Maybe, you’re too kind to yourself.
Society’s idea of self-love is about morning and evening routines. Bubble baths. Saying positive affirmations. Resting and relaxing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things. I still do them. I know they’re important for taking care of our well-being, and for being kind to ourselves.
But I feel our problem as a society isn’t that we’re not kind to ourselves: It’s that we’re too kind to ourselves. And that’s why most people struggle with self-love.
So what if being hard on yourself is how you build self-love? Let’s explore how to do this.
This is the key to self-love
I’ve failed the 75 Hard Challenge more than a dozen times.
The rules are simple (but not easy). For 75 consecutive days, you:
Can’t drink alcohol.
Have to drink 4L of water.
Have to take one progress photo each day.
Can’t eat cheat meals. So no chocolate, cake, or soft drinks.
Have to stick to a diet or eating plan. You don’t have to count calories.
Have to exercise twice each day for 45 minutes. These sessions have to be 3 hours apart. And one of these sessions must be outdoors. Walking counts.
Have to read a minimum of 10 pages every day of growth mindset material or self-help book. It must be a physical copy.
Oh, and if you miss one task… You have to start over. 🙂
I think the furthest I’ve gotten was 30+ days. Every time I failed, it chipped away at my confidence. At my integrity. At my self-love.
Why? What I realized is that every time I failed to do something I said I would do because I didn’t feel like it, I felt worse about myself.
So here’s what I learned: You are always watching yourself. You know whether you did something or not. Whether you gave it your all or not.
And every time you don’t do something because you don’t feel like it, you give your brain proof that you aren’t who you say you are. This deteriorates your self-love.
On the reverse, every time you do something hard… Every time you do what you say you’re going to do… And every time you act when you don’t feel like it… You give your brain an undeniable stack of proof that, again, you are who you say you are.
That’s the key to self-love.
This is the whole point of the 75 Hard Challenge. To build mental toughness. To build confidence. To build discipline. To do things even when you don’t feel like doing them.
It’s as Naval Ravikant said: Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.
Simply put, if you make the easy choices now, if you give into short-term gratification, if you don’t do something because you don’t feel like it, you’ll have a hard life.
If you don’t feel like moving your body now, one day, you’ll have chronic diseases. If you don’t feel like eating well now, one day, you’ll be overweight. If you don’t feel like saving now, one day, you’ll live pay cheque-to-pay cheque.
If you always wait until you feel like it to act, you’ll be waiting forever. Or you won’t be consistent enough to reap the benefits of the things you do.
So start acting even when you don’t feel like it.
Use the 5-Second Rule.
“The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel an instinct of a desire to act on a goal or a commitment, use the Rule.” - Mel Robbins
Here’s how it works.
If you want to do something but you’re hesitating, count down from 5-1, and then do it immediately.
The idea is that when you’re counting down, you’re creating a sense of urgency that pushes you to act before your doubts or excuses kick in.
P.S. As of writing this blog post, it’s Day 1 of 75 Hard.
I’ve repeatedly told myself I’d do it. So I will do it this time. I know it’s what I have to do to build unshakeable self-love.
So I invite you to join me. If that’s something you’d like. Also, message me to let me know, if you would like me to update you on my progress in the blogs.
Listen to these feelings
I felt alone. Unlovable. And unworthy when my ex and I broke up.
Do you know what I did to heal?
I drank my problems away. For 14 days. Straight. I ended up failing one of my Biology classes because I didn’t write my paper for it which was the bulk of my grade.
Why? Because I couldn’t sit with the hurt. The loss. The feelings of unworthiness. And I didn’t want to.
And do you know how the drinking turned out for me? It made me feel worse after.
And so what I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t run away from your negative feelings forever. Life will keep giving you the same problems until you face and learn from them.
So it’s better to build the resilience. The strength. And the courage to face them early on.
But I get it. It’s hard.
Society has created a culture where we numb our negative feelings instead of facing them.
It’s more acceptable to drink your problems and shortcomings away than to face them head-on.
It’s more acceptable to eat junk than to confront the reality that, maybe, you’re overweight.
It’s more acceptable to smoke than to face and manage your stress, anxiety, and nerves.
It’s more acceptable to play video games all day than to accept the fact that, maybe, you could be doing more, working harder to build a life you love.
I want to change the narrative around negative feelings. They’re not meant to be avoided or numbed out. They’re meant to be reflected on.
Because they’re signs. They’re signals. They’re trying to tell you that something needs to change.
Negative feelings serve as a powerful motivator for building self-love. Lean into them.
Sit by yourself in silence and stillness.
Let yourself feel bad for a change. Sit with any hurt, fears, or uncertainty that you feel.
Journal all of these thoughts and feelings. Try to find the root cause of why you feel the way you do.
Then come up with actionable steps you can take to improve on these areas.
If doing this is hard, start with 5 minutes. Once that’s comfortable, increase the duration.
Take this time to lean into your negative feelings, be honest with yourself, and build accountability.
You are the problem and the solution
I gained +10 lbs in 2020.
I had just moved to Taiwan and started a new job.
After I gained weight, I felt so insecure about my body. And it didn’t help that my ex and I were having problems at the time, too.
But instead of taking responsibility, I blamed my new job for the long hours I worked. I blamed where we lived, on a mountain with zero bus routes, far from any gym. And I blamed my ex for using our bike to get to work because how was I supposed to get off the mountain to get to the gym?!
After my ex and I broke up, I had a huge wake-up call. I realized I was the problem. The reality is, I could’ve had a better work-life balance. And I could’ve exercised at home.
But I didn’t take responsibility for my life because it was so much easier to blame everyone and everything else than to confront my own shortcomings.
And so, what I’ve learned is this: You are where you are because that’s where you’ve decided to be. Your life is a direct reflection of all your habits until now.
Now, that’s not meant to be discouraging. In fact, it’s such an empowering thought. It means you have control. You have the power to change your life.
It starts by taking responsibility for where you are. That’s how you build self-love.
The first place to start taking responsibility for your life is your body.
You have control over how much you exercise. What you eat. What you drink.
Through taking care of your body, you’ll build qualities like discipline, consistency, and patience.
And over time, these qualities will seep into other aspects of your life. And you’ll start to realize that you have more control than you think. You are not a victim.
Today’s Action Step
Choose one of the “Try This” activities above.
And, as always, feel free to message me how it went, your thoughts, or any questions you may have.
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