May 062011
Depressed and Lonely by Luis Sarabia

When Evelyn asked me to write an article on self-love, I hesitated for a moment. For me, it feels weird for a guy to talk about self-love. But I am well aware that this is merely a view that I have about how guys should behave. But if there is a good enough reason, I am always more than willing to change my views. In this case, I feel it is worth it because some of my readers might just benefit from my experiences. As I wrote this article, it seems that I have a fair amount to say about self-love, making this is my longest post yet. The funny thing is, when I began my journey of self-discovery, I did not set out to find self-love. My holy grail was inner peace. Yet in the process, I learned about self-love as well.

How I Discovered the Need for Self-Love

Growing up I had an idealistic view of love and self-love. I believed that I needed love to have self-love. When I found my true love, my life would not only be complete, it would actually begin. Until then, I had to keep on looking. As such, I never really lived in the now, but kept looking to the future. I suppose it had something to do with the fairy tales and stories like King Arthur that were part of my childhood. Somehow, I got the idea that love was something that would magically happen and when it did, everything would fall into place. But I was to be disappointed. Life had other plans for me and reality was much different from what I imagined.

As I set about finding my true love, I became aware of the depth of my intense feelings. When I thought I had found the girl of my dreams, I fell head over heels in love with her. Unfortunately, when she did not feel the same way and rejected me, I went from great joy to great sorrow. Making matters worse, she avoided me instead of rejecting me outright to avoid hurting me. But due to a lack of a clear answer, I clung on because the alternative was too hard to bear. To fill in the blanks, my mind imagined all sorts of things, causing me to tether between hope and despair before I finally got the message. When it finally sunk in, everything fell apart.

Rejection was not easy to bear. The pain of unrequited love caused me great emotional anguish and I fell into deep depression. By this time, my attachment was so great that I had to struggle to let go of my feelings and rebuild my inner world. I did not learn my lesson the first time or the second time. I had to go through it a few more times before the pain forced me to change. At this point, I realized that I had to find a way to ease my suffering before it consumed me. This led me to begin my journey of self-discovery. My initial goal was never to love myself; I just wanted to ease my pain. But in the process of searching for inner peace, I loved to learn myself anyway.

Nourishing the Mind by Philipp K

The Art of Self-Love

Looking back today, I am amazed at the person I used to be. A close friend of mine often remarks that I have come a long way from the intense, brooding person that I once was. In truth, I am still intense, but I have learned to manage myself better. Even so, I understand why I acted and behaved the way I did. Without self-control, I could never learn self-love and eventually, I would have destroyed myself chasing after illusions. In the larger scheme of things, it was a necessary part of my evolution.

But how did I learn self-love? How did I change my old habits and beliefs that had been a part of my life for over 20 years? The answer is change did not happen overnight. For me, the process happened gradually over many years. As I struggled to stay afloat in my sea of emotions, I tackled my problems as and when they arose. Over time, I managed to resolve different aspects of my problems sufficiently to create calm and order in my life. What follows are the various things I did to achieve inner peace and self-love.

1. Taking Responsibility

The first step for me was to take responsibility for my life. Initially, it was not a conscious choice on my part; my emotional pain compelled me to act to find peace. But in the process, I learned to put aside my self-pity and acted to create inner peace. For instance, I firmly made myself let go of my unrequited love by accepting the fact that there was no hope. Again, I had no other choice because circumstances compelled me to do so. Holding on was like holding hot coals in my hands; I was only hurting myself.

By eliminating the source of my anguish, I learned to take a proactive approach to my problems. Before this, I had a tendency to brood on my problems, causing more unhappiness for myself. But my thinking soon changed as I acted to ease my pain. I slowly came to realize that if I had a problem, the best way to deal with it was to find a solution. And so to deal with my emotional pain, I sought out the wisdom of the ancients.

2. Nourishing My Mind and Changing My Perception

The true source of my problems was my beliefs and thinking. Simply put, my mind was the root cause of all my unhappiness. Without a change in my mindset, it was always an uphill struggle for self-mastery and self-love. I could not let go of my attachments or manage my emotional turmoil well. To make matters worse, I did not realize the cause of my problems until I turned to Eastern Philosophies like Zen and self-help books. But even though the answers were in front of me, it took me a long time to absorb and digest them. I had to go through many rereads and make many mistakes before the lessons became second nature to me.

In the past, I used to be needy and negative. I could not stand being alone with my problems and I was always on the phone talking to friends about their problems instead. Doing so helped me to think less about my own issues. But this was mere avoidance. When I opened up about myself, I could go on and on for hours. But now, I have no difficulty being alone. With my newfound worldview, I do not need to confide my problems to others as often as before because I always take steps to resolve them. This means that when I speak with my friends, I can truly focus on listening to them without any ulterior motives.

Today, I go with the flow instead of struggling in vain. If things do not turn out the way I wish despite my best efforts, I am able to let go with less fuss. More importantly, I have a good measure of my self-worth that is not dependent on the opinion of others. Because my love for myself comes from within, I can tap into it anytime I need it.

3. Loving Discipline

I used to have little control when I lacked self-love. When I felt depressed, I would feed it with negative thinking and actions. When my friends did not behave the way I expected them to, I would flare up in anger because of my neediness and dependence. I also acted as I pleased without thinking about the long-term consequences to others or myself. I used to think that indulging my whims and fancies were a vital part of self-love.

Today, I firmly believe that a crucial aspect of self-love is discipline and self-mastery. If we cannot manage our emotions, they will manage us. When that happens, we end up making poor choices and acting in ways that harm our interests.

Now whenever I feel down and depressed, I make sure to watch how I nourish my mind. I am alert to negative thoughts and actions. For instance, I avoid depressing stuff or listening to melancholic music when I am down. More importantly, I focus on the solutions so that I can resolve the problem at hand.

Instead of flaring up at my friends, I always consider the big picture. I place myself in their shoes to understand why they acted the way they did. If it is not readily clear to me, I ask them to clarify my doubts. In any case, placing myself in their shoes helps me to manage myself better. Lastly, I always consider the impact of my actions and choices on others and myself. If the choice is harmful, I avoid it. For instance, I switched from eating ice cream after dinner to yogurt. By having discipline that comes naturally in all that I do, self-love comes more naturally for me.

4. Never Ending Improvement

In my early days, my development remained stagnant. I was content with my routine ways of doing things and rarely made an effort to change. But in truth, I was a frog in a well. As a result, when my old ways of thinking and habits failed against the harsh realities of life, I had no choice but to replace them.

But in doing so, I have no regrets. In fact, I have never been happier and I truly believe that constant improvement is vital to self-love. Learning to handle life is an important form of self-love to me. It means that I protect myself from needless harm and troubles. Through my experiences, I know what actually works and what does not. What I enjoy is gaining insights into life from all possible sources, from historical figures, to comic characters to self-help books and philosophies. This knowledge allows me to test new ideas that I come across and to manage challenges better. And with each challenge that I overcome, my confidence and self-love grows as a result.

Laughter by Marktristan

Taking Action

For me, self-love was not an easy process. It took many years and many mistakes to shift my thinking and beliefs. Only when I managed to change my old habits and mindset was I finally able to find peace and self-love. This proves two things. Firstly, it is possible to change the way we think and thus learn to love ourselves. It takes time, but we can change even the most ingrained habits if we have the will and the proper approach.

Secondly, many of the ideas and views we have come from external sources. Even if we are habitual pessimists, there is no need to be stuck with negative thinking for the rest of our lives. We can choose to focus on the solutions instead of the problem. Therefore, it makes sense for us to choose actions and beliefs that empower us. If something is not working for us, we have the power to change it to something that suits our life plan better. In this way, self-love will come more naturally for us. By learning to learn ourselves, we will become happier and more at peace with our lives.

Do you struggle with self-love? What problems do you face? What experiences have you had? What solutions do you think you could take to manage these challenges better? Do share your thoughts and comments below. :)

“Enjoyed reading my story of self-love? Well, there’s more! You can also read the rest of the stories written by online personal development bloggers in a Self Love Stories Report. Evelyn Lim started the ball rolling by sharing her story in the post Self Love Story: Lessons from the Heart. She had written it in response to an intuitive call to create greater Self Love Awareness. The report, compiled with the help of Lance Ekum, will be available as a free download soon!”

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  31 Responses to “The Vizier’s Art of Self-Love”

  1. Hey Irving,

    thank you so much for sharing this! This is incredible because I had the same journey! Unrequited love –> depression (2 years!)–> taking responsibilty. After that life became a lot better! I became more and more conscious, took more and more responsibility and last year finally found access to very deep and profound self-love. I found out: I’m loving my life when I’m loving myself – that’s why I’m making it a priority to love myself now. :)

    It’s so beautiful that we have so much in common!

    Alice recently posted..The Millionaire FastlaneMy Profile

    • Hi Alice,

      Hmm, I can’t recall how long I had depression because of unrequited love. It was probably about 6 or more? That was how stubborn I was I suppose haha! It seems like so long ago now. But yeah, once learn to love ourselves better, life really does turn around. We stop making choices and doing things that only hurt ourselves.

      While I won’t wish such an experience on others, it is true that we have this in common and I am truly happy that you have found self-love after what you’ve gone through. Everyone should know self-love and lead happier and better lives.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  2. I too am an incredibly intense person, I think it comes from always working to understand what others are trying to say to me – and clarifying their words. People confuse the intensity and questions with negativity. It took me a long time to realize that I was deeply content.

    Your steps and post are such a great process written out and I think a wonderful sharing for men and women. To understand and be able to use one’s emotions is incredibly powerful work no matter the sex of the person.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Hi Patricia,

      Being an INFJ has made me rather serious by nature. So I always take times to reflect on whatever experiences that happens in my life. That way I can draw the lessons from it and take steps to ensure I do not repeat my mistakes. When I was younger, I merely brooded, but now that I have learned to focus on the solutions and not the problems, my growth has accelerated as a result. What matters is how we use the insights that we gain from events. If it can also help others then it is a great plus point as well. I am glad you found my experiences useful. :)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  3. I didn’t realize that I was putting you in discomfort to write an article about self love LOL!. But I am so happy that you have done it. Sometimes we just don’t realize that there are things inside us waiting to be expressed. And your article shows in that you do have a lot to share about this topic.

    Rejection is never an easy thing to bear. In my case, as you’ve already read in my post, it happened again and again too ha! But without these experiences we would not have learned about resilience, courage and ultimately, loving ourselves enough.

    Without that sense of inner peace, I believe that it would be hard to discover the loving consciousness that you are. I’m glad that you’ve found it!
    Evelyn Lim recently posted..Self Love Series- Love Myself Poem by Charlie ChaplinMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,

      No worries about my discomfort. It’s just one of those things that I have learned to take in my stride. ;) And it is just as well that you prompted me to write about self-love. As you have rightly pointed out, it enables me to see how far I have come and at the same time maybe others can benefit as well.

      It is true. Adversity is there to help shape and mold us so that we can achieve our fullest potential. Without problems and challenges, we will never grow to become all that we can be.

      Thank you for inviting me to participate in your project on self-love! :)

  4. Hi Irving,
    I’m so glad you’ve outgrown those earlier brooding ways! It’s amazing when we look back and see how far we’ve come, isn’t it? We are the ones who imprison ourselves and lock out love – when we realize we have the key – we walk out of our jail cells changed and ready to embrace life. Great article!
    Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition recently posted..The Tenuous Nature of Self-LoveMy Profile

    • Hi Angela,

      Yeah, it was not easy, but I did overcome my brooding ways in the end. And if I can do it, so can others. It is just a matter of taking measures to break down and deal with our problems. Once we manage to remove the limits that we place on ourselves, we truly are able to break free and embrace life more fully and on our own terms.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. Hi Irving,

    The topic of self love is one of the most personal areas we can share – so I appreciate your openness in order for you to help others.

    The route to self love can be difficult for many people. It means being willing to put our emotions on the line and leaving ourselves open to getting hurt. But, these are necessary – even though we might fight to avoid it. The benefits of self love include us also being better able to love others. The two go hand in hand (so to speak) …

    We could all find the power to cope with life if we devoted a little effort to learning how to love ourself some more. It’s like boosting our strength in all areas, as a lack of self love is at the heart of so many of our difficulties.
    Scott McIntyre | Vivid Ways recently posted..10 Little Revelations to Transform the Way You View LifeMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      Glad to see you around! I hope you are well!

      As you rightly point out, the lack of self love is at the heart of many of our difficulties. So to deal with these difficulties, we have to learn to love ourselves. Although learning to love ourselves can be a challenge for many, it is well worth the effort we put in. After all, if we do not love and accept ourselves, we will sabotage our chances for success in everything that we do. This is because we are not in complete harmony with ourselves.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  6. Well, you’ve done it again. Whenever I think you have written the best post ever, you go and write one even better. This is such a powerful post that covers a lot of ground. I can appreciate that this was a tough one for you to write, not only because you’re a guy, but because you are very private and you don’t often share the deepest part of your own story on your blog.

    In many ways, you have written my story, and the story of many others. We repeat our habitual patterns until we take responsibility for them and are willing to change them. Like you, I had to work at it for some years and change came gradually. But now…oh, how much better my life is.

    My youngest nephew is stuck in a victim/waiting for true love mode much like what you describe. He has yet to take the first step of seeing his pattern and taking responsibility for it. I wish he could read your post and break free to move forward. But you have to want it more than you want to stay the same.

    I have probably quoted this poem to you before, but your post reminds me of the Anais Nin poem “Risk.”
    “And the day came when the risk of remaining tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to Blossom.”

    Thank you for a wonderful post.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..That Man Might Be Jesus!My Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      You have done it too. Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly leave a better comment, you go and do just that. It is always a joy to read what you have to say! Yeap, as you rightly point out, I am very private. I rather talk about my interests or finding solutions to others because that is really what makes me the person I am. Thus this article did cause me to hesitate a little, but in the end, it was worth opening up knowing that it might help my readers in some small way. The Vizier should show some vulnerability from time to time I guess haha!

      Hmm I am sorry to read that your nephew is stuck in a victim/waiting for true love mode. I am not sure if his reading my article will do him good. I have come to realize that there is a time and place for everything. Unless we go through certain experiences and experience certain growth in character, we might not be ready to listen to advice even if it is the best one in the world. I suppose in time, when he is ready and maybe with your influence he will have new insights into life.

      Lovely quote there, it doesn’t hurt to quote it again because there is much truth and wisdom in it.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. Hi Irving. I think that for me self-love is speaking the truth when someone I love asks me a deeper question. It is also being willing to freely acknowledge — to myself and others — when I have done something or said something that is not true to my own integrity — my highest vision of who I truly am. Being willing, more than willing, to be flexible in this way is one of the highest forms of self-love I know.

    Thanks for a cool post and keep on keeping on.
    Christopher Foster recently posted..Find peace in the still waters withinMy Profile

    • Hi Christopher,

      There is a very high level of self-love you have there. Being able to be authentic, open and honest to others even about your mistakes is not easy, but it does show incredible mastery of life.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  8. Hi Irving,

    This is really beautiful, and as I read it I couldn’t help but feel touched that you are sharing so much of yourself with us. Thank you.

    I really like how you say (and then proceed to re-inforce thru-out the article) that self-love is not something that happens overnight, but develops gradually over years. And a good thing that is. For I am noticing there’s no end to it. How cool is that?

    Thanks, as always, for a great post.
    Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being recently posted..Introducing My New Life-Shifting Service- EmergenceMy Profile

    • Hi Patti,

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. :)

      For me and I suspect for many others, self-love is a lifelong process. Given the state of the world, there are many things out there that could easily affect our ability to love ourselves. This is why we have to keep on being aware of our own level of self-love and take the steps needed to keep it up. The good news is that the more practice we have, the easier it is for us to regain our balance when we slip.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  9. I always enjoy reading really heartfelt pieces where others offer the gift of their self knowledge and learning. I feel it helps others grow as they can see a similar struggle going on. Thank you for the insight :)
    Beverley/Mindful Productivity recently posted..Can tomatoes help us be mindfulMy Profile

    • Hi Beverley,

      There is so much we have to learn in life that there is simply not enough time. One short cut we can take is to learn from the experiences of others. If we can do so, it goes a long way in helping us to avoid needless mistakes. I just hope that my story and experiences can make a small difference in the lives of others.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  10. Irving,

    I don’t know how you managed to do it and keep your man card but you pulled it off. You talked about self love without me having to dance in flowers or envision butterflies. :-) It is so difficult to admit but so pertainent in my life but self love is necessary. I can’t expect others to love me if I don’t even love myself. You have given me so much food for thought that I will need to fast for the next few weeks to get rid of all the extra calories. Great post.

    • Hi Frank,

      I am glad to know I didn’t give you butterflies with my article on self-love haha!

      If it is love we seek, we have to love ourselves first. When we do, everything falls into place naturally and we reap twice the results for the effort we put in.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  11. Ah, looking into the future for Love to make your life begin. Do I know that story well, my friend. Your very first paragraph grabbed me like a fist around my gut. I was the same way for the longest time. The incompleteness from not loving myself made me search high and low for someone to love me, except that since I didn’t treat myself with love, it just showed people that they didn’t have to treat me lovingly, either.

    Not very good.

    Delena Silverfox recently posted..Jewels Obsession Coupon CodeMy Profile

    • Hi Delena,

      I am sorry to hear that you too have looked into the future for love to make your life begin. Although with so many people being familiar with this story it does go to show that self-love is an important lesson that we all have to learn. I do hope that you managed to learn to love yourself better. It takes time, but with continued and sustained effort you will get there.

      May the Force be with you! :)

  12. Irving, I’m very happy that you have taken part in Evelyn’s series. I will be posting my article on self-love on Monday, and it’s good that another man has taken the plunge ;-)

    There are two things that stood out for me here, the first is the idea of inner peace. You say that you first strove for inner peace, but not self-love, only to come across it later. I believe that inner peace and self-love are indeed the same thing, and by aiming for inner peace, you were also aiming at self-love. They are two names for the same thing, that feeling of contentment, ‘wholeness’, love, and peace inside us. I’m happy for you that you have come so far on your journey.

    The second thing that stood out is the notion of ‘never-ending improvement’. I believe the Japanese have a word for this: kaizen. Whenever I feel lazy, and I’m not motivated to do any kind of help for either myself or others, I think of ‘kaizen’ and I gain a little more energy. The more I think of it, the more I gain energy, until I take action to better myself, the world, or others. I do this so often because the improvements are, indeed, never-ending. We live and breathe kaizen until we depart from this world, and there are no respites. For those who are awakened, kaizen is part of them.

    Irving, every time I read your content, I can see more and more similarities with our ways of thinking. I’d love to continue these discussions elsewhere. What’s the best way for us to chat? :-)

    • Hi Stuart,

      I am glad that you too are a part of Evelyn’s self-love series. I will be popping by to comment on your article on self-love soon. :)

      I have never bothered too much with labels or jargon, but you are probably right. Inner peace and self-love are the same thing. What is important is that I have found it.

      Ah yes, kaizen. Yes self-development is indeed a never-ending process. What matters is that we develop ourselves in ways that come naturally. This helps to ensure that our efforts reap double the results.

      No worries about chatting, we will do so soon enough now that I have got a little less on my plate to deal with.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  13. Irving: What an amazing post and an amazing list. This post is jam packed with such wisdom. Thanks for sharing it and I do agree with you that self love is so important. It is definitely something we should master. Great post.
    Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..10 Things We Know But Need to Always Keep Top of MindMy Profile

    • Hi Sibyl,

      Thank you very much for your compliments! I am glad that you enjoyed my post. If everyone understood the importance and value of self-love, the world would indeed be a very different place.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  14. Dearest Vizier, I sent in a photo to dear Evelyn for the self-love series she is doing and I so enjoyed reading this even though it shared the sad part of your life – heart-break. I’ve been there and it seemed like the very end of the world. I can’t believe how much it affected me. And it seems you went through the same thing but I am ever so glad that you have found your way BACK to love and learned the most important love of all, to love YOURSELF. Beautiful post, my dear Vizier, and maybe one day you’ll share a photo of yourself!! ;)
    Farnoosh recently posted..51 Reasons Why Entrepreneurship Is My Path to FulfillmentMy Profile

    • Hi Farnoosh,

      Yeah, heart-break can see like the end of the world and this is especially so when we have formed very strong emotional attachments. But from pain and sorrow comes wisdom and insights into life on top of learning to love myself. At the end of the day, I would say it is a fair trade since I am less likely to make the same mistakes again.

      I am glad you enjoyed my story. :) No worries about my photo though, one day, when the time is right, I’ll share it as I have shared my story. ;)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  15. I’ve gone to a lot of problems that left me so depressed but one day I realized I never want to go back in that same situation anymore and there I had discovered that I should love myself first and now I’m happy. Self love is the foundation of everything. :) Thanks for sharing this very inspiring post, very helpful.


    • Hi Lynne,

      You are perfectly right. Self-love is the foundation upon which we build our lives. If the foundation is strong and stable, we will build magnificent lives. If not, we will have to struggle with negativity and difficulties.

      I am happy that you have learned how to love yourself first. Your journey from depression to self-love cannot have been an easy one. What matters is that you have arrived and what remains is that you hold on to this awareness. But since you have learned how to love yourself, there should not be too much of a problem.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your lovely comments! :)

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