(This article was originally published here on Movember Canada’s website on March 31st, 2021.)
“Do you love yourself?”
Last October when I was struggling when I was asked that question, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized I couldn’t come up with a clear answer.
Let me explain why…
In 2007, I lost my father to suicide.
After he was paralyzed in 2002 from a hunting accident, he found it difficult to live with his injury.
Five years later, he took his own life.
Then in 2006, I was paralyzed after a motocross accident.
Fortunately, I was able to learn to walk again. However, as my dad left us during my recovery period and those two events led me down a dark path.
I found myself wanting to do the same. I never attempted anything, but it was a rough time.
In 2014, I made Team Canada and was lucky to compete in sledge hockey, helping Canada to earn a bronze medal during the 2014 Paralympics Games in Sochi, Russia.
Following the games, I went through something many Olympic athletes experience – the dreaded Post Olympic Depression.
Thankfully again I never attempted or hurt myself, but it was a lot of work to get through.
If you find yourself being hard on yourself, beating yourself up, or are struggling with depression and/or having suicidal thoughts, here are my top recommendations to help you practice self love:
When you are struggling, you will be your first and biggest obstacle to overcome.
Most of us don’t want to admit when we’re having a hard time and so we prolong the process to seeking help.
First, you need to admit to yourself that you’re not okay.When you are struggling, you will be your first and biggest obstacle to overcome. Click To Tweet
Many people may not realize you’re struggling until you say something.
Once you get past yourself and realize you need support, it’s up to you to reach out to someone – anyone – for that help.
If you are willing to reach out, there are people who love you and would love to help you.Many people may not realize you’re struggling until you say something. Click To Tweet
Once the help is in front of you, you have to implement it. You have to be willing to give it a try.
For example, my dad would often postpone or cancel previously booked appointments with his psychologist.
If you have help available to you, I encourage you to be willing to give it a try.
Nothing will change unless you provoke that change.When you have help in front of you, you need to accept the help. Implement and experiment, until you find a solution that works for you. Click To Tweet
Now, back to the original question: Do you love yourself?
The reason why I bring this up is for a few reasons.
I am extremely proud of how determined I have been through all these challenges. Like I say in my book: When You Have Every Reason To Quit, Keep Going.
It’s just what I do.
That said, recently I’ve had days where I find I’m being especially hard on myself.
It’s not that I’m not willing to admit, ask, or accept help, it’s that despite doing all of those things, I know I can still be extremely critical of myself.
This is where men’s mental health starts to touch some sensitive chords.
As men, we pride ourselves on being strong, holding our own, and not showing weakness. But after my recent relationship ended, it really made me think about that question: Do you love yourself?
In hindsight, I can reflect and see that there were many days where I was experiencing headaches and mental stress, often thinking that “I am not enough” or “I need to continue to prove myself.”
The thought that “I need to have ______________ accomplished first before I can be or feel whole, and for someone to love me in return.” is a barrier to happiness and an example of how we get in our own way.The thought that “I need to have ______________ accomplished first before I can be or feel whole, and for someone to love me in return." is a barrier to happiness and an example of how we get in our own way. Click To Tweet
After listening to the Aubrey Marcus podcast with Kamal Ravikant focused on self-love, I’ve started to better understand some of the questions you might ask yourself if you find that you’re being your own toughest critic.
- Ask yourself “If I loved myself, what would I do about ________?”
By asking yourself this question, you will help give yourself permission to be kinder to yourself, reducing the pressure and mental stress you put on yourself.
- Write down “I forgive myself for ______”, and then fill in the blank.
Do this repeatedly as you consider all of the reasons/things where you might be especially hard on yourself. Honestly, it’s more liberating than you think.
- Make yourself a vow or a promise.
Who do you want to be? How do you want to show up in this world?
We can be so hard on ourselves. We often ignore or minimize those who want to support or cheer for us.
We won’t even allow ourselves to express love because we are too scared of being vulnerable.
When I think about improving my mental health, this alone has made me rethink what it means to be ‘strong’.
Mental health is challenging, but you can take control of your situation. You can take control of your own thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviours by focusing on the “3 A’s” – Admit, Ask, Accept – and by asking yourself “If I loved myself, what would I do?”
It’s liberating and it will help set you free.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, or needs emotional support we urge you to head to movember.com/getsupport for crisis support options. To speak with someone immediately, contact your local 24-hour support service.
Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you develop a resilient mindset:
Download your FREE copy of my autobiography, Still Standing: When You Have Every Reason to Give Up, Keep Going here.