How to Love Yourself More: Cultivating Self-Compassion and Personal Growth

A happy, fulfilling life is impossible if you don’t love yourself.

Self-love is at the root of everything of value in a man’s life–relationships, health, and overall contentment.

If you can’t look yourself in the mirror and feel generally pleased with the man who stares back, your life will never quite feel full. You may have a six-figure job, a mansion, and a 10/10 wife, but if you don’t love yourself, you’ll feel like crap.

Loving yourself is part of what it means to become a high-value man.

No, I’m not talking about the world’s recently adopted definition of self-love: the eat another candy bar even though you’ve already had six self-love… the skip the gym yet another day because you’re happy as you are self-love… the lazy, selfish, purposeless self-love that is driving the modern world into the dirt.

I’m talking about true self-love. The self-love that screams at you until you go to the gym each morning. The self-love that takes rejection with a shrug of the shoulders and a “we’ll get’em next time” mentality. The self-love that makes you the man to turn to in times of crisis and gives you the strength to overcome crippling trauma and past mistakes.

After ten plus years as a men’s coach, I’ve seen that most men live out the entirety of their existence without knowing this magical feeling. It’s time to see why.

“You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are!”: Everything Wrong with the Modern Self-Love Movement

The ease of modern life and the terrifying notion of offending people have set the self-love movement on a dangerous trajectory, throwing true, earnest seekers of betterment into befuddlement.

It all began with those lovely and terrible words: “YOU ARE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!”

While perhaps well-meaning and even necessary to those of us who are too hard on ourselves, taken literally, these words are dangerous to the world of men and the world at large.

Since you’re reading this article, my guess is you know exactly why these words are dangerous. My guess is you’ve given the “LOVE YOURSELF!” method a fair try and found nothing but more emptiness and more questions.

The truth is, you aren’t perfect.

You’re flawed just like every human on the face of the earth.

What the modern self-love movement tells you to do is not only accept but embrace your flaws–your pride, selfishness, laziness, low self-esteem. Embrace these things because they’re part of what makes you you.

Sounds nice, right? Sounds easy? Sounds like a wonderful way to go through life if you’re content to reside among the mediocrity of the world.

Let me ask you a question:

How far would Michael Jordan have progressed in basketball if he accepted that missing free throws was just something he did- part of his game- part of his identity as a basketball player?

Nowhere. He would have gone nowhere. He would have been no one.

Believing that you are perfect just the way you are undermines the meaning of existence. What is it to be human if we can’t improve? Where’s the fun in life if you’re stuck the way you are?

You aren’t perfect! You’re just a work in progress. When you accept your flaws and own up to them, growth follows.

Accept, not embrace.

The Path to Loving Yourself More

Here are eight tried and proven methods of cultivating self-compassion and personal growth in a healthy way to set yourself up for a fulfilling life.

1. Worthy of love: give yourself a reason to admire yourself

Why is it that staring at yourself in the mirror each morning and insisting that you’re perfect just the way you are doesn’t work?

Because you’re lying to yourself and lying to yourself is the perfect way to destroy self-respect and reduce self-confidence.

If you haven’t tried it yourself, just go ahead and trust me because I have. It gave me the same feeling as when I was ten years old and my mother told me I was the most handsome boy on the planet.

It just wasn’t true and deep down I knew it.

Learning to love yourself isn’t some mind game–it’s not a riddle. You don’t have to convince yourself of anything or win yourself over.

Simply put, if you want you to love yourself, you have to give yourself reason to admire yourself.

NEVER give yourself respect that you don’t deserve!

If you’re a sleazy, lazy, good-for-nothing man whose days are spent gaming and jacking off, guess what, you probably shouldn’t be perplexed as to why you don’t love the guy in the mirror.

Hard words, I know, but treating yourself honestly is the first step to loving yourself.

Live a life that you are proud of and you will start to love yourself. Self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth–all of these positive feelings come from being proud of who you are. The only way to be proud of who you are is to make yourself someone you admire.

Become someone you would want to be with because guess what, you are the only person you are always with.

Self-love is like every other kind of love in that it’s never forced.

2. The comparison trap: the danger of comparing yourself to others (too much)

The world is a subjective place in every regard.

A good day looks different to everyone. A lot of money means something different to everyone. Even what it means to be a good person varies by person.

If Bill Gates earns 100k, for example, it doesn’t affect his life as it would yours. Does that mean that you shouldn’t congratulate yourself on your hard work when you do earn 100k?

Of course not!

Basing your successes in life on another’s standards for success ruins life and takes the joy out of the achievement of your goals.

An obese man who’s just walked his first full mile in twenty years can kill the joy of his accomplishment if he compares his mile-time to that of an Olympic runner.

Allowing yourself to fully bask in the joy of your victories releases the positive feelings that lead to better mental health and more self-love.

The key to improvement, however, is to scale up your victories. Once a goal has been reached multiple times, it’s time for a new goal.

Only allow yourself to compare so long as the comparisons lead to a productive solution to your problem or a more open-minded perspective.

3. Make your meaning: why so many men are unhappy with themselves

Thanks to modern research, ideas on self-love and where happiness comes from are no longer so ambiguous and speculative.

Harry’s Masculinity Report, published in 2018, found that meaningful work is, without a doubt, the biggest indicator of a man’s contentment.

“The strongest predictor of a positive mindset in men – by far – is satisfying employment. Hard work is the cornerstone of a contented man that all else is built upon.” -Harry’s Masculinity Report

While this is just a broad study and it would be foolish to write yourself off as a statistic, there is remarkable insight to be gained from this.

Men are happiest when they are doing meaningful work.

You have to do something meaningful if you want to be happy with yourself. Once again, you can only be happy with yourself if you are doing something you’re proud of.

If you are looking to love yourself more, it may be time to get the spotlight off of yourself and find some way you can impact the world.

The modern self-love movement claims that focusing on yourself is the key to unlocking transcendental mental health and destroying negative feelings. This is bogus!

Research clearly shows that the more you focus on others, the more meaningful your life feels and the happier you become.

4. It’s simple: seek meaning, not pleasure

When it comes down to it, people are just skin-wrapped bundles of chemicals.

These chemicals control how we perceive the world and essentially, form our reality. They make us feel sad, happy, angry, and confused.

Are we powerless, then?

No, quite the opposite. While we cannot control what these chemicals do to our bodies, we do get to regulate when and how they’re released.

By regulating what we do to feel good, we are able to create healthy reward systems that give us meaning and make us feel content.

Porn is an easy way to get a quick dopamine spike without any effort, whereas sex with someone you love is a healthy way to get the same dopamine spike in a meaningful way.

As technology advances, quick pleasure is infinite and accessible to all.

2,000 years ago, a rich man held a few concubines to fill his sexual desires. Nowadays, anyone with access to the internet has as many women as they please.

Meaning is disappearing because men are doing what feels good to them in the moment.

Overcoming the urges of the “momentary man” and pursuing long-term meaning instead is the key to perceiving yourself as someone worthy to be loved.

Seek meaning and pleasure will no longer seem important.

5. Embracing Vs. Accepting: overcoming your flaws in a healthy way

The modern self-love movement has made things like pride, selfishness, and dishonesty quirky personality traits rather than reproachable behaviors.

We all have flaws, but viewing these things as intrinsically part of our being is NOT what it means to be practicing self-love.

No one wants to be with someone who’s not trying to improve themselves–someone whose apologies are always “sorry that that happened” rather than “sorry that I am this way”.

Own up to where you’ve screwed up in life. Accept your mistakes and find ways to get better. Spend time with yourself so you get an idea of who you want to be and go after that man no matter how much uprooting of your insides is required.

The key to this improvement is finding the right balance of self-compassion (the forgiving of yourself) and self-discipline (the disciplining of yourself).

While it’s true that too much negative self-talk can destroy your self-esteem and fill you with negative emotions, failing to acknowledge and even regret a little bit the mistakes you’ve made keeps you in the same place.

“DON’T REGRET ANYTHING!” the world screams.

No, don’t over-regret anything.

Regret is necessary–it’s a survival instinct. A bit of regret is the spark that inspires change.

Accept your flaws because self-compassion and self-forgiveness are required (otherwise we’d all be paralyzed with regret), but don’t let yourself off too easy. Self-love isn’t all just positive affirmations and self-acceptance.

6. Creatures of habit: the simple way to cultivate self-love

I used to despise the idea of self-inflicted rules. I hated the idea of a routine–looked down upon the people who wrote out the plan for the day in a journal.

Grow up, I thought. Get some maturity. You don’t have to have a list to know the things that you have to do. Just do what you need to do–save yourself the ten minutes.

Deep down, I hated the idea that I was so weak that I needed external things to fix myself.

Then, I began to notice that the god-awful “journal people” actually got more done than me. They fixed their issues quicker than I did–didn’t flirt with the same weaknesses for years as I did.

They said they were going to go to bed at ten-thirty every night of the week and they did just that. I said I didn’t want to set a bedtime because I was an adult and knew I was mature enough to regulate my bedtime without a rule.

Enough two o’clock bedtimes and I began to realize that humans need rules. We are creatures of habit and routine and we need ways to regulate these things.

The most successful men in the world all have routines that keep their lives in order and enable them to serve their long-term purpose rather than their short-term wishes.

If you want to grow as a man, build a self-care routine:

  1. Sleep: go to bed and wake up at the same time each night and get your 7-9 hours.
  2. Exercise: incorporate some form of movement into your everyday routine.
  3. Eat: regulate not only what you eat, but when you eat and how quickly you eat.
  4. Social: join a men’s support group or another sort of group tailored to your life situation.

7. Becoming your own man: learning to live for yourself, not others

What does it mean to be a grounded man?

A grounded man is a man whose morals, dreams, and beliefs are his own–they are unaffected by the judgments and criticisms of others.

A grounded man understands why he does the things he does and draws satisfaction from not only the doing of the things but the knowledge that they are the best things for him to do.

To be able to love yourself, you have to be able to be alone. Not physically, but mentally–emotionally.

As terrible as it sounds, oftentimes the men who are most content in their purpose find themselves alone at some point.

If you base your enjoyment of life or your value on the opinions of others, you’ll never be able to be fully content with yourself because no one will ever be fully content with you.

Once you live off of your own contentment with yourself rather than the approval of others, your life will flourish.

You’ll be able to build healthy relationships, expect respect from others, and experience more of the positive thoughts and positive emotions that make life worth living.

8. How to love yourself: a mindset shift that makes loving yourself easy

I want to bring this article to a close by introducing you to a powerful perspective that has changed my life and millions of others.

Made popular in recent times by Jordan Peterson, this idea sums up what it means to love yourself and how to get there.

Treat yourself as you would treat someone you care about.

It’s that simple.

Once you start to view yourself as someone you have to love and please, you start to live the sort of life that makes you proud of yourself.

You would never let someone you love get out of shape, fall into depression, or stay in a career they hate, so don’t let yourself.

Live your life as if you cared about yourself and one day you’ll find you do.

Takeaways

Self-love really isn’t a riddle–it’s not something you force–some perspective change or mind trick.

Learning to love yourself is all about making yourself someone you can love.

The world will tell you to tell yourself that you’re perfect. Don’t listen to it. You’re not perfect, but as long as you’re looking for ways to move forward, you’re ahead of all the people who wake up and tell themselves they’re perfect.

To love yourself, to truly love yourself, you have to give yourself someone to admire. You have to stop pursuing momentary pleasure and find some way to bring meaning to the world. Stop comparing yourself to others and start forming habits that put you in a place you want to be.

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The first step to learning to love yourself is acknowledging your weakness. From there, only growth can happen.

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