One main theme I find in self-help books is self-love. It is also one of the themes that never really clicked for me. “Yeah, whatever. Love yourself. Don’t talk yourself down. I get it.” For a long time, I interpreted self-love as the absence of self-hate. It did not seem overly important to me. It always sounded kind of soft to me. Sure, I like myself. I’m a nice guy. Nothing to see here, please carry on to the next chapter.
However, in the last month this belief changed for me. I got a major ‘Aha’-moment while reading the book No More Mr. Nice Guy. (I highly recommend this book to any guys out there that even remotely identify with the term Nice Guy, like I did!) The book describes how being nice to people all the time can come from a very wrong place. Beware of the guy who is being nice because he craves the confirmation that he is good enough.
So what’s wrong with this exactly? When a guy acts nice in order to receive approval, this means that he believes that he won’t receive approval when he is not acting. In other words, he doesn’t love himself.
And this will rub off on others. The people around him will sense that there is an act going on. The nice guy will lend you money, help you move your furniture and cook for you. But his self-perceived generocity will remain unanswered with the desired approval. He will stay behind, resentful for not getting what he wants. Remember: nice guys finish last!
Self-love is more than just a feeling. It’s a call to action! The Nice Guy has to learn that his own needs and desires are just as important as those of others. He has to learn that no-one is going to fulfill his needs for him, if he is doesn’t ask people for them.
Note that the reverse is also true. Any time you don’t recognise your own needs, you are saying to yourself: “I am not important”. Some of the following are missed opportunities of self-love in my own life:
- Working 5 days a week, whilst I wanted to work 4 days and have more time to work on this blog
- Not making a regular appointment for dentist check ups
- Accepting when people cross my boundaries, because “I understand where they are coming from”
- Allowing myself to gain weight past what I am comfortable with
- Not going to the events I want to go to, because they are scary
- Valuing other people’s advice higher than my own feeling of what’s right
- Not going to therapy because it costs a lot of money
You will notice that some of these seem very small. But they build up. Luckily, after realizing this I started giving myself this over-due care, one bullet point at a time.
And it’s great fun! You see, it’s not a list of chores. It’s a list of presents you can give yourself. With a mindset of self-love, your support of those dear to you will become a present to yourself.