Self-Love: A Practice

I admit it – I still hold onto old mental programs rooted deeply in self-hatred and denial. These aren’t natural to me as a man or human being (nor are they natural to anyone), but are mental programs I’ve picked up over the years due to our society being deeply rooted in division, a blindness to our collective shadow and, yes, spiritual sleep.

This has manifested itself in all sorts of glorious ways. Certainly, there were elements of this in play when I became a “world class” pick-up artist. This was me seeking validation from women in a super-toxic way, defiantly trying to manipulate them and the moment to my satisfaction (so that I could feel worthy, with an ‘HB10’ on my arm, ugh). This was also on display during my run as a raging boozehound. I got tossed from my share of establishments, scared the hell out of plenty of friends and even got arrested for driving WAY over the legal blood-alcohol limit in the great state of North Carolina.

Mostly though, there has been a pervasive sense resting just below the level of consciousness for most of my life repeating its mantra: “not enough, not enough, not enough…”. Once you hear this for long enough, you believe it – and that’s when the fun starts. It doesn’t actually matter where it came from either because most of the people I interact with hear the same mantra or something similar (“you’re ugly”, “you’re worthless”, “you’re a pussy”, “you’re fat”, “you’re old”, “you’re needy”).

Living in a state of believing this has allowed me to play relatively small (I’ve had my moments but there is so much more) and hide behind a veil of inauthenticity which creates relatively shallow or distant connections with others making it less likely that I will be hurt or feel the pain, yet again, of abandonment. This is the supposed upside of this belief, though now at the age of 47, it’s worn out it’s welcome.

I’ve spent a lot of time (and, yes, dollars) figuring out the why and how the programs got installed – and there is some value in this – but not nearly as much as I have thought. What I recently realized I needed was a practice of self-love which can create a new, more holistic and aligned (with the truth) pattern.

Here’s what I’m doing now every day. Every time I’ve done it I end up in tears (seriously).

First, get naked.

This is crucial as many of us have all sorts of body shame and negative programs running about our bodies, whether it’s our weight or lack of muscle mass or whatever. SO GET NAKED.

Then, stand in front of the mirror and simply say aloud – while looking at yourself – “I love you”. Say this 100 times (minimum). Start by looking at yourself in the eyes, then take a stroll over your entire body also saying it. Send love to every part of your body and really allow yourself to feel the feelings that come up when you say these 3 words. Also, notice your inner monologue – how are you judging yourself for doing this? Can you love those judgements too?

Do this practice every day for 30 days. Trust me, after that, you may never stop.

When I do this, something amazing happens. I first want to laugh (“this is silly”), then I cringe (these are both signs that one REALLY needs this practice), then I…soften, and really allow myself to feel it, my guard drops and then I usually break down.

By doing this exercise, I see through all the armor and barriers I’ve placed between the simplest form of pure expression on earth – I love you – and my heart. I see how I protect myself from seeming harm. I see a lot of the corrosion and biases from years of hiding and defending my wounds break and fall away. I see how afraid I am to be open-hearted and loving in this crazy (and sometimes damn scary) world.

I see how joyful and easy it can be to drop all of this and simply rest in the purest space within me: the heart space. Here, love is the only fragrance which has no sense of division (“this is worthy of love, not that”, “only love these people, not those” etc).

What I also taste is the truth about love which is that it’s not about schmaltz and weakness (again, all programming). Nor is it about dependency either (a common misnomer). The human expression of love comes with all sorts of possible distortions, though in it’s purest and clearest form – it’s about living from a spacious acceptance for all that is, allowing everything – even self-hatred – to simply be there. To stop judging everything (to even stop judging judgement itself) and to give everything it’s due. Then, by simply allowing for this space to arise, what isn’t real or true kind of magically falls away and my true power can (and does) present itself.

This is the power of being and how centered and unflappable I feel simply resting there. This is not attached to proving myself to anyone – even myself – which naturally gives me more power in the world. For if I know how to feel good, happy and joyful anytime I want – in spite of the circumstances – suddenly my relationships to everyone and everything changes. Anyone can create this for themselves.

Sure the old patterns might come back (it has thus far, though often different or diminished), and I admit I am very much a work in progress in this area, but it’s so worth it to start the day with the only reminder that actually matters – the reminder that I love myself, that I am – in fact – love itself. Most everything else is programming.

Try it!

With love,



Stephen is a writer, artist, entrepreneur, partner and daddy. He has also been known as Stephen Nash, and even Playboy or PlayboyLA (long story, though thanks to Neil Strauss for writing it). He has always been fascinated by spirituality and the urge to create epic, awesome things. This blog features content related to both topics and, often, their convergence.

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