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The problem with self-love and how to fix it.

As a lifelong secret self-loather, I have always had a problem with this ‘self-love’ thing. Each time I saw something about loving yourself or self-care I would have a strong negative reaction. Something along the lines of ‘what a load of bullshit’ or indeed something less obvious like deleting or quickly moving on from those kinds of messages. ‘Take a moment to love yourself today’ just wouldn’t even touch the sides of what I needed.

In fact, it wasn’t until I unravelled a lifetime’s worth of complex PTSD through therapy and healing that I even realised I was a self-loather. My particular brand of low self-esteem was so entrenched it had developed into a massive subconscious mental pattern that I had been playing with without even realising it.

Fast forward through a few years of deep self-work and I still see the ‘self-love’ thing as being inherently problematic and it still evokes an eye roll from me except now, I know why.

The problem is 2-fold:

1) Lots of us don’t see the value in having high levels of self-love.

2) Even more of us don’t have the knowledge of how to build it.


Self-love can also be called self-esteem and low levels of self-esteem can lead us into tricky life patterns. Our choices about who we are with and what we do. From bad habits that can dramatically affect our health, to not achieving our full potential, low self-esteem can have a crippling effect on how we live. The opposite of these are the benefits of having high self-esteem. When we are in a healthy relationship with ourselves, we operate at a different personal level, giving us the opportunity to create mental patterns that drive thoughts, feelings, and actions of ‘self-love’.


If you don’t have the knowledge of how to create self-love strategies for yourself that are reality based with tangible outcomes, then it’s impossible to do it. No amount of looking in the mirror and saying to yourself ‘I am good’ or ‘I am worthy’ will be enough to break the old mental habits of thinking yourself into low self-esteem. No matter how many hot bubble baths or self-care routines you embark on, it won’t be enough to create sufficient new brain patterns for you to start to believe in yourself.

The thing is the brain requires proof. It needs for you to prove yourself to yourself before it will award you the 'self-love' badge. The brain needs a compelling picture of reality before it will feel safe enough to create new neural pathways that you can turn into habits.

In that case, let's create a new compelling picture of reality for your brain.

I want to share with you a simple, powerful, tried and tested technique for building your personal levels of self-esteem. When your levels are high you will be able to look in the mirror and say, with utter conviction, ‘I love you’ to yourself.

A Capability Foundation for Self-Esteem

Most of us – not all of us, but most of us – build our sense of self-esteem from a capability foundation. Simply put, if we are good at something and we succeed at it we award ourselves mental gold stars, and because the brain creates certainty from reward, we can teach it to permanently believe in our capability.

When we believe in our own capability, 'I did a brilliant job there' or 'I did that' becomes our mental language and that is what fills our self-love pot.

Your capability wheel

Think of it as your personal reward chart that has different capability areas: parenting, exercising, working, leading, relationship-ing, resting, cooking, adulting.

Use this example to create your wheel: begin by adding the areas that you currently have in your life (Phase 2 is adding areas that you would like to grow into and learn to be better at – let's start with what you are already doing)

The Practice

Part 1

For 10 days, at the end of every day, I would like you to filter what you have done through your capability framework and award yourself a mental gold star for anytime you have done something well. Just before you go to sleep is an excellent time to do it, but you can also try it as a retrospective thing when you wake up – filtering yesterday through the framework and doing the same thing with the stars.

The psychology behind this is that every time you award yourself a star you are giving your brain proof of capability which over time creates new neural pathways (mental habits). If you continue to do this with regular practice you can make them permanent, meaning you can teach your brain to permanently operate with patterns that confirm your capability. Knowing your own capability is one of the greatest foundations of self-love or self-worth.

Part 2

For the next 10 days I would like you to get ahead of this process by planning activities that you know will confirm your capability. Proving yourself to yourself on purpose if you like. Think walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift or creating time to present something you have been working on, or cooking something you know will surprise and delight your family or putting an extra plate on the bar at the gym.

The psychology of this is building on phase 2 with purpose because combining capability with momentum is like a turbo boost version of building your self-worth.

If you do this with dedication and hold yourself accountable, you WILL see the benefits. Yes, a long bubble bath will give you a small boost, but if you do this exercise while you are in the bath then you are doubling down on the truest form of self-love practice.

20 days of practice to build permanent mental habits that will build your self-worth and self-esteem.

Now that’s the kind of self-love practice that won’t make me roll my eyes.

All the love


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