We are strong. We are tough. We do cool stuff, fix what’s broken, and move on rather than lamenting over our feelings. We hide our emotions in order to move mountains and get the job done. We are Men!
It’s great to be a man and strive for greatness in our lives – but sometimes we’re so occupied with achievements and successes that we forget to focus on the foundation of the man, the work behind the scene. We spend so much time making our life look good on the outside, that we often neglect what’s going on in the inside.
No matter how strong, fit or successful you are (or aim to be), if you don’t take time to maintain your inner world now it will catch up to you eventually.
To be become the strongest version of yourself and actually have it last, you need to practice self-love.
What is self-love?
For many guys, self-love sounds a bit… strange. It can sound needy, or even downright sexual. But the official definition of self-love by Oxford Languages reveals that it’s neither the one nor the other:
“Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.”
Self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself. It implies prioritizing your happiness and well-being and not sacrificing them to please others.
Maybe it helps to rephrase self-love in your mind when you next hear it. Think “routine maintenance of the high-power machine that is you.”
Your mind is the most powerful tool you possess – and they need to be taken care of properly. After all, you wouldn’t expect your car to run great without any routine maintenance, would you?
Why Many Guys Struggle With Self-Love?
It’s a fact: Many guys either cringe at the notion of self-love for men or write it off completely. It’s not a topic often discussed amongst men, and few men openly go out and admit they practice self-love.
But why is that? If self-love is essential maintenance of the car that’s our mind, why would we not admit to it and promote it more openly?
It starts with the “self” part. While many guys spend long hours in the gym trying to get their physical “self” in tip-top shape, it’s not something worth boasting about.
Sure, the result speaks for itself if done right. But the fact that you spend hours and hours just looking after yourself…that’s not something we hear many guys brag about.
It’s much more acceptable in society to talk about stuff we have or do in our lives rather than talking about how we take care of our “self” so that we can continue having and doing.
Another source of struggle is the perceived dichotomy between “love” and “masculinity.”
Especially in society where being masculine quickly descends into the realm of machismo, “love” is not a topic that’s easily woven into the average discussion between guys.
While we all need love and hopefully give love to the people close to us, it’s something implicit for most men.
And if it’s mentioned, it’s usually in connection with a partner: Giving love to someone else seems more acceptable than giving it to yourself.
Last but not least, it seems to be a pride issue as well.
In a world where everyone looks perfect online and guys seemingly conquer the world before noon, it’s often not cool to admit to the need for self-care.
In other words, it’s a much better story to jump out of bed each morning, ready to save the world in a heartbeat, rather than having to gear for up an hour, taking care of yourself and getting your mind into the right state, in order to be a healthy functioning member of society for the long term.
The truth is nobody does it effortlessly.
At this stage, we all know the teams of professional online influencers have at their disposal to make their appearances “effortless.” Every single guy you know who’s doing anything at a high level has put many hours into getting there – and likely continues to do so every day.
Without self-love, even the strongest of men would simply burn out and crash within a matter of months.
It’s important to understand that self-love is not about being selfish or arrogant. It’s about accepting, taking care of and appreciating all that you are – your strengths, your weaknesses, and everything in between.
If you want to accelerate your growth and be the best version of yourself, learn more about my coaching program and learn to optimize your social life, relationships, and happiness.
Self-Love is Not Arrogance – But the Lines Blur
You likely know the type: The guy who just can’t stop talking about himself or posting on social media about his accomplishments, his successes, and all the marvelous things happening in his life without sharing any of the challenges that would make him human.
In social conversation, it’s the guy that’s not really listening and hearing you, rather just waiting for an opening to jump in and make the conversation about him again: “Yeah, when that happened to me….”
Don’t be confused: That’s egocentric behavior, or just simply arrogance. And while guys like that might actually spend quite a bit of time loving themselves, the fact that they continuously talk about themselves has little to do with self-love.
Ever seen an illustration of an iceberg? What you see above the water’s surface is actually only a small part.
The vast majority of the entire iceberg is underwater. And only because there’s such a big part underwater, invisible to anyone floating on the surface, can the visible tip be so stable and steady.
Self-love is not the tip. It’s the part that’s underwater.
And just like with an iceberg, it’s essential to keep those two parts in the proper relation to each other. If you practice great self-love, you invest a lot of time and energy in caring for your body and mind, you’re building a solid, stable foundation – invisible to most.
That’ll likely allow you to shine above the surface: The tip of the iceberg is what people see of you. It’s solid and stable, and anyone who knows about icebergs – or self-love, in our example – knows the work involved under the surface.
With the perfect guy above, the relation between above water and underwater is wrong: He might still have a significant portion underwater – he might look after himself quite well.
But the tip of the iceberg (what people see and hear from him) is so big, so dominant, it’s overpowering and unstable. It’s like a wobbly giant: Sure, it’s big and loud and hard to oversee, but there’s so much there that it’s hard to keep stable and firm.
Self-love is invisible to others. But if done right, what’s above the surface is the ideal tip of the iceberg.
Self-Love Is Not Only for Yourself
There’s an old saying:
“You must love yourself before you love another.”
And while that might rub some people the wrong way – after all, aren’t we supposed to care for others first? – but bear with us.
If you don’t love yourself, don’t put energy and effort into maintaining your body and mind, you’ll struggle to fully show up and love anyone else.
Let’s assume we all have a cup, and inside is love. We need love to function. We need something in that cup, or we’ll wither.
Now, if your cup is empty because you haven’t practiced self-love, you’ll need the contents of other people’s cups to keep you running. That means, while you may go out and genuinely try to help and love other people, it’ll become apparent that your own cup is empty, and people will (hopefully) end up filling yours.
This is value taking energy which after enough time repels others and makes you less attractive and even less lovable. You are taking more love than you can give which eventually pushes the people you love away.
If, however, your car is well-maintained, regularly serviced, and kept in excellent condition, ready to hit the road at any time, your cup is full.
You can go out and fully love others, sharing the love you have in your own life.
It turns out love can be a vicious or a virtuous circle: If nobody practices self-love, we all run around with empty cups, eager to get love from someone else – who themselves might not have any love to spare.
But if everyone took great care of themselves and practiced self-love to keep their cups full, we’d all have love to share, making our environment a much happier place to be a part of.
And before you start thinking that all this talk about cups and love is not for you, think again: Love is not limited to one sense of the word, it can branch out into many other positive qualities.
Replace love with kindness, appreciation, respect.
The bottom line is you need to be in a good space internally to be a good human externally.
How To Practice Self-Love as a Man?
Practicing self-love is not hard, yet it does take consistent effort – it’s not going to happen by itself. And there’s more than one way to do it, so it’s really a matter of finding what works for you and sticking with it. The thing with self love routines is that it in the moment it doesn’t really feel like anything is happening, but over a sustained period of time the results speak for themselves.
Let’s look at the top 10 ways to practice self-love for men.
1. Create Open Space and learn to decompress
Don’t plan everything – the perfect day isn’t always planned down to the hour. Sometimes it’s being open to what could happen and having less pressure to always be “doing” something according to plan.
Often, we’re so busy we literally can’t find the time to create space for ourselves. Between work, family, social obligations, and whatever else is filling up your calendar, slots of free, unplanned time are rare for the busy working man.
Make a point of having open space on your calendar to do what you want to do. Let that time approach and see what you feel like – and then do just that. Feel like calling someone to hang out? Go for it. Feel like going for a hike just by yourself to decompress? Great. Feel like laying at the park with a good read. Then that’s what you do.
Approach the day as a gift, and fill it with whatever makes you feel best at the time it approaches with whom you want or solo. You might not be able to do this everyday of course, but you can surely find a day out of the week where you can create more open space for whatever arises.
2. Forego mindless consumption and get creative
When was the last time you created something because you wanted to and didn’t get paid for it?
In a world becoming more and more consumptive and lost in the pleasures of entertainment than we could ever consume in our lifetime at our fingertips, it’s very easy and tempting to spend our free time consuming rather than creating.
Yet for most of mankind, we did not consume, we created.
But as the British writer Alan Moore said:
“To me, the ultimate act of magic is to create something from nothing.”
Everyone can be creative. It does not matter what you do. If you have free time, you can create.
You have a mind. You have a body. Combined, they’re a unique powerhouse of creativity. You just need to find your outlet and start creating things that excite you in your free time.
3. Celebrate small victories or you’ll miss them all
It’s a human tendency to exaggerate the negative things and downplay the victories. We often only celebrate the big things in life, yet these happen so rarely that the time in between we spend in a mediocre or even negative state, always hard on ourselves and comparing ourselves to peers because we are not where we want to be.
As a parent, you’re likely quicker to scold your children for painting all over your wall than you are to celebrate their creativity in doing so. As an employee, you’re more likely to notice the shortcomings of your boss than the times they’ve helped you grow and succeed in your role.
It’s a tendency we all experience, but it can lead to a dark place. Deliberately focusing on small victories can make a world of difference in your day to day life.
You delivered a project on time? That’s a victory.
You’ve kept up your physical training in spite of growing older? What a victory.
You’ve finally cleaned out the garage after years of postponing it? An accomplishment you can be proud of.
Heck, you got the kids up and fed this morning, and they’re in school? That’s as big an achievement as any parent can hope for.
You do things well. You win at something. Every single day. But they tend to get lost in the flurry of activity that makes up our days. Don’t let that happen: Celebrate small victories. It’ll do wonders for your mindset.
4. Create a morning routine to recalibrate your mind
Get up a little earlier. Do 20 minutes of cardio. Then meditate or do yoga for 20 minutes. Listen to a podcast or motivational content. Read for 10 minutes a feel good book. Then prepare a pot of coffee or tea and consume it while journaling your life, career and relationships. And taking note of the things you are grateful for having today.
Or…not. And just wake up and go straight to work in a hurry.
We’ve all read the “morning routines of successful people,” which usually sound something like the description above. And hey, there might be truth to that, but that does not mean it has to be the same for you.
However, starting the day with the right mindset is an act of self love.
Start by removing all things that create stress or anxiety from your morning routine. For many people, that includes checking email, news or social media.
Then, add a few simple, sustainable activities that put you in an excellent position to start the day. It does not matter what it is, as long as it puts you in a good spot mentally.
And remember to keep it simple and sustainable: The best routine in the world is useless if it’s too complex to go through with every day.
5. Own your boundaries in relationships
If you don’t have boundaries you are a people pleaser with nice guy tendencies because you are scared to own what you deserve in life and relationships.
Remember: unseen fences are useless.
If you don’t know what your boundaries are then think from experience. What causes you pain, stress or frustration?
The most important boundaries to set in any relationship are the ones that when crossed, impact your deepest values and inner peace. Be conscious of them and when someone crosses them, set the boundary. It’s something you can also be proactive about in your relationships by bringing them up early on.
However, some boundaries will be unconscious and you’ll only know in the moment that it’s been crossed because you feel violated. When this happens, take your time, center yourself, own your feelings, and express your boundary.
Boundaries can sometimes feel like you are coming down on the other person too hard and when they cross one you get upset, so it’s important to also share the things you do enjoy and appreciate about your partner to reinforce things you love about them so it’s balanced.
Boundaries comes down to respect. If people knowingly cross a boundary thats been stated that is a sign of disrespect and lack of trust.
If you lose respect and trust it’s only a matter of time before your relationship collapses.
6. Meditate to free your mind
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman poet Juvenal had a piece of wisdom to share:
“Mens sana in corpore sano.”
Roughly translated, this means “a healthy mind in a healthy body,” and emphasizes the focus on both aspects of your being – with the mind coming first.
Your mind is extremely powerful. Few other things matter if your mind is not at ease.
No matter what religion you follow, or if you don’t follow any religion at all: The power of meditation or prayer has been experienced by millions of people worldwide, regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender, or beliefs.
Especially in today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, where sensory overload seems to have become the default, it can be hugely beneficial to regularly calm down, release the stress and find your grounded center. From this place you are less stressed, anxious, worried which allows you to show up better personally, romantically and professionally. It’s too simple I know.
Give it a try – it can literally be a life-changing experience.
7. Have some you-time (introverts)
If you’re an introvert, you especially appreciate you-time, where you’re left alone with your thoughts and ideas. Unless you’re a monk in a far-away monastery, chances are those times are somewhat limited.
Carve out some time to just spend by yourself. Make it at least an hour or two, and occupy yourself with something you enjoy. Spend some time in nature. Read a book. Practice your hobby. Create something that matters to you. Go for a scenic drive.
You know what’s best for you. Anything that helps you get grounded gives you a feeling of satisfaction, being content and recharges you.
8. Hang out with awesome people (extroverts)
We all have hundreds or even thousands of connections online, but how often do you actually hang out with people in real life?
If you’re an extrovert, you get energized by social interaction. And contrary to what most people think today, chatting online is not proper social interaction. So make an effort to go out and get together with some people you enjoy. All it often takes is someone to initiate it, and others will follow.
Text a bunch of guys telling them to meet you at the pub – no excuse. Organize a round of golf and get some others to join. Find a great movie that’s on, buy four tickets, and invite the first three guys that respond.
In a world that’s moving online more and more, and where our busy schedules often limit social interaction, it takes leadership, effort and creativity to bring people together. But when it happens, it’s always worth it.
9. Build deeper relationships with who matters
Relationships are hard. We all know that. It does not matter whether that’s with your partner or your friends – relationships take effort and are fragile.
But deep, meaningful relationships can be a silver bullet for many of the issues we face in our daily lives. As the Swedish proverb goes:
“Shared joy is a double joy, shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
It does not matter where you stand in life, whether you’re in a crisis or experiencing soaring success – life experiences are better when shared with someone you love. We all have limited capacity, and it’s often better to opt for quality over quantity: A handful of good friends who understand us is better than 1,000 connections on LinkedIn. Because, as the old saying goes:
“When you die, if you’ve had five real friends, you’ve had a good life.”
10. Have fun and laugh at life
No two guys are the same. Even identical twins often enjoy and draw energy from different activities and settings. Maybe all of the above work for you – perhaps none do.
But what’s certain is that something will work for you. There is a way you can practice self-love, no matter who you are, where you are, what you do, and what situation you’re in.
If you don’t know what having fun feels like because you’re so busy grinding it out to be successful in career, then reflect back on what made you come most alive in your youth. What gives you energy, what leaves you replenished and in a positive mood where you lose track of time and aren’t even thinking about bodily functions (being tired, going to the bathroom, if you’re hungry or not). These are usually good indicators that you’re really enjoying yourself.
When life throws you lemons, learn to laugh at the challenges and the absurdity of life. “okay life that’s what ya got for me today lol”. Taking every challenge so serious is bound to stack negative emotions on top of each other to the point where you topple over and just can’t take it anymore.
Having more fun and laughing at life is a sign you love yourself enough to not take life so damn serious and can enjoy each good thing and challenge that comes your way.
Push your boundaries and be the man you’ve always wanted to be
Self-love is masculine, and every man should practice it. It’s about taking care of yourself with routine maintenance to ensure the engine of your life keeps running smoothly. There’s nothing weak about that.
Not only will it help you feel better about yourself, both physically and mentally, but it’ll make you an all-around better man, more able to dominate and crush whatever stage of life you’re in.
And regardless of stage, you need awesome men around you who can help you kick ass in life. If you’re ready to take yourself to the next level, consider joining our exclusive community of men who take life by the horns.
Not only will you be part of a group of men who are hungry for a better life, but you’ll also get access to the best course training available for men as well as weekly group coaching calls with my team of transformative coaches.
If you’re ready to push the boundaries of what’s possible in your life and relationships and become the man you’ve always wanted to be – this is the fastest way to do it.