Here’s how men can love themselves
I’m the son of a West Texas bull rider. Translation: I grew up in a tough, high-performance, produce-for-value environment.
This reality led to some unique experiences, like playing at the US Open at the age of 17. But as time went on, I realized I had lost parts of myself along the way. Because I could only measure my worth through the lens of my performance, I didn’t know how to love all of me.
When I went through the “5 As” process I share with you below, my life was transformed. Today, I believe there is nothing more important for men to do than to love themselves.
I hope you hear me: this is not a call to shut off your intensity or masculinity. Self-love is not in any way airy-fairy. It is the path to a life of fullness, and ultimately the path to a better world. When you learn to love yourself, you can use the energy within you for good, not for violence. And in the process, you create exponential results.
If you are willing to go through these five steps to love yourself more—awareness, acceptance, amplify, affirm, and act—I believe your life will be transformed. Are you ready?
Step 1: Awareness
I’ll never forgot being nine years old and taking that swing at the first game of the season. The ball popped up, the pitcher caught it, and that was that. I was out. I felt a wave of emotion flood through me, and tears rose to my eyes. I slammed the bat down on the ground.
Hesitantly, I looked over at my dad and immediately saw the disapproval on his face. Then I heard his words that I’ll never forget: “Dry it up and get your ass in the dugout.”
And so I did. From that day on, I dried it up and hit home runs. I disconnected from my emotions, and in the process disconnected from myself.
Can you relate? What’s your story of disconnection. Whatever it is, awareness allows you to reconnect to what you’ve run from or become numb to. This might sound simple, but there’s nothing more powerful than waking up to reality.
The problem is that most men do not often practice awareness. But we all know what awareness feels like when we lie down at night. When we’re left with ourselves. No matter how much we try to push the emotions away, they are still there.
So why not practice awareness? Wherever you are, put your phone down and scan your body. Become aware of the emotions, or energy in motion, inside your body.
You might feel your heart beating. Or maybe you sense a density in your chest. Good. This is the first step. You can’t move to acceptance without first being aware of what’s there.
Step 2: Acceptance
Now it’s time to accept yourself. To let go of all that judgment and criticism. To stop saying that what you feel is wrong.
Why? Because what you resist persists. And only what you feel and heal can be transformed.
Many men resist feeling by doing more. The false premise here is that your value is equal to how much you produce. But in doing more, do you actually feel better?
I believe in a different premise: that we must accept whatever we feel in order to truly feel good. And guess what? The better you feel, the more you are open to receive.
So are you willing to accept all of you—all of what you feel?
I love to ground myself in this statement, no matter what comes up for me at any given time: I see you and I’m here. Practice saying that to yourself. That is the heart of acceptance.
Step 3: Amplify
What I’m going to ask you to do next is counterintuitive, but it works.
Instead of running from or medicating what you feel—what you’ve become aware of and what you’ve accepted—I want you to amplify it. So many voices, including your own, are telling you to escape, but I’m asking you to do the opposite.
Why? Because when you amplify your emotional energy, you can use it as fuel. This is a secret power for connected success.
When I amplify the energy in my chest, it feels like a tennis ball going through a pipe. Something feels stuck, but it wants to flow through.
Here’s what we have to remember: internal flow equals external results. If you want real external results, you have to flow that internal energy. Stay with the energy, whatever it is, until the body releases it in some way. You might find yourself in tears, shaking, yawning, coughing. Good. You’re amplifying, which is a key step in loving yourself.
Step 4: Affirm
Now that you’ve accepted and cleared the energy inside of you, you can affirm yourself for showing up for you. Now can say with honesty, I am strong. I am brave. I am congruent.
Not many men get to this point because few are willing to go in and feel. But this is where you get to live from connection rather than for connection. In affirming yourself, you don’t need to reach for love or protection. You give love and protection to yourself.
When I got to the point where I could affirm myself for showing up for me, I realized that I was able to fully trust myself. That was a novel feeling for me. The trust was powerful and allowed me to create deeper relational connection with myself and others. In turn, I saw a ten-fold increase in my finances.
The stuck energy was flowing, and now I could see and love all of me—even the little boy that was afraid. There’s nothing more loving (or valuable) you can do than flow and resolve the scared energies inside of you. When you do, you’ll be ready to take action that changes your world.
Step 5: Action
When you live from fear, you live in a constant state of manic action. When you live from connection, you take inspired action.
But how do you know when you’re taking inspired action? Now that you’ve cleared and affirmed, it’s time to listen to the impulse of the heart. You’ll know when your heart is telling you to do something—to make that call or write that proposal. Whatever it’s telling you, listen.
When you take inspired action from this connected place, you are no longer acting from a place of pressure, escape, or hiding. You no longer buy into the “produce and consume” mentality. You now find yourself doing less and accomplishing more. You do what comes from your heart, and you keep the heart of the world in mind.
Because you have chosen to love yourself, you’re more connected to yourself and others, and the world is a more beautiful place. You have done the work inside, and the work is producing tangible results.
You’re experiencing the many rewards of self-love.
Guy Counseling would like to thank Brandon Hawk for his contribution in writing this post.