, kind, generous, dependable, independent, happy, joyful, adventurous, bold, secure, and loving you are.
Pump yourself up with positive affirmations, especially when you’re feeling low.
People’s entire lives are disrupted because they lose track of their thoughts, which become their words, actions, habits, and destiny. Whatever it is that you need or want to be, affirm that before you roll out of bed. Then build on those thoughts for the rest of the day.
If you don’t actively choose positive affirmations, your subconscious will take over with preprogrammed statements — which are usually negative. So flood yourself with conscious encouragement from morning to night. Change your thoughts; change your relationships; change your life.
2. Plan your day.
Each morning, write down what you need to do to be the best version of you. After your affirmations, reflect on what you can accomplish to excel in your profession, your hobbies, and your personal development. Make a list, then tackle those items throughout your day, checking them off as you accomplish, congratulating yourself on your effort, and encouraging yourself along the way.
If you find yourself in doubt of what to write down, go back to the basic human needs: health/fitness, happiness, security, doing what you love, feeling proud of what you do, making a difference to other people, providing for yourself, etc.
Come up with the challenges that will bring out the best in you; that way, you won’t look for someone else to do your job.
3. Reflect on your day with a journal.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”–Socrates
I’ll paraphrase that: An unexamined life is not worth sharing. So examine yours with a journal.
Spend 15 to 30 minutes every evening reflecting on your day: what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve excelled, where you’ve faltered, what you can do better tomorrow, what you’ve thought, what you’ve felt, why you thought and felt that way, and how much effort you gave.
Documenting your life in a journal will help you to accept yourself despite your mistakes; it will give you the awareness to change limiting thoughts and behaviors. Journaling puts you back in charge of your own life for the price of a pen, a notepad, and a little self-discipline.
(Read this article for a crash course on journaling)
If you’re tired of settling for wimpy, needy relationships — if you’re ready for grown-up love — it’s time to invest in your life. Take a year to become secure in yourself, to love your life, and to focus on sharing your talents for a better world.
Discover yourself in your journal. Reveal the best you with daily affirmations. And take charge of your life by planning your days.
You won’t regret it.