Jackson Bliss explains why the world will be a better place when men start loving themselves
The problem with the concept of self-love is that it sounds either like a euphemism for masturbation, a pretext for narcissism, or a prelude to egomania. But true self-love is none of those things.
1. In order for men (and women) to love, they must feel they’re both lovable and also deserving of being loved. Self-love begins the transformative process of creating a positive loop inside our brains that gives men permission to accept love and extend it outward.
2. Self-love works in tandem with forming a friendship with your self since love is always part of friendship and friendship is an essential component of love. If you’re constantly doubting or criticizing your friends, they’ll drop your ass (and rightfully so). And if you’re constantly lying and bullshiting them, they’ll call you out on it (again, rightfully so). The same goes with your capacity to form a meaningful relationship with yourself. Don’t bullshit yourself and don’t hate on yourself either. For some men, they either live in a reality-proof fantasia, they struggle with feelings of inferiority, anger, frustration and self-righteousness, or they tear themselves down without knowing it. If you form a genuine, lasting friendship with yourself, you won’t do that shit anymore because a good friend would never treat you that way. Why should you be an exception?
3. As my article on the lack of male affection points out, most men grow up devoid of male affection. Male self-love initiates (and in some cases, continues) a positive modeling of male affection. It’s okay and even necessary to say to yourself sometimes: I’m proud of you. I appreciate you. You did the best job you could. Don’t beat yourself up about this. Right on, man. Don’t worry about it. It’s gonna be okay. These are all things we’ve said (or should say) to our friends. Why shouldn’t we say these things to ourselves?
4. Self-love can show men how to be affectionate to the rest of the world. It’s not that men aren’t necessarily affectionate (though some clearly aren’t), but rather that often times men don’t know how to be affectionate. Even worse, they’re actively discouraged from being affectionate through pervasive gender critiques and rigid gender stereotypes. When men are genuinely affectionate with women, they’re often labeled as pussywhipped, pathetic, groveling, a momma’s boy, paternalistic, a sugardaddy or having no balls. Sweet men are often told they need to grow some. They’re told they need to man up. When men are affectionate with other men, they’re accused of being gay, which isn’t an insult at all but which feels like an insult to young, insecure boys who haven’t learned to distinguish between feelings of emasculation and actual queerness. Promoting self-love in all people creates a positive ricochet of self-esteem, self-forgiveness, emotional communication, generosity and affection.
5. Self-love is not smugness. Thinking you’re awesome in your own way is different than thinking you’re better than everyone else (that’s called being an asshole). It’s different than being overly satisfied with yourself (and hypercritical with others). Self-love is about the recognition of who you are, where you came from, the progress you’ve made and the evolution you’re committed to. It’s a celebration of your moral trajectory into a more complex, balanced, loving and understanding human being. It’s about your passage into higher plane of existence where good deeds fundamentally define who you are.
6. With princess and goddess culture, girls and women are reminded of their inner strength, beauty, and inner power. They’re reminded of their innate intelligence and divinity (which patriarchy both attacks openly and erodes quietly). Despite the obvious privileges of being male in a male-dominated society, one of the inadvertent consequences of patriarchy is that many men actually hate themselves and only begrudgingly accept their lives in part because they become victims (and failures) of their own system. Part of the deconstruction of patriarchy, therefore, is fighting for political, social and economic equality for everyone in our society, which includes giving girls the tools, the (self-)love and the opportunity to succeed in the world. Another part is by helping men and women subvert and transcend gender determinism, gender stereotyping and gender discrimination. Still another part of that deconstruction, however, must be a conscious movement of (male) self-love, as counterintuitive as that is. Instead of telling men they should get over themselves because they’re privileged, we need to start telling men to love and support themselves because honestly, they’re doing a shitty job of it. Ultimately, male self-love can create empathy and compassion, which are necessary preconditions for improving our social ecology.
7. People who grow up surrounded by true love, affection, support, understanding, loyalty and creativity, tend to speak love fluently. They stand tall. They’re ballers of the heart. They’re pillars of strength without even knowing it. Because of this inner strength, they can withstand adversity and are more secure with themselves. People entrenched in love emanate love because it pours from an inner source, overflowing into the world almost accidentally. For many of us who didn’t have the privilege of growing up in an environment of abundant love, though, we need to start somewhere, anywhere, which is why self-love becomes so important now because it helps all of us make up for the poverty of love in our own lives. By encouraging (wo)men to love themselves, we’re strengthening our own culture and simultaneously planting seeds of empathy, self-awareness, social interconnectivity, equality and affection in the cultural flowerbed. Men who are loved become men who can love the world back. The source of that love, however, should come from everywhere, even ourselves.
image credit: Flickr/schizophonia
Other articles by Jackson Bliss: