“Love yourself first because that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.”
Tough guys don’t talk about feelings. Right? WRONG. Today I’m getting real with all of you on a topic that is typically not blogged about with business owners and men.
I want to talk this week about something in most people’s minds, but people like me rarely discuss it: Self-love.
In the past, I have been very harsh with myself. I have beat myself up for not being successful enough or a good enough father, husband, friend, etc. Despite hearing how important it is to love oneself, I don’t know if I could have shouted from the rooftop, “I LOVE MYSELF!”. In 2012, my wife Jenny and I went to “Unleash the Power Within,” an Anthony Robbins event. During the intense three days, we learned so much about self-love, forgiveness, and being enough.I don’t think I consciously said to myself, “Hey Aaron, you’re not good enough, man!”. It just happened. An inner feeling that I was a failure. An inner sense that I was wasting away and not giving myself the love I deserve. Social media adds pressure to this already serious issue. We expect each other to post all the great things going on in our lives, how wonderful our marriage is, how much money we have, and the vast circle of friends and popularity surrounding us. The highlight reel doesn’t leave room for REAL. In the life and business, and all the chaos that comes with being an entrepreneur, business owner, husband, father, friend, I would forget to show myself love and enjoy all of the quirky, cool things that make me ME. “Falling in love with yourself first doesn’t make you vain or selfish – it makes you indestructible.” There was a time when I would subconsciously be criticizing myself as I drove to Rudy’s BBQ or Taco Bell. I stayed at the office late because I didn’t want to face my home failures. It wasn’t doom and gloom, but more just like groundhog day where I wasn’t practicing self-love as I should have. Contrary to what people may believe, I had this voice on my shoulder, whispering that I wasn’t making a difference, and I wasn’t doing work that mattered. I was battling with my voice, my expectations, my standards. Standard #1 should be to love yourself, no matter what! There will be times when you beat yourself up and then realize how harsh or ridiculous you are acting. Your job is to do this as little as possible, and when it does happen, to acknowledge it and re-focus on positive self-love and self-respect. What can you focus on to remember how awesome you are? Sometimes, I read kind text messages from friends or family that I save on my phone. It reminds me that despite my flaws and imperfections, people love me! And if others love me, I must love myself. I remind myself that I am good enough because I don’t let something that happened to me define me. I would associate being sued or divorced or broke with strong feelings. Feelings of resentment and even hate for the events that shaped these. But then I realized it had all made me who I am. It has brought me to my new business, my wife, and my new and unexpected happiness.
Self-love can often start with self-awareness. Be mindful of the things you say to yourself. Here is another way to remind yourself you ARE good enough: Talk to yourself in the mirror. It might seem silly or weird at first, but it will work. Say things like: I am smart! I am handsome/beautiful! I am funny. I am a great friend. I am…. fill in the blank. Do this every day, and watch your confidence and self-love grow. When you are more aware of how you talk to yourself, you will be better at talking to yourself in a more loving, positive way. If you hear yourself say something that isn’t loving or supportive to yourself, don’t beat yourself up for it, but make a note, say something positive and move on. You aren’t perfect.
Steps you can take to start self-love:
- Nix the Comparisons with Others.
Yes, I compare myself to people, want to be more like, look up to as a role model, etc. Comparing yourself isn’t BAD per se, but know this: That person you are looking up to and comparing yourself to- they are comparing themselves to someone too. They are not perfect. Their lives may look perfect on TV, Instagram, in their book, etc., but behind the scenes, they are struggling too. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. Just don’t let it be gospel for you. Instead, switch gears and change the mindset to a sense of understanding. We are all going through something. We all want compassion and respect and to be understood/accepted. Even the most glamorous person in Hollywood or the wealthiest people in the world are going through something. We are all imperfect and deserve self-love. The less you compare yourself to others and be the best version of yourself possible, the more you will be satisfied with yourself and lean into self-love.
2. Shut Your Brain Up.
Brains are pesky things, aren’t they!? Thoughts do not have the final say. YOU DO. And yes, your thoughts are part of you, but they don’t define you. Don’t believe everything you think! If you think of something mean or not kind about yourself, you don’t have to give it control. You can take control and think something positive too. Don’t give power to your brain. It may be a command center for your body, but it doesn’t have to command you into not loving yourself!
3. What You Focus On Is What You Become
We are hardest on ourselves. The wrinkles, the less than perfect smile, the gray hair, or the loud laugh-we all want to change something about ourselves. I worry for the youth, who we teach to use filters on social media, and who need likes and followers to have self-worth. Focus on the blessings. Could you focus on the things we take for granted? Focus on the things that would not be here tomorrow if we didn’t write them down.
4. Talk To Yourself Like You’re Talking To Your Teenage-Self
Being a teen is tough. We are in search of being accepted. We are less in control of our hormones, moods, and new lives. We might feel misunderstood, feel shame or depressed, or super anxious, annoyed, or awkward. When we are in a state of self-hate, or at the very least, not feeling good enough, it’s essential to be loving to ourselves. One way is by talking to yourself like you’re talking to your teenage self. “Don’t worry, buddy-it gets better. You’re doing better than you think! You can do it. Keep believing in yourself. You deserve happiness.” Hear how this helps? Hear the love? Being (insert life-stage here) is challenging. You deserve to give yourself compassion and love, no matter what you are doing or going through.
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” –Andrea Dykstra
You need to make peace with the past- and maybe even the present. Making peace will propel you into a life of self-love and acceptance. Remember all that self-talk I mentioned above? Making peace is so important.
5. You’ve come a long way! Don’t forget it!
You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to meet perfection. Making an effort to move in the forward direction is GOOD ENOUGH. It’s Okay to try and fail. It’s okay to make a goal and then tweak it. Instead of expecting “perfection or bust,” the point is just trying to accept that you will probably fall short a few times or more in life. But if you are making an effort, you are making progress. You’ve come a long way, and you can be proud of yourself (even if you have a long way to go!).
6. Self-loathing doesn’t morph itself into self-love.
Start with loving yourself unconditionally. Commit yourself that you will love yourself even if you fail. You will love yourself even if others don’t. You will love yourself even if you make a huge mistake. You see, self-loathing for something you’ve done only holds you back. It will never get you to a place of self-love. If you don’t feel like you’re good enough, you will emit specific energy to others. You will be telling your brain that your thoughts have power over who you are. You will be wasting your precious time on things that don’t matter in the long run. Telling yourself what a failure you are won’t make you any more successful, nor will it help you love yourself.
I hope this blog post helps you look at the way you love yourself. I know that sometimes it takes intentional effort. I challenge you to look at how you love yourself and try to treat yourself more lovingly. Especially if you don’t like to talk about your feelings, I hope this helps you get a little more comfortable.
Unconditional love for yourself: You deserve it, and you are good enough!