The Importance of Male Self-Love

Ballers of the Heart, Jackson Bliss, The Importance of Self-Love, Male Self-Love, Why Men Need to Love themselves, Loving yourself, Loving One's Self

Jackson Bliss explains why the world will be a better place when men start loving themselves

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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.

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image credit: Flickr/schizophonia

Other articles by Jackson Bliss:

A Scarcity of Affection among Men

How to Stay in Love

 

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About Jackson Bliss

Jackson Bliss is the author of The Amnesia of Junebugs, The Ninjas of My Greater Self, Dream Pop Origami + Atlas of Tiny Desires. His essays + short stories have appeared in Tin House, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Fiction, Quarterly West, ZYZZYVA, Fiction International, Stand (UK), Huffington Post UK and African American Review, among others. You can find him at www.jacksonbliss.com and on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Nice one.

    For all that the alpha-esque behaviour of men gets criticised, there are quite a lot of men who don’t fit that mold at all. They have been conditioned into subordinating their desires to those of others.

    It is good to break free of that and really begin discovering yourself. Keep up the good work :)

    • Jackson Bliss says:

      OirishM,

      Agreed. And of those men who perform in an alpha role, some don’t want to either. Part of the issue is that for too long, our culture has gendered love so that love is the stuff of hollywood movies, the stuff we’re told women want that detract from masculinity. But our world has changed for the better in a lot of ways. Hopefully the mantra of self-love that is a necessary self-reminder for women + minorities in this culture will also be applied to men too who often love themselves the least. We can’t tolerate male self-loathing any more than we should tolerate female or African American or Asian American self-loathing. They’re all dangerous + bad things happen from self-hatred.

  2. ” 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.”

    LOVE this sentence, Jackson!

    These internal values can be displayed with masculine or feminine energy. I’m strongly attracted to women with this energy.

    I think most women are drawn to men with this energy. It’s an unapologetic energy of both “deservingness” and “givingness”.

  3. Jackson Bliss says:

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for your contributions. I appreciate hearing from you. Yeah, I completely agree that these lessons of self-love aren’t gender-specific at all. The only thing that is, I think, is that it’s still more unusual for us to tell men to love themselves than it is for us to tell women + children to love themselves, but I think it’s great advice universally. I agree with you too that many (wo)men are attracted to partners who give off both deservingness + givinesness–both agree nouns, by the way! Always a pleasure hearing from you SH.

  4. Great article Jackson. Self-love also plays a key role in our sexuality and how we view and treat women. Once we can enjoy and love ourselves, we have less need to use women as sex toys and that immature part of us falls away. Wanting to meet the woman through the heart then takes the lead and the sex may or may not follow.

  5. #7: “People who grow up surrounded by true love, affection, support, and understanding tend to speak love fluently….they stand tall….”

    What an important statement….that solves a lot of mysteries right there….my ex used to say that he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror…I could never understand that….it made me feel so sad for him…and no matter what I tried, nothing ever seemed to change that for him….nor should I have made to feel like I was responsible for trying to change that for him….the psychological damage he endured while growing up had nothing to do with me….I can see that….what was wrong with him was not fixable…well, at least, by little old me….nor was I to blame for how he felt when I was ready to leave him…(truly I should not have been with him in the first place)….

    • Jackson Bliss says:

      I’m sorry you went through that but happy to hear what you learned from dating him. It just goes to show that all of us bring our childhood back into our lives forever, whether we mean to or not. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Peace, Blessings,

      -j1b

  6. A beautiful piece. I love the phrase “the deconstruction of patriarchy.” Patriarchy sucks for men too!

    • Jackson Bliss says:

      Hey Dawn,

      Yeah, I totally agree with you. It’s only very recently that I think men are starting to realize that. Because many men misunderstand feminism + assume (incorrectly) that it’s a war against men, they never realize how fighting for equality is actually better for everyone, both women + men. Hopefully more men realize the truth. Great hearing from you.

      Peace, Blessings,

      -j1b

  7. Neil O'Farrell says:

    Terrific article, one that needs to be read more than once. A lot of us (no matter what “us” means) have internalized a lot of stuff that gets in the way of self love, inhibiting our ability to engage in self love because we simply don’t know what that means. So I tell folks to love themselves in the way that (God, your spouse, your grandmother, your best friend) love you. That gives people a concrete starting point to engage in the self-love affair that will last a lifetime. Thanks for writing this article. Neil

    • Jackson Bliss says:

      Neil,

      Thanks so much. I agree with you completely. And I don’t think it helps that culturally, our self-image as a modest, hard-working, ruggedly individualistic country APPEARS to contradict the notion of self-love, even though it doesn’t. And yes, I think having a starting point is what it’s all about. Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate them.

      Peace, Blessings,

      -j1b

  8. This is one of the best articles I’ve seen about the importance of self-love (in general), and the complex maze that is being a man in this day and age. LOVE it. As a mama to a young man, it humbles me and reminds me where I need to do and be better for him. He was embedded with love, for sure… but I notice as he gets up towards really being a ‘man’ (only 15 now) my reactions and responses are revealing places I still need to heal in myself. You know, triggers I’d get from men, lol, because of my own woundings/patterns/bad habits. That’s not fair to him on so many levels, besides likely undoing some of the good I did raising him. So, thanks for highlighting places I need to pay attention, and how to be a better woman, mother, and one day maybe wife again. :D

    Above all this, I firmly believe that to love ourselves is our first duty in life. No one else can ever fulfill us, and no one can or will ever do it ‘better’. Namaste!

    • Jackson Bliss says:

      Zia,

      So glad to hear you enjoyed this piece + I agree with you about the importance of self-love. Thanks for being part of this conversation.

      Peace, Blessings, Namaste,

      -j1b

  9. Another great article Jackson… Thanks!

  10. Jackson,

    Thank you for speaking truth that so desparately needs to be spoken to men – myself included. This is incredibly timely for me. So often, I seek to resolve feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness by exuding love to those around me, trying to take the focus off of myself and my shortcomings. But it really is a vicious cycle, because my extending no love, celebration or mercy to myself, I leave myself completely empty and unable to extend love toward others. It really does start with us. I love how, in those first few sentences of your article, you throw out those myths associated with “self-love.” So often, “self-love” is seen as a guy getting himself off and being self-absorbed and selfish. Not that getting himself off makes a guy less of a man or unworthy of love, but by changing the definition of self-love to that of believing we’re WORTHY of receiving love makes it all that more of a cyclical, positive motion of extending genuine love to others. As a guy, I need to celebrate my manhood and my identity and celebrate who I am, who I’ve become and who I have yet to become. By celebrating myself, I’m more able to celebrate others with genuine love.

    K, now I’m just reiterating all of your points, but it shows that your post really hit home. From one in-progress man to another, thank you.

    • Todd, I feel honored to have read your comments. Thank you for opening up about your own struggles and gave those of us, who are not men, a peek into the thoughts, fears and concerns of men like yourself.

      I know I am just some faceless chick on the internet but you are totally worthy of love. This I know for sure.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    I agree with most of what the article says, and I especially like the distinction you make between 1) thinking oneself awesome and 2) thinking oneself is better than other people.

    A little point of diagreement here, though, at least in tone:

    “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.”

    That sentence sounds like masturbation is as bad as narcissism and egomania. Let’s show some respect for masturbation. As Woody Allen says, it’s sex with someone you love.

    • That’s assuming that the man who is masturbation actualy likes himself. There are a lot of men out there who masturbate who do not like themselves. So by nature of masturbating, it is infact not always sex with someone you love. Which I think is part of the point of highlighting the euphemism. “Self-love” has become a shallow term used to describe mastrubation when it would probably benefit men to associate “self-love” not as a euphemism for masturbation but as a tangiable way they can actually feel about themselves emotionally and spiritually, and honor themselves on a deeper level than what masturbation actually provides.

      Clearly I am not saying masturbation is wrong. But I’m a little concerned that we would worry more about showing respect for masturbation over showing respect for men and their exploration of really, truly, loving themselves. This might go back to how the world socializes men to believe that sexuality is the only form in which they can express themselves. Which is actually a terrible thing the world does to men.

      • Erin says:
        “the world socializes men to believe that sexuality is the only form in which they can express themselves.”

        That’s a pretty delusional-sounding idea.

  12. Jackson, fantastic piece. While yes, obviously, this can apply to women, frankly, I am glad that you directly addressed it toward men. I think the topic of “self-love” and men specifically is a hugely important one. And there wasn’t a sentence I didn’t like about your piece.

    • Erin,

      Thank you, I really appreciate that. I know we might have our differences but I really love seeing us find places where we can be allies fighting for common goals too (I always thought we might). I appreciate you taking the time to write to me like this, Erin. I really do. Be well.

      Peace, Blessings,

      -j1b

  13. this may sound/feel simplistic…….men are men and women are women….the “issue’ since eternity began is that men were “given” the role of “dominance”…. the battle is leveling the playing field. There are inherent strengths in both genders that are of equal Value…. neither of which is superior. Gods vs Goddesses……..we are in this together. We are all seeking the deepest Love we can find. It’s the Promise of Love between the sexes. Honoring the MOST each gives.

  14. I thought this was going to be an article about the Fleshlight.

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