Self-love is foundational to men and is essential for any authentic connection to manliness and what it is to be male. From “being comfortable in your own skin” to competency to self-confidence, most of the aspects of being a man and being happy with that status stem from an authentic self-love.
However, how do we get it? Although all babies are born without hang-ups and with a certain innate self-love, this can easily be destroyed by parental abuse, neglect or indifference. What, then, allows us to love ourselves just as we are?
I think the first thing is a good relationship with our biological fathers. Unfortunately, in my case, as is the case for many other men, this didn’t happen. While I was blessed with three stepfathers, who all tried various means to “show me the way.” Nevertheless, I was seriously damaged by my biological father’s abuse. In some sense, every little boy deeply desires to be accepted and loved by the man who brought him into being, to be thought of as worthy and acceptable by the first male role model of his life. Failure to receive this bond, led to my asking what must be wrong with me if my basic needs were not met as a child.
The next component to self-love is competency. I think it’s important to a man that he be “good at doing stuff.” Little boys spend huge amounts of time with other boys, showing off their skills playing sport and running around in the playground at school. This is important, because he can feel that he is equal to his peers and thus, be accepted by them. Unfortunately, I was unaware of this at the time, so I always felt “tested” by other boys in my class and, when I failed to measure up to something I was only vaguely aware of being measured by, I got teased and bullied.
The next is self-confidence. This consists of two parts – inherent self-confidence and the confidence that comes from competence. In a way, self-confidence is the result of feeling “comfortable in your own skin” due to acceptance by one’s father and feeling competent and “good at stuff” with the kids at school. Unfortunately, many teenagers, (myself included) felt neither and so end up hating themselves.
So how do you solve this problem if, like me, your childhood background was less than ideal? The solution I found that worked for me and, while it may not necessarily work for every man, I feel it is important to share it so you can have at least some idea on how to go about getting self-love if you feel you are lacking in this area.
The first and most fundamental step was a relationship with God. This may not appeal to those of you who profess no religious belief, but it must be said that the Christian faith has the perfect ideal in the Person of God the Father. Indeed, it can be safely maintained that God the Father represents such an ideal of fatherhood that it would be impossible to even conceive of anyone greater in the role. More importantly, though, is the way that Father God has taken care of me and loved me in ways my earthly father did not. It’s not enough to forgive my earthly father; forgiveness hurts. True forgiveness means coming face-to-face with the pain he caused and choosing to love him anyway. It hurts to face this pain, so we need God’s love to hold onto during this process, so we don’t feel cheated or that we lost out. If I have God’s love, I can feel safe developing a relationship with Him and achieve the feeling of comfort with myself that I didn’t get earlier in life.
The second is to commit to learning skills and abilities that are important to you and the life you want to lead. In fact, I think it is sometimes better to do this later in life, since the stuff my friends wanted me to learn, like how to kick a ball or play catch, are of limited usefulness to me now I’m 44. Much better is to focus on health, wealth and relationships. Hit the gym, lose 10 pounds, get that six-pack! Take a soft skills course, get that promotion, start a business! Learn how to attract women, how to give them orgasms and develop a social circle! It has been shown repeatedly that by focusing on health, wealth and relationships, one’s life can be dramatically improved and you will achieve the dream life you’ve always wanted. You will also create a positive feedback cycle, where your increased competence in these areas will improve your inherent self-confidence and that inherent confidence will then make you bolder in gaining even greater competence.
So these are the reasons why self-love is so important to me and men. I don’t think it is any less important for women. It’s just different for them. They also need to focus on health, wealth and relationships to achieve their life goals. However, women have other women to fall back on. They spent years in the playground forging friendships and honing their social skills. There is a kind of “sisterhood” among them and, while these things can also have drawbacks, I sense that a woman’s confidence has more to do with these things than a man’s confidence does. I doubt whether her confidence is less important than a man’s but it is found in different places. Whereas men are in competition with each other, women find confidence in collaboration.What seems without doubt is that self-love, for both sexes, brings confidence in oneself and leads to the success and meaning in life to which all of us aspire.