Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Men: Necessity of Self-Love

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”

Self-love gives one the impression of a narcissistic or egotistic personality, which is not the case, but in actuality a portrayal of the false-self and nothing to do with true self-love.

Self-love starts from within one's self; thus giving one the ability to accept love and extend it to others. In order to give love to another, one must first feel worthy and deserving of love themselves. We cannot give something that we do not ourselves possess.

Over the past decade or so, I have been aware of the abundant articles promoting self-love for women and girls through magazines, television, social media and the internet. However, it is a rarity to see anything on this topic towards men and boys.

Most men I have known grew up devoid of any affection at all, and are actually discouraged from being affectionate through gender stereotyping. The picture of "masculinity" has been defined by society, as in many of our other roles or status. Men that are sincerely affectionate with women are often goaded and taunted, being told they are on a short leash or told they need to be a man or grow some balls.

"Society" has been a pinnacle in defining our roles. It takes great strength and character to step outside that box and redefine ourselves, otherwise we are stuck in the same cycle of a "cookie cutter" definition of who we are told to be.

We were a family of six; my father, mother, three brothers, and myself. Being in the military, my father headed the family with a likeness to a 'drill sergeant' rather than a father figure. He was cold and aloof, and spoke with harsh, unloving words. It seemed as though he didn't have the capacity to be loving and gentle. It was the 60s and early 70s, things were different then; he just didn't know how. However, as a young impressionable child, my subjective perception showed me a picture of his feelings to be a hatred towards meI took it personally. This would set the stage for living a life of my own self-hatred and an unconscious attraction towards men, in my later life, that would mirror my father's image, only further perpetuating the cycle.

My father lacked any paternal or maternal affection as a young boy. He lost his mother to tuberculosis when he was six years old. His own father was neither a very loving or an affectionate man. It is no doubt, the experience of losing his wife and having to care for two young children in the mid 30s played a significant role in his demeanor.

Self-love can show men how to be affectionate to the rest of the world, creating a positive reflection of self-esteem, self-forgiveness, emotional communication, generosity and affection back to you.

For anyone, self-love initiates a positive modeling of affection. For instance, if your best friend was down and out, you might say things like: You did the best you could; Don’t beat yourself up about it; Don’t worry about it; or It’s gonna be okay, and so on. Why wouldn’t you say these things to yourself?

Since love and friendship go hand in hand, you must first form a friendship with your self. If you are constantly doubting, criticizing, or lying to your friends, they wouldn't stick around very long—who would! The same goes with the ability to form a meaningful relationship with yourself.  For some men, they either 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 wouldn't do it anymore, because a good friend would never treat you that way.

It's not just lack of love that affects men's self-esteem, but a trend in body image and the pressure to be perfect, has been on the rise. Today, it’s not only women who feel pressure to live up to Hollywood standards of what is attractive. You see it on the covers of men's health magazines, the actors in the movies, or sexy models in fragrance ads with muscular physiques and strong jawlines. When men feel they don’t measure up to the ideal—with washboard abs and a full head of hair—they may become insecure about how they look, further depleting their self-esteem.

Self-esteem relates to how much you like yourself, recognize and appreciate your individual character, qualities, skills, and accomplishments. Like body image, self-esteem can also be based on how you think other people look at you as a person.

I have heard men say they want a 'real' woman, not high maintenance eye candy. They want someone with whom they can have meaningful conversations, someone who will treat them with respect. Personally, I think women want a man that is going to treat them right; they want a 'real' man. They're not looking for a perfect physique to match some magazine cover or someone who doesn't like himself and is full of disdain for everyone around him. A real man has a genuine smile, a big heart, and gentle words and is comfortable with who he is. 

You may be losing some hair, or you've gained a few pounds
so what! If someone wants the package to look perfect or for you to have a large bank account, etc., rather than what's on the inside; you are undoubtedly with the wrong person!

So do yourselves a favor and stop defining yourself by society's standards, or anyone else's standards. Be your best friend first. Go love yourself.

You can't expect anyone else to give you what you can't give yourself.

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