A Guide To Practicing Self-Love
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.” — Robert Morely
Oh, right… but isn’t self-love a bit (insert word here)?
Nope. That’s just a myth.
It’s just a healthy way of validating and appreciating needs.
And the truth is men who take the time to love themselves are far more positive, confident and resilient.
What Is Self-Love?
Basically, self-love is the process of valuing, accepting, and caring for yourself in a healthy and balanced way.
You can do this by taking the time to recognise your strengths and — in the kindest way possible — any areas that need improvement. In turn, this can help you to set and achieve personal goals, building a healthier relationship with yourself — and others.
Essentially, self-love is about treating yourself with kindness and respect. Achieve it, and you’ll be on your way to leading a happier and more fulfilling life.
And contrary to popular belief, this practice isn’t ‘feminine’ (not that that’s a bad thing), but images of Bridget Jones and boxes of tissues aren’t what we’re talking about here.
The reality is men can need self-love more than most.
Why Do Men Need Self-Love?
We’re often told about the “modern man” — someone who’s open, comfortable in his own skin and knows that vulnerability isn’t the opposite of courage but the definition of it.
Sounds alright, doesn’t it?
The problem is: this guy’s still not as common as we’re led to believe.
Movember asked 4,000 men what they thought it meant to be masculine. Worryingly, across all ages groups, a familiar pattern emerged:
“[To be manly/masculine is to be] strong, not open about feelings, always fix everything.” — Canadian man, aged 25- 34
“[To be manly/masculine is] someone who doesn’t like sharing their feelings or discussing them.” — Australian man, aged 35–44
“[To be manly/masculine is to] always try to act tough even when you feel like you just want to break down and cry.” — British man, aged 45–54
This doesn’t sound much like the “modern man”, does it? Dig a little deeper, and there’s even more evidence to suggest that men are in need of some self-love.
Further research suggests that:
- Only 45% of men said they believe other people generally like them.
- As little as 19% of men say they think they are attractive.
- Just 42% of men feel self-confident in their ability to do their job.
- Only half of the men surveyed believe they’re intelligent.
With all that uncertainty, maybe men aren’t quite as comfortable in their own skin after all. But what about grooming, going to the gym etc., I hear you say. That’s all great and important. But it’s not self-love.
Self-Care Vs Self-Love
Self-care and self-love might sound similar. But, in reality, they’ve only got one thing in common:
They’re both essential for a happy life.
The difference between the two is that self-care means looking after yourself physically and mentally. It’s the things we do each day to maintain and improve our well-being, like getting into a regular sleeping pattern, eating well or tuning out of work at the weekends.
On the flip side, self-love is a mindset. It’s the attitude and belief that you’re worthy of love and respect. This means accepting yourself — warts and all — and not sacrificing your welfare to please others.
The good thing is: self-love and self-care aren’t mutually exclusive. Essentially, once you start practising some TLC in your mind, it’s much easier to start taking care of the rest of yourself too.
Sounds good. But what does self-love look like in reality?
Examples Of Self-Love
Practising self-love looks a little different for everyone. However, some things ring true for all types of guys.
Not sure how to start loving yourself? No problem, start with one of these:
- Celebrate the wins (big and small) — met that deadline in good time? Or maybe you chipped a bit more off your credit card this month. Whatever it is, give yourself some praise — you deserve it.
- Make room for “me” in the calendar — achieving work-life balance these days can feel easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. Just show yourself the same commitment you would any other task and dedicate some time for yourself each day. Can’t see the wood for the trees? Find some space in your schedule to do this with the Balance Planner.
- Be mindful of the present — whether it’s five minutes of morning meditation or a 30-minute mindful run, try not to “future trip” and instead focus on the present. If you love this moment, live in it for a while.
- Practice gratitude — maybe it’s your hobbies, pet or how close you live to the park on a sunny day — it doesn’t matter. Start recognising the things in life that make you happy. Feeling the benefits? Keep it up in your MindJournal. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that daily gratitude journaling can strengthen relationships, improve sleep, and increase the joy you feel.
- Be your no.1 fan — don’t wait to hear it from someone else; tell yourself you’re doing alright. You deserve positive affirmations, and no one knows that more than you.
- Build a positive self-image — we’re not talking about physical self-care, no weight lifting here. This is about challenging negative thoughts about your body — and learning to love it as it is.
- Let it go — it’s not always easy, but tuning out negativity and focusing on what makes you happy is a great way to practice self-love.
- Set some boundaries — learn to say “no” to things that don’t align with your values or negatively affect your health, physical or mental. Sometimes this means looking at those we surround ourselves with.
- Building positive relationships — finally, look outside of yourself and at the people in your life. Only connect with those who care for you and will help support your sense of self-worth and belonging.
Sound like a lot? Relax. The very act of self-love is to be a bit kinder to yourself. So start slow, show yourself some compassion, and you’ll begin to feel the benefits in no time.
So What Are The Benefits Of Self-Love?
There are almost too many to mention. But start showing yourself some love today, and you could benefit from any number of the following:
- Better self-acceptance — undoubtedly, the practice of self-love can help you accept who you are. Essentially, there’s no better way to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin.
- Improved self-esteem — consequently, loving and accepting yourself as you are will boost your sense of self-worth.
- Stronger relationships — and when you have a healthy sense of self-worth, you’re more likely to attract and maintain positive relationships with others.
- Become more self-aware — self-love makes you more aware of your feelings, needs and values. Consequently, self-awareness helps you make better decisions for yourself.
- Heightened self-compassion — you’ll also find it easier to give yourself a break. Self-love enables you to be kinder, more understanding and less judgmental towards yourself.
- Increased resilience — by going easier on yourself, you’ll become better equipped to handle difficult situations, ignore your inner saboteur and bounce back from setbacks.
- Improved physical and mental health — when you love yourself, you’re more likely to take better care of your physical health and make healthier choices. And by feeling better on the outside, you’ll also boost your mental health.
- Greater overall well-being — loving yourself can lead to a greater sense of purpose, passion and a much more positive outlook on life.
Essentially, take the time to start loving yourself, and everything else will fall into place.
So why wait? When you’re living with yourself 24/7, investing in this relationship feels like a no-brainer.
There’s only one piece missing from this puzzle: you need to start believing it yourself. Just remember: you’re worthy of happiness. And everyone around you likely knows it too.