Loving themselves is something men are known for but in reality bad at. Behind the bravado of arrogance is often an individual craving love with no idea how to get in a healthy way. Our culture tells us that ‘love’ is not something which men need and are incapable of giving. But the cravings of our own heart tell us otherwise. This leads men to forms patterns of dysfunction; unable to process their own emotion, objectifying women and a lack of depth in relationships.
This speaks of my own story. Like many of us, the pains of my childhood are numerous. A lifetime of experiences had caused me to expect rejection. Finding validation, attention and ultimately love consumed by behaviour. On the outside, I was confident and capable, but internally I was plagued by emotional inconsistency and a deep seeded fear of rejection.
I knew I had to change. I knew that the only way of changing was to intentionally change my behaviour. It is true that our behaviours are formed by our beliefs. But I also believe that as we make actions towards our desired goal, our mindsets shift towards it. As I started to look after myself, mind, body and soul, my internal world started to align. As I developed consistent practices my emotions started to become consistent. I grew in compassion for myself and love become the predominant force in my life.
Here are some of the practices I developed to love myself, I suggest you give them a try, particularly if you’re a guy.
1// a good nights sleep
It is no fun for any of us when we have not had a good nights sleep. When we consistently do not get a 6-8hours sleep it has a huge negative impact on mental and emotional capacities.
Love your body, your mind, and your emotions by giving them enough sleep.
2// eat well
As much as I wish we could, we cannot survive from fried chicken alone. We must give our bodies the nutrition they deserve. For me, I try to avoid process carbs like bread and pasta and I overload on vegetables and protein (particularly chicken and fish). I have noticed that when I’m eating good, I am a more compassionate person, towards myself and others.
Love yourself by giving it the nutrition it needs.
Oh, and drink plenty of water.
3// priorities what gives you energy
In other words, give your energy to what you love. We will always feel better about ourselves when we are doing what we were born for. I have written myself a vision statement. I use this statement as a guide when making decisions about how I use my time, both personally and professionally. Of course, I have to do things which are not part of this vision, but my priority is always doing what I know I was born for.
Do things you love. Do things you know you were born for. Because the alternative is at best draining and at worst hell on earth.
4// learn to say no
Once you have priorities, we must learn to say “no” to the things which are not a priority for us. For me, a sign of someone who loves themselves is someone who knows how to set boundaries, in other words, they know how to say no. What we say “no” it actually shows people what we are saying “yes” to.
In my first draft, I recommend a particular book. But then I realised that there are many helpful reads. The journey of growing in self-love is just that, a journey. There are others who have walked this road before and are a little ahead of us. These people can offer us all help, advise and guide us.
Some recommended reading:
– Wild at Heart
– Anything by Brene Brown
6// practise resting
I have learned something about myself, when I am tired (or hungry) my emotions run away with themselves, I am prone to doing something stupid and I lack love (for myself and others). To avoid this, I have found the rhythm of rest. I have intentionally put rest into my schedule. I have one evening off a week, I spend time alone every morning and I have at least one day without ‘work’ a week. This rhythm allows me to work hard, but also play hard. The rhythm rest means I intentional have time each day, and each week, to give into me instead of giving out to others.
When I started the journey toward self-love I journaled every day. At the beginning, I would write about my entire day and how each part made me feel. This was because I needed to become connected to my emotions and understand why I felt a certain way when certain things happened. Now, I just journal when something significant happens, I can’t mind my peace or I need to discover how I feel about something.
Love yourself by giving yourself time to discover how we feel. Remember, emotions were not meant to lead us, but they are an indication of where we are at.
8// treat yourself
We all deserve a treat, even you. I regularly treat myself. This might be 30minutes extra bed, ordering a take away when I know I shouldn’t or having a small scotch before bed. These things, and others, in moderation all help me remember that ‘I am important’ and what I deserve to do what I love.
9// be vulnerable
When we let others see our true selves, we are giving them the opportunity to love us for who we truly are.
As men, we are the worse for us. Through our bravado, we project an image of ourselves which is not true. We then wonder why we do not feel truly loved. It is because we have never given someone the opportunity to.
10// challenge yourself daily
The journey toward loving ourselves is unfortunately not a one-step process. In today’s culture, it takes time and effort. But, if you simply take one day at a time and challenge yourself to choose love and do something different daily, things will change. It won’t take long for you to look back and realise you now give yourself compassion and love when before you did not.
If you need help challenging yourself, hit me up at @peter_murden.