In Blog, Personal Development, Psychology, Relationships, Top

How To Stop Trying To Love Yourself, And Start Being Happy

Having spent a lot of my 20’s and early 30’s battling mild depression, I’ve read far too many self-help books in an attempt to figure out why I was miserable with my wonderful life.

At some point, almost every book cited self esteem as the problem and learning to love yourself as the miracle cure for unhappiness.

Not one of the books actually had a step-by-step prescription for how to love yourself.

So, the question I’ve been asking myself for years is:accept

Exactly how the f#ck am I supposed to love myself?

Do I wake up in the morning and hug myself?

Do I look at myself in the mirror (with puppy-dog eyes) and repeat the mantra “I love you, Bruce. I love you, man. You’re awesome!” over and over until I believe myself?

Do I give myself long warm baths and take myself for a massage once a week?

I can tell you, I’ve tried all of these… and although some of them temporarily made me feel better, none of them ever made me love myself any more or magically altered my self esteem at all.

Love YourselfSo, how the f#ck do you love yourself then?

The answer is simple: You don’t.

You can’t.

Mathematically impossible.

“Huh?”

Because you are Love.

You can’t love yourself, because…
YOU. ARE. LOVE.

Only, you forgot.

OK, I know. I’m getting all existential on your ass… but this is important stuff, so bear with me.

Every mystical spiritual tradition worth its salt has essentially said the same thing:

  • Everything is LOVE
  • You are LOVE
  • Get over it and everything will turn out just fine

OK, I admit. I may have simplified their teachings a little… Maybe, a lot. But that’s the essence of it.

Clearly “getting over it” and having a direct experience that everything is LOVE is easier said than done.

Part of the difficulty is that most of us incorrectly believe that LOVE is a feeling – not just any old feeling, but a good, nice, happy feeling.

Flawed thinking.

If everything is LOVE, then LOVE has to be both good and badlight and darkpleasure and pain

Yet, new-age woowoo voodoo would have us believe that LOVE is only good.

If I told the new-age crowd that LOVE was bad, love was dark and love was pain, they’d call me a heathen and digitally stone me to death with hundreds of scathing blog comments below this post.

So, we are faced with a problem:

As long as we’re only willing to acknowledge one side of LOVE’s coin, we only acknowledge half of LOVE.

And then we only feel half ALIVE (i.e. we become unhappy). Ironically, the pursuit of happiness (the good side of the coin only) causes unhappiness.

How I Stopped Loving Myself And Came Back To Life

When I eventually “cured” myself of my bouts of depression, it wasn’t because I learned to love myself, but as a result of accepting parts of myself that I didn’t want to accept.

I stopped trying to change my jealousy, and when my lover told me she was attracted to another man, I breathed through it and allowed my jealous emotions to overwhelm me and move through me. My jealousy came and went.

When I felt needy, instead of trying to hide my neediness, I consciously began experiencing it. I’d tell my lover, “Honey, I’m feeling desperately needy. Please would you comfort and reassure me?” My neediness came and went.

“When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure”. – Rudolf Bahro

In essence, I stopped resisting the other side of the coin.

I consciously invited those darker experiences into my life: the bad feelings, the sad feelings, the scared feelings.

I welcomed them.

I allowed myself to feel my pain, my sadness, my depression. Not wallow in it, but experience it in my body, without needing to alter it, change it, or suppress it – until it left me.

Wanna know what happened?

Very soon, I began feeling good about myself more often than not.

Notice that what I didn’t do was try to love myself more. Instead I focused on accepting myself as is without resisting my experience of myself in the moment.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers

The Myth Of Loving Yourself Before Loving Another

According to this myth, until you can love yourself, you can’t love another…

This doesn’t stand up to critical thinking if you consider that it implies that a mother who doesn’t love herself can’t love her newborn baby until she learns to love herself? Sounds like more new-age woowoo voodoo dogma to me.

This “love yourself first” dogma is so ingrained in our culture, I recently heard of a woman who broke up with her man saying that she needed time to “work on loving herself”.
“Good luck with that…”, was my first thought. Why? Because trying to love yourself is impossible and trying to change yourself in isolation never works. We do not exist in isolation. We exist inside the context of our relationships with others and the world.

Let’s land the plane…

If loving ourselves is impossible then how do we change our perception of ourselves – our self image or self esteem?

Good question. Glad you asked.

Ask a life coach (or read a self help book) about self esteem and they will most likely advise you to go and “work on yourself” and your self esteem will improve.

Where Yoga and Mediation Fail…

The “work on yourself” part is left vague, but usually involves one or more of the following:

Therapy
Meditation
Visualization
NLP

Hypnosis
Yoga
Energy work
Shamanistic ceremony

Past life regression
Shadow work
EFT tapping
Emotional release work

Etc, etc, etc…

I’m not knocking any of these disciplines. I’ve partaken in each of them had positive experiences with most. None of them created permanent results.

My point is that nobody seems to have a goddam clue as to what actually works when it comes to create sustainable and meaningful positive change in your perception of Self.

The Big Self Help Lie That Keeps You Stuck (and buying more self help books)

After a few years of pondering this topic, I stumbled upon a fundamental flaw in the way we’ve been approaching self help (and particularly self esteem).

It dawned on me that the entire focus of the self-help industry is on changing the internal aspect of our experience – our inner game.

The implicit promise of the self-help industry is that if you change your inner world your outer world will shift.

While I agree with this premise, it is not the whole picture.

If changing yourself was simply a matter of tinkering “inside” yourself, we’d all be actualized already and the billion dollar self-help movement would be out of business.

What the self-help movement doesn’t acknowledge is that if you work on your outer world, your inner world also follows suit.

Inner world and outer world are two sides of the same coin. They are interdependent. Working with one to the exclusion of the other is counterproductive.

Yet this is exactly what most people attracted to self-help do. When it comes to the outer game of getting your hands dirty, they run a mile.

If we want to change any aspect of ourselves, we’ll get better results if we work with both our inner game and our outer game.

So… what is the outer game of building self esteem?

How to get high self esteem

How To Actually Build Lasting Self Esteem

Here’s how: Cultivate nurturing relationships with supportive people.

Why would I suggest focusing on relationships with real live humans?

Because our self esteem was originally created through our interactions with real live humans – our parents, our teachers, our bosses etc….

We didn’t wake up one day and consciously choose to have low or high self esteem.

We learned who we are by absorbing the feedback we got from the people in our environment.

Nathaniel Branden (in 1969) defined self-esteem as “the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness.”

It makes sense then that the outer game of high self esteem is to  cultivate relationships with not just anyone, but people who make you feel competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and worthy of happiness.

How do you do that?

Hang around people who have high self esteem and are willing to support your growth. These could be friends, family, colleagues or mentors.

The most important thing is that you regularly interact with these people and ask them for their support in building high self esteem.

The Self Esteem Game

I wrote an entire report on how attract highly esteemed people into your circle of influence here. Its free, so go download it.

Having said all that, we can’t neglect the inner game of self esteem either…

The inner game of self esteem might look like this:

  • Choose who you want to become. It helps to write down traits of people you admire. The people we admire usually have the traits we believe are missing in ourselves.
  • Write down a detailed description of who you want to become using as many of the senses as possible – at the very least paint pictures, sounds and feelings with your words as you write. A page should be enough.
  • Visualize yourself as this person daily. My Relaxation For Manifestation program is affordable and designed to help you with visualizing your ideal self and life.
  • Work with a therapist or coach to help you get complete and make peace with your past. Landmark Education’s programs are great for this.

The Ultimate Self Esteem Enhancer

A friend of mine, Jean Oelwang (CEO of Richard Branson’s charity, Virgin Unite), shared an inspiring story with me about an informal study that she did for him.

Branson was on his Caribbean island hosting a summit for some of the greatest leaders on the planet today – Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter to name a few.

He asked Jean to study and interview these giants (all of whom have incredible self esteem) and discover what they all had in common.

She could only find one common trait among them: A supportive, committed romantic relationship.

Think about it.

If our sense of self is sculpted by our interactions with others, then the one person who has the most influence over our sense of self over time is the person we spend the most time with.

And that person is usually our romantic partner.

What do you think might happen to your self esteem over a 5 year period if your romantic partner:

  • Celebrated with you when you won and soothed you when you failed
  • Encouraged and supported your personal growth and learning
  • Told you they loved you and demonstrated their love in actions
  • Provided a soft shoulder for you to lean (or cry) on when you felt down, insecure or could not soothe yourself
  • Gave you behind the scenes support in achieving your dreams and goals (without interfering), in a way that empowered you to take your own initiative

Imagine how different you’d feel about yourself if you had that kind of external validation and feedback every day for 5 years.

Do you think your self esteem would improve?

You bet your goddam life it would!

Do you think you’d still need to “learn to love yourself” more?

Of course not!

So please…

STOP trying to fix yourself.

STOP trying to love yourself.

STOP trying. Period.

You’re wasting your precious time on this planet doing shit that just plain doesn’t work. If it did work, it would have worked already.

Burn Your Self Help Books

book-burningI don’t really mean that literally… I mean I hope I’ve persuaded you to stop sitting at home with your self help books trying to make yourself feel better about yourself. Go get in the (outer) game and start playing on the field of life.

Go share yourself, feel your feelings, cry for no reason, laugh for no reason, play with yourself and others, and get down and dirty, face to face with other supportive people who love and believe in you.

There are 7 billion of us, so you’ve got lots of cool people to choose from.

And finally, I’m secretly hoping that you’ll go build a romantic relationship with someone you love (and who loves you back) that nurtures your growth, respects you and makes you feel worthy.

When you spend that much time with another person who sees you as the incredible person you are, it rubs off.

In my opinion (and some other pretty smart people), that’s the fastest way to learn, grow and evolve as a human being.

If you’re currently in a committed romantic relationship and you don’t feel loved, respected and nurtured, you may want to check out my next online Relationship Repair program. In 7 weeks, it will turn your relationship around.

Thanks for reading.

Bruce

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do me a favor and please share it (using the buttons below). If you’ve got thoughts or ideas you want to share with me, leave me a comment below. I want to hear from you.

Showing 39 comments
  • Nikola
    Reply

    Bruce
    Thank you for sharing so eloquently what so many of us (my sense)are feeling…
    We are here to have a human experience… in order to “live” we have to experience ourselves inwardly and experience ourselves outwardly in the world, otherwise we are not doing justice to this experience.

    We are love yes, and we are all good, bad, ugly, beautiful…
    Once we accept that we are all shades of everything, we can get out there and start experiencing and living the way I believe we are meant to be….

    Thank you.

  • Julie
    Reply

    Brilliant Bruce, you are spot on right as always of course.
    I was feeling a bit deflated today, but thats just totally cheered me up. Thanks. Love ya.

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Hey Bruce. I love receiving your mails and so glad you have begun focusing on the most important part of life, which is relationships. I have been through so much in my life and I am now at a point where I am feeling confident that I will meet the right partner for me who will support, uplift and believe in me, to help me to achieve the things I am striving for in life. I do believe that we ARE love and that sometimes we need to ‘work’ at letting go certain issues which we have held onto through the years, which is where I want to come in with the workshops I want to do. But you are SO right that it’s also about the people you spend time with, and whether or not they love and support you, or bring they you down because their self esteem is also low. This is ultimately where we have the power and freedom to choose to change direction in our lives, and I know that after having just come out of a broken engagement and spending time with the most amazing friends who are uplifting me, and believing in my bright future, way before I even could. So i thank you for this msg today, it is the right time in my life to hear this and know I am on the road to a very exciting and awesome future. All the best, from Cape Town 🙂

  • karen
    Reply

    Bruce!! Well said! Very well said. Thanks as always for sharing and helping put so much into perspective for me. I had to accept the bad. Sit with it and let it be..I still do this daily and it has made life a lot easier. It keeps getting easier. The biggest lesson for me was that I didn’t have to change/improve myself..damn self help 🙂 blessings bruce, big blessings.

  • Barbara Anastasia
    Reply

    Thank you for your refreshingly direct point of view, Bruce. Agree completely and look forward to the delicious conversation my man and I will have after he reads this too!

  • GODFREY PIETERSEN
    Reply

    Hi Bruce you are a ‘STAR ” i HAD THESE THOUHTGS ALL THE TIME YOU just set my soul free.
    regards

  • rubina
    Reply

    I love this article. i keep getting attacked for not loving myself, and whilst i agree that we bring in what we need to learn, I thought i was doing a pretty great job, loving myself warts, and all. This article has made so much sense. Thank you Bruce xx

    • Bruce Muzik
      Reply

      Me too Rubina. It amuses me when I share my insecurities vulnerably in public, how many people jump advising me to love myself and work on my self esteem.

      I seems that our culture confuses insecurity with low self esteem. The way I see it, if we are not feeling insecure or scared shitless from time to time, we are not playing a big enough game in life.

  • Mario Aleman
    Reply

    Really opened me up to an entirely new view or relating to myself and other people. Reading the self help with the intention to apply how it can be followed up with people is a new way to take action. So its like read and move your feet. In this way it is going out with what you have and who you are(love) and be with the people who support you. You will know who they are,I would hope so anyway.From what I took away from this is the most effective mantra is someone being sincere and telling you,” I love you”and your end open to receive it.Great stuff!!!

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Bruce, this is an AWESOME article. You’ve written lots of great stuff, and this one MADE MY DAY! Right on! I’ve learned so much from you. I love you! You’re awesome!

  • Patricia.Hadou
    Reply

    Hi Bruce
    Welcome back, I’ve not heard from you for a while and was missing your sense of humour. Love your article. What I love about you is YOU ARE REAL. None of that Namby Pamby noncence from you. Love reading your blog’s, always cheer me up and motivate me. THANK YOU

  • Shannon
    Reply

    Hey Bruce – awesome article – very real and insightful. Unashamed I confess I’m constantly trying to “fix” myself, yet in this very moment I just remembered my own advice I give so frequently – “there’s nothing to fix – he/she is not a broken piece of equipment”…so thank you for the re-enforcement – much appreciated and much needed. Ha! Yeah I’m needy lol

  • Frank Castle
    Reply

    Hey there. I agree your article was very refreshing, and applicable to many people. With respect, I wanted to point out that your emphasis on a loving committed romantic relationship was off-putting to me. I agree, of course, that a loving relationship is desirable. But what of those who struggle so much with their self image that they are totally unsuccessful at even dating, let alone having a committed relationship? How much does it help to hear that the best way to overcome whatever it is that has prevented them from finding the confidence to have a committed relationship (which they want more than anything), is to have a committed relationship? Or the person who is still recovering from the time a relationship gone bad truly damaged their self-esteem? From my perspective, one doesn’t ever need to be told how great a loving relationship is, and highlighting it as the “ultimate self esteem enhancer” may well simply hurt those who just need to focus on the first half of your post. Just my 2 cents, I thought this comment section needed a little more “critical thought.” 🙂

    • Bruce Muzik
      Reply

      Hi Frank. Good question: “But what of those who struggle so much with their self image that they are totally unsuccessful at even dating, let alone having a committed relationship?”

      Again, same deal… go into the outer world and learn. Buy books on dating. My friend Adam Gilad has a wonderful program for men (www.theboldnesscode.com) helping them attract high quality women by becoming better men.

      I get that I might offend people by saying that in my opinion a relationship is the fastest way to grow. Such is the nature of life. People get hurt. People experience pain. That’s the other side of the coin I was talking about.

      Remember, LOVE is hurt. LOVE is pain. LOVE is EVERYTHING.

      I LOVE YOU

      • Frank Castle
        Reply

        So thankful for this reply. Really glad I decided to comment with my thoughts. Ahh… yeah, just so much gratitude.

        I LOVE YOU

  • Karen Phillips
    Reply

    “If I told the new-age crowd that LOVE was bad, love was dark and love was pain, they’d call me a heathen and digitally stone me to death with hundreds of scathing blog comments…”

    WHAT AN AMAZING WORDSMITH YOU ARE! Love to you, as always.

    Karen

    PS – I am signed up for the Landmark Forum in August.

    • Bruce Muzik
      Reply

      Oooh… You’ll get a ton from it. I’m excited for you.

  • mpho phala
    Reply

    brilliant ideas and motivating.

  • Grant Williamson
    Reply

    Love it! Very insightful, an angle I had forgotten about but which seems to transcend the whole Self Love business, thanks for the timely reminder, uncanny really – just the message I needed at just the right time

  • Luciana Cousin
    Reply

    Thank you Bruce for having the courage to say it like it is, it is refreshing to read your blog. It seems that society has adopted an “ Emperor’s new clothes’ mentality. And we are losing the ability to think for ourselves, since we are not only encouraged, instructed and drilled but also expected to be positive all the time and not say anything that may be construed as negative. By abdicating that right to disagree with the social consciousness we also stand to lose our individuality, and we also sidestep responsibility as we unquestioningly follow this ‘keep positive no matter what‘ follow the herd attitude and mind set.

  • Helen
    Reply

    Brilliant stuff Bruce… as always:)
    Some thoughts from me: I believe that self-love comes when we stop being so self-focused/shy (always wondering what impression we’re making).Get involved in doing good for others including the ones with low self-esteem as well as self-confident ones.
    Amazing how our esteem raises (and self-love) when we can make a difference in the lives of others… without carrying them or their load.
    Accept that not everyone will like us..it’s an energy thing.. but if they don’t that’s their problem.. if you are loved by most you interact with, you’re doing your best in society. Helen x Ps..love the caption and have downloaded it..hope it’s ok to use it ..thanks Bruce

  • Chelsea
    Reply

    Eloquent and sassy, Bruce. It’s a refreshing perspective touching on the elephant in the room that I feel isn’t discussed: with all the therapies, methods, self help books and practices, it seems like there remains an inner void still seeking fulfillment. A little more self-acceptance, rather than “self-love”, opens space for humor, authenticity, and living an epic life…warts and all. The picture you painted of having a partner that “celebrated” wins and “encouraged” our personal growth sounds great…but first it seems even better if we could do this for ourselves. I imagine that would be the type of “energy” that would attract a partner that would do the same. Love the post, thanks for touching on this topic and inspiring those of us reading.

    • Chelsea
      Reply

      You know what? I think you might be right after all.

      • Chelsea
        Reply

        Your words have stuck with me since you posted this. Having high self-esteem allows a person, when in relationship, to be able to communicate authentically to their partner. This obviously helps and possibly ensures the success of a relationship. But I think where I’m wrong is in thinking that this esteem must be in place before entering into the relationship–and you’re saying that the relationship could be the place where the esteem is created. I know that when I’m alone in my thoughts, my low-esteem thoughts fester upon themselves. The more I learn about how the mind (and my own mind) works, the more I realize how little control we have on it. With the support of a loving partner, it would make sense that one’s self-perception could transform…which would, in turn, nourish the relationship.

        This is a new idea to me, one that I’ve strongly resisted for awhile now. It’s like trying on a new shoe. I can talk forever about my ideas, but I haven’t put this into action powerfully yet. Of all people, you’re the one to push me over that edge.

        • Bruce Muzik
          Reply

          Chelsea, I agree… and I love that you’re contemplating putting it “powerfully into action”.

          I’m not sure that “Having high self-esteem allows a person, when in relationship, to be able to communicate authentically to their partner.”

          I don’t know if Self Esteem is a prerequisite for communicating authentically with anyone (although it sure may help).

          In my experience, a healthy dose of courage , a commitment to truth, and an understanding of the consequences of not communicating authentically is what drives authentic communication, not necessarily high self-esteem.

          Knowing you as I do, you have all 3 of these in spades. 🙂

  • Stuart
    Reply

    As I understand love is an attitude wanting someone to be happy unconditionally and on the basis of that the “love” feeling can arise. So a mother has the “love” feeling similar to someone who has “fallen in love” -unfortunately mothers and lovers get angry respectively with their children and lover. This to me illustrates this is the feeling of love -not supported by the attitude of love. Genuine love to me is generated by familiarising with the attitude of love- this attitude needs to be supported by valid reasoning. This love can then hold much better in the face of difficulties and when our children/parents upset us.
    I do think the more this attitude of love is developed toward oneself supported by self acceptance then the more we will be able to accept and love others.
    So I must say I respectively don’t agree with much of what you have said

  • Kai Pagliai
    Reply

    hey man, i feel like self love is a certain key for some people to come to self acceptance. though it seems like accepting what is, is the true key. it does seem that when acceptance of what is (a practice) happens, love arises. acceptance of ‘self’ love of ‘self’ arises. though for myself self love does is a skillful fit, though, as it seems you have discovered, we are love. or at least love arises out of who we are (nature of mind- pure consciousness). either way they are almost synonymous. so right on to acceptance of what is, and want to challenge you to consider its a skillfull key that works for people. for instance, love yourself when unlove arises. boddhichitta. i guess dynamics of relationship to love come into play. accepting what is accepting what is accepting what is.

    I guess my disposition is towards self love, through accepting what is, even if its a lack of it. Being with what is I discover even more and more self love. What arose for me was a wanting you to name it an claim it to your experience, instead of plainly needing to make it some objective thing. For instance, what I got from what you said was that in trying to love yourself, you weren’t accepting yourself. When you let it all go and just started accepting what was,live naturally arose towards yourself. That feels good to me. Additionally, I like how you include we are love, seems relevant, though also want to include love as a relational disposition to parts of self. I really like that you accepted all of what was arising, beyond preferences to particular states. Feels good. Love. Though I want to claim and name that my disposition is to love myself.

  • Juniper
    Reply

    I think self love has to do with the way we treat ourselves with our thoughts, the people we spend time with, the beliefs we hold about ourselves. We can check it by asking ourselves if it would be loving to say or do that to someone else. So if we catch our thoughts berating us, limiting us, etc… we can change those thoughts to ones of encouragement and strength and power.

  • Juniper
    Reply

    If we don’t take care to treat ourselves with love and kindness, then when we get in a relationship, how can we expect the other person to treat us better than we are willing to treat ourselves? And what kind of partner will we attract if we don’t believe that we deserve love?

    • Bruce Muzik
      Reply

      Absolutely, Juniper. We attract a partner that mirrors and matches how we see our selves… and that partner will be a perfect fit for us – perfect to teach us what we need to know in order to grow and evolve into a more conscious, aware and awake human being.

      We can’t evolve and grow if we don’t attract those partners that mirror back to us the parts of ourselves that we won’t accept.

  • Melanie
    Reply

    Bruce, I think you really nailed this one. I am subscribed to so many different blogs, newsletters, you name it. But, NOBODY lays it out on the line like you do and NOBODY opens up the way that you do. Your blogs allow me to feel like I know you as a personal friend and talking to people like that, being able to do that, I feel is an extraordinary thing. I, myself, have trust issues with people, as I have experienced betrayal many times, which has left me somewhat closed off to many people. But, I have downloaded your report about your 5 closes chimps (cute) and do have some good people left in my life. And I know what you mean about all the self-help books too, because if it were that easy, we would all be madly in love with ourselves. I, too, have always felt something “wrong” with the idea of having to love yourself before someone else can love you. I even get confused when I hear the song on the radio that says “let me love you til you love yourself” or something like that, it confuses me, due to the theory you mentioned. Being an LOA coach myself, relationship centered, I know they are referring to the fact that we attract which we are, but based on the boyfriends I have attracted throughout my life, I’d have to say I suck in that case. lol. So, I too have doubts about that loving yourself before others love you. I love that you included how our self-perceptions were created by others, which is a shame (but true), unless we are 1 of those all mighty rare people who were only praised and complimented all throughout life & I don’t know anyone like that. I recently told a friend that I believe we all have insecurities, whether large or small and she disagreed with me. But, I can’t speak for 7 billion people like you said. Thank you for sharing this with the world. Your posts are among the most helpful I read and I know they are coming from your heart and not your desire for extra income (even though we all need that! : )

    • Bruce Muzik
      Reply

      It feels really good to read your feedback and encourages me to be more raw, honest and vulnerable with my readers. Thank you Melanie.

  • Christina
    Reply

    Your article left me with a huge smile on my face! Relational loving= powerful global social transformation. I really believe committed partnership is a fertile laboratory for exquisite, messy and soul shifting personal and collective growth and well being. Really great piece- Gratitude!

  • Gil
    Reply

    Hey Bruce!

    “We learned who we are by absorbing the feedback we got from the people in our environment.” – not true. This certainly has an affect, but unless all you care about is what others think and tell you, this is not what makes us who we are. Perhaps one might set expectations or goals (without any ‘outside’ influence) that could not realistically be achieved, and then felt like a failure when they didn’t (see Epicurus’ philosophy on the pursuit of happiness).

    This whole article revolves around our self esteem being our perceived worth by others. That is a view that would be held by someone who is insecure, needlessly. But there is a way to make perfect sense of who we are.

    Two things…

    1) Loving yourself… always stuck me as a dangerous road to arrogance, if not treated with a healthy dose of humility.

    2) Insecurity… if we had none at all we would be totally ‘secure’, completely confident and therefore on a dangerous road to arrogance. Just as you said, we need some insecurity to keep us healthy!

    What?! Face palm…of course! They are just different words for the same thing on a sliding scale. Just as joy and fear could be the extremes on their own sliding scale (the Master Scale if you like, that contains all other scales within it)…

    Wait…that’s getting complicated, let’s break it down simply. Think instead of a graphic equalizer, with auto balance. All the ‘mini scales’ are the ‘sliders’ within that ‘Master Scale’ of fear and joy. An adjustment here or there affects the overall make-up of our resonating character. The auto balance is the causality of action and reaction, cause and effect. This then, accounts for the variety of characters we see – all individual expressions, yet all of us (essentially) the same. Bear with me, I’m making this up as I go along to arrive at my point. (I’m the king of analogies having read “Consciously Creating Circumstances” 😉

    Before I read that, before I met you at BC, I read another fascinating book that covered to practical difficulties of learning to love yourself. It’s fascinating in its simplicity, but obviously assumes a stand point where your self love is out of whack (i.e. the graphic equalizer ‘output’ leaves much to be desired). The idea then (not a new one) is to identify the problem areas and begin to change those things we don’t like. Those things are split in to two areas: the things we can change and the things we can not. The things we don’t like that can not be changed…we learn to accept. Through acceptance we can develop ‘love’. Like I said nothing new there, but the fascinating read I had was how to practically do this. The practical lesson works from the outside to within.

    Very few of us would enjoy scrutinizing ourselves by standing in front of a full length mirror…naked. Perhaps that can be slowly worked towards, but arrive there we must! Identify the things you like. Identify the things you don’t. Identify the dislikes that you can change, and make those changes. Identify the things you can not change, and learn to accept them as part of who you are. By accepting, liking and loving your outward appearance, the journey can begin to move within. Having learnt to face a difficult process and tackle it face on, the exact same techniques can be applied to our inner personality and character.

    There are, for sure, aspects of our personality that we can not (or perhaps should not) change – think of that graphic equalizer, in order to keep it ‘balanced’ some things are just the way they are because of ‘settings’ made elsewhere. There’s a saying “Show me a hero and I’ll show you a tragedy”. In the same way, I say, “Show me a strength and I’ll show you a weakness. Show me a weakness and I’ll show you a strength.”

    At the end of the day, balance is the key. That may suggest that an overall happiness may be found in mediocrity, but that is not what I propose. I propose that being exceptional may have unexpected costs. We simply have to learn to accept those costs for what they are or make the choice that the costs are causing a negative impact on the Master Scale, and make adjustments where necessary.

    This is a profound thing! It brings to the forefront that some of us are capable of being exceptional, but that it is ok to not be for the sake of our overall well being, balance and resonance. There are many ways to measure success, not all of them obvious at first glance.

    We are love? Of course we are. Some of us are just not balanced to know it.

    Wishing you well my good friend, and looking forward to hearing back from you 🙂

    Cheers

    Gil

  • John Pollard
    Reply

    Bruce, Bruce, Bruce,

    I’m sorry to see such a strident position but I believe I understand it. You are missing a very important aspect of the “self love” equation, and thus are striking out in frustration against your missing aspect.

    >> Not one of the books actually had a step-by-step prescription for how to love yourself.

    I guess you missed mine. It’s called SELF-PARENTING: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations. Its well regarded, established, etc. You can read the comments on Amazon.

    http://tinyurl.com/2bdeaps .

    The reason you are not loving your “self” is because you have two selves: The Inner Parent and the Inner Child. These two selves have a relationship inside your mind that takes place within your Inner Conversations. Once you learn to separate the two voices and sit down to do what you call “reflective listening” as the Inner Parent with your Inner Child, all your complaints in this blog post will melt away like magic.

    As an upcoming student of your Love at First Fight class I can assure you that if you used exactly the same methods and understandings of LAFF with your Inner Child, within your Inner Conversations (as the Inner Parent) you would be bonding together in exactly the same manner as your outer couples who practice LAFF. Same concept exactly.

    I hope this strikes a cord for you so your Inner Child can get that love meister working on the inside like it does with your clients.

    With deepest respect,

    John Pollard

  • Nick P
    Reply

    What an amazing article…….totally in awe sir!

  • rudy
    Reply

    not so easy to express yourself as a man, it’s seen as a weakness and and to woman it seen as low self esteem or lack or self confidence as a man. i am exactly that type of person, getting needy, jealousy. i have read many articles online about how such a person will never keep a girl/ attract love because it does not create attraction, especially when your are a hopeless romantic. that kinda suck, all those movies were lying, the bad guys always win, i know i really suck too for being mr kind and romantic, but hey, at least i am trying to change for the sake of whatever.this subject is the the Goliath of my life. great post, wish it was that easy, it would make life much easier than having to pretend your not needy nor jealous while dying inside, or acting like a bad guy who cares about jack for the sake of attracting love, really tiresome.

  • Sandy K
    Reply

    Love your work, Bruce. So cool to find out you are another ENTP by watching your cameo appearance on Personality Hackers’ relationship program. I’m collecting ENTPs now. You, Antonia Dodge, Dave Asprey, you’re all going into my collection of awesome ENTPs inspiring the planet. I’m an INTP by the way, and I’m probably the type that needs to hear your messages the most. One of these days (hopefully SOON) I will be in a position to do your full program with my partner. Thanks for doing what you do. Love, SK~xx

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