30 Days of Self-Love

Enjoyed the workshop? Want to revisit some of the activities? The complete 30 Days workshop is now available as a book and ebook!

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

Available now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)   To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

“The most transformative 30 days of my life!”

Contents:

Welcome to 30 Days for Self-love!

Self-love seems so often unrequited. Anthony Powell Click To Tweet

Welcome to the 30 Days Self-Love! Starting on the 1 May and over the next 30 days this program will focus on developing and fostering your self-love, as loving yourself is probably the most important thing you can do. Without loving yourself, it is hard to develop and keep good relationships, stick up for yourself and support others.

But loving yourself is not as easy as it sounds: with the stresses of modern, daily life, especially as gay men, it is hard to find time and motivation to look at yourself and see how beautiful you really are. But not only time and motivation are a problem: all too often, it can be the environment in which we live, too. Sometimes even supposedly safe spaces, such as the gay scene, can make it really hard for people to love themselves. With constant demands for being perfect, being young, fit, the perfect lover… the scene, the media and people around us can have a seriously detrimental effect on our self-love. With all the demands and stresses related to these constant demands for perfection, it is no wonder that gay men are three times more likely to suffer than straight men.

In fact, the statistics when it comes to gay men and mental health, especially confidence and self-love are truly shocking: in a recent survey by London gay group GMFA, more than half of the men questioned had suicidal thoughts. Almost a quarter of the men surveyed had actually attempted to take their own lives. 70% of the men talked about low self-esteem, with relationship issues, isolation and not feeling attractive major factors. And while for straight men things get better as they age, sadly, this isn’t the case for gay men: Older gay men suffer significantly more from depression and low self-esteem than both their straight and younger counterparts.

So what can we do about this? The first step is to recognise the issue, and to learn and look at ourselves more objectively, and see how we really are. Just think: if you go into a gay bar, would you think that over half of the guys there think that they are not attractive? Probably not. But that is exactly what the statistics tell us. And I’m not talking measuring men about an abstract beauty ideal here. In fact, more than half of gay men think they are unattractive to all or the majority of other gay men. Is it really surprising then, that so few would even think about themselves as loveable?
But luckily, you have decided that it is time to love yourself. And that is, after all, the first and probably biggest step to a develop a happier, healthier, sexier and more attractive you, no matter what your body looks like. Because, as the saying goes, there is nothing as attractive as someone who actually loves himself.

I should briefly add here that loving yourself shouldn’t be confused with narcissism, arrogance or self-centredness: These are the exact opposites of self-love. Mostly they are behaviours developed to hide crippling self-hate. This is a fact worthwhile remembering when you come across someone like that next: behind a facade of criticising and belittling others, mostly hides someone desperately trying to hide his real self from anyone else.

But enough of the backstory, let’s begin with some points about how the program will work:

The program is divided into days. 30 days exactly (hence the name!). Every day will consist of a brief introduction of the topic or concept and how it helps to create real and lasting self-love.
Each day, there will also be an activity to perform. Most of these will be reflective, but some will be actual physical activities. Some of these activities are designed to be a one-off, like making a list of things you like. Others are activities that you can repeat daily if you want. Each activity will tell you about this.

After each activity there are three questions to help you reflect on the activity and to deepen your learning. If you are following the program online or using an eBook version, I suggest you invest in a small note book to keep the notes for each day. If you are using the printed/PDF version of the program, it will have the boxes to put your notes in printed for you.
Importantly: please don’t skip these questions! They may seem trivial and it is often tempting to just focus on the activity. But it is only by reflecting on the activity by using the questions that you can really create actual change.

The program is divided into three parts:

The first part of the program introduces a few basic principles, such as gratitude, kindness, positive thinking and some skills, such as reframing. These form the basic tool kit for the main program.

The second part then uses this tool kit to develop self-esteem and confidence, and identifies strategies for longer lasting, positive change in the way you see yourself.

The third part focuses on developing a realistic body image and identifies strategies and ways to deal with body image issues, including assumptions about the perfect body and challenging negative thinking. In the round-up, the program focuses on developing resilience for the future.

Before we start though a little word of caution: much can be achieved in 30 days. In fact, many people who have followed a 30 day program are often like changed people. However, change doesn’t just happen in 30 days. Keeping up the hard work and sticking with a few of the tools that you’ll be introduced to in the next few days and strategies you’ll develop during the month will help you to really make the change permanent.

And now… sit back and relax. On Monday (Day 1), we will be looking at the concept of self-love in more detail.

To follow the full program, remember to check back on every day from Monday, 1. May. You can also subscribe to the newsletter (sent weekly) here. I’ll be making the full program, including all activities available for free on this website until 31 May. During May, you can save all the daily activities or print them for your own personal use. After this date, you will be able to download all activities and the full text as a PDF-file – or a printed book.

Take-home message for today: It’s not easy to love yourself, but it is probably the most important investment you will make and the basis of a happier future.

Day 1: Self-love basics

It is not what you are that is holding you back. It is what you think that you are not. (Anonymous) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Understand the concept of self-love and how it relates to self-confidence and self-esteem.

Today let’s start with the very basics of the program: looking at the three concepts which are often confused when it comes to how we relate to ourselves: self-confidence, self-esteem – and the idea of self-love. Of course, it is true to say that all three are inter-connected. But it is very important to figure out the differences to achieve actual self-love. To do this, I’ll first look briefly at the very traditional concepts of self-confidence and self-esteem – and then show how self-love relates to these two concepts.

Self-confidence and self-esteem themselves are often confused and used interchangeably, although they are quite different. Confidence is the belief that someone (something) has the ability and is able to “deliver” on something: for example we can be confident that a performer in a theatre can perform well in front of an audience. In the same way, self-confidence is our own confidence in doing something well. Often this can be very specific to certain situations: for example you may have a lot of confidence finding out about great new places in your home city. But you may have little confidence in speaking a foreign language well.

Self-esteem on the other hand is how we relate to ourselves overall: it is the emotional appraisal of ourselves. It is much more global than self-confidence: a person with high self-esteem, will have little motivation, for example, to show off or try to impress others, as he is happy with himself. High, self-esteem is linked to healthy and respectful behaviour towards one-self. This person maybe confident or not in his particular ability to deliver or do something well.

On the flip-side, people with low self-esteem often hide behind areas of their personality, money, prizes etc… which appear to show their ability. If all fails, people with low self-esteem may often seek refuge in drugs or compulsive sexual behaviours. It may appear as if these people have high self-esteem, but, in fact they are not: For example, someone who hides behind titles, money or other ‘confidence props’, is most likely suffering from low self-esteem. This often becomes a very toxic cycle, both for the person himself and for others around him. People with low self-esteem often resort to “falling back on” one area they are confident in: As they are usually able to “deliver” in the area, the success then makes them even more confident in this area. But this may become an avoidance strategy of dealing with areas they are less confident in, in order to avoid exposing their low esteem of themselves.
For people around them, people with low self-esteem can rarely be a supportive or motivating friend: Recognising the potential in others and helping someone to be better than one-self takes a lot of self-esteem.

Self-love complements the idea of self-esteem. While esteem can be high or low, love (at least true love), can only have one true form: unconditional and accepting. Think of someone you loved. You may be able to identify many, many flaws in that person – but you still love that person. This is the basis of the idea of self-love, only this time, the idea is to love yourself – with all your little flaws and imperfections. Thus, it isn’t blind or exaggerated love for yourself, but a way to see your positives and your little imperfections – loving all of them together. The aim of the next 30 days is to achieve exactly this.

Take-home message for today: There are three different concepts how we relate to ourselves. The most important one is self-love: accepting yourself in a realistic way, recognising your imperfections and loving your strengths.

Activity:
You will need your notebook.

The activity today is to identify areas in your life I which you feel you are particularly confident – and areas in which you feel you are not confident at all. The aim is to reflect on the difference between esteem and confidence, and also identify different areas and levels of confidence for working on during the next few days.

Time: approximately 30-40 minutes.

1. In your notebook draw a line in the middle of the page.

2. On the one side of the line, list all the areas you can think of that you are confident in.

3. On the other side of the line, list all the areas you feel not confident in.

4. Finally, take a look at the list and see how the items on both sides relate to your self-esteem. Identify areas which you may be using as “fallback” areas to boost your self-esteem, and those areas you maybe avoiding.

Please note: this can be a quite challenging activity. Take your time with it and be gentle but honest with yourself. After completing the main activity please complete the reflection questions below. These are an important part of the daily activities. By thinking about the activity you help yourself to “digest” what you have learned and make it stick more easily.

How was the activity for you?

Best thing about the activity?

What did you learn?

End of the Day 1 preview. Day 2 and Day 3 are also available online as previews.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 2: Gratitude

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy! (Anonymous) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Understand why gratitude is so important for self-love and how to develop this skill.

Following on from yesterday, the main area of concern is thus self-esteem. In particular, the aim of the program is to develop not just esteem (it is always there in a form or another) – but a specific type of esteem: Accepting and unconditional love. A love that recognises the little problems, but doesn’t loose sight of the bigger picture. In other words, a love that is based on a realistic evaluation of yourself. Often self-esteem programs fall into the trap of trying to foster self-love based on the principles of “I’m great, therefore I’m great”. It seems easy to repeat this a hundred times and eventually believe it. But the results are less then stellar: either people just force their deficiencies into hiding even more, as they are scrambling to be as truly perfect as they claim to be. Other people start to believe in their ultimate perfection – and develop a completely narcissistic outlook. In this program we want to avoid both: the aim is to deeply and truly love yourself.

Many psychologists, philosophers and scientists have tried to find a magic formula that can achieve this delicate balancing act: The result seems to be that there are a five simple mental tools in which we can achieve this. These five are gratitude, kindness, caring, forgiving and generosity – both for your yourself as well as for others. Together these five lead to a positive outlook on and attitude towards life and others, which in turn is the basis of happiness.

For today, let us focus on the first one: gratitude. Easily put, gratitude is simply to stop, smell the roses and remind yourself how good it is that you can smell them. In short: remind yourself of the good things in life – right now. Gratitude doesn’t mean forgetting about the problems you face or that are around us. It just means focusing not only on the problems but also on the good things. Or in short: getting a more balanced outlook. Of course, it can be difficult to be grateful when you are loosing a job, the days are grey or life just doesn’t seem to be fair. Remember, gratitude isn’t to talk those problems away – nor will it make these problems go away. But if you look deeply enough, I’m sure you’ll always find a few little things to be grateful for, that can help to put the bad things in perspective.

The great thing about gratitude is that it is (relatively) easy to learn, and with a bit of repetition easily turns into a habit. Even better, the gratitude-skill can then be “recalled’ and used as a tool in stressful situations, those situations that could otherwise really get you down. What I’m saying is, once you learn the skill, you can defuse many situations by using gratitude skills to give you some time to breath and put things into perspective. Coincidentally, performing gratitude regularly also increases sleep quality and even has the power of decreasing sickness symptoms (possibly via a strong link to making you happier and loving yourself, which really has a big impact there!). So there really are some very convincing arguments to start some gratitude training right now.

Of course, real gratitude is a bit more than just saying: “thank you, at least I’m alive”. In many ways such a statement is actually the opposite of good gratitude: it implicitly assumes that good things (such being alive) are a birthright. And that is a big fallacy in gratitude: because if you assume you have the right to something, you are most likely not grateful for it!

So what makes “good” gratitude? Here are a few tips to make gratitude more powerful:

1. Really savour the moment
Really take the time to stop, even just for a few seconds or a deep breath, when something happens that you enjoy. Savour the moment!

2. Learn to be specific
Learn to be really specific when you express your gratitude: it helps to make the gratitude “stick” in the brain. So instead of simply saying something like “It is a wonderful day today”, cultivate the habit of saying “Today is really wonderful, because the sun is shining, the smell of roses is in the air, I have some time to be outside…”

3. Remember the most powerful gratitude is showing gratitude towards other people
What makes gratitude most gratifying? It seems the most powerful effect of gratitude happens is when you actually don’t look at what good happens to you, especially in terms of material or worldly things or events. The most powerful gratitude is when you feel and share it with a person that has done something to make you feel good, especially a person you are close to.

Take-home message for today: Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to achieve self-love and happiness.

Activity
You will need your notebook.
Time: just a few minutes extra during the day plus the reflection.

For today take one of each of the three tips for gratitude, and put them into practice.
For today take one of each of the three tips for gratitude, and put them into practice.
1. Really savour a moment that you are having a positive experience (like eating something you like, having a quiet moment on a busy day etc)
2. Find one thing to be really grateful for today and describe it in as much detail as possible.
3. Show gratitude to a friend, colleague or loved one. Express specifically why you are grateful. E.g. Don’t just say “thank you” when someone brings you a coffee in the office. Instead say “thank you so much for taking the time and making the coffee and bringing it to me.”

At the end of the day, use your notebook to briefly reflect on the different experiences you had with gratitude and how you felt about being grateful in three different ways. You may also want to think about incorporating regular gratitude into your daily life. Some people find it helpful to create regular gratitude check-ins or have a gratitude diary. For example, it may be an idea to write down three things you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep.

How were the activities for you?

Best thing about each of the activities combined and overall?

What did you learn from these three ways of showing gratitude?

End of the Day 2 preview. Day 1 and Day 3 are also available online as previews.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 3: Kindness

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. (Mark Twain) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Identify the key role kindness can play in developing self-love – and love for others.

The next of the five mental tools to develop self-love is kindness, both for yourself as well as for others. While gratitude is traditionally mostly concerned with what you receive, the other four, including kindness are, in fact, two way streets: they have the amazing ability of being positive both ways – when used towards yourself as well as towards others.

But what exactly counts as kindness? Kindness is notoriously hard to define: It can be doing something “kind”, like running an errand for a friend. Or it can be doing something altruistic, such as giving money to charity. While it is hard to put a finger on, you instantly know when encounter it. It just feels “good”.

And just as much as it feels good, it is important: Did you know that the number one predictor for relationship success is kindness between the couple? One study looked at what created the most lasting and happiest relationships. Good sex, common interests and time spend together were all unsurprisingly important. But actually, when psychologists looked at what kept long-term couples together, they found the one thing that predicted both relationship longevity and relationship satisfaction the strongest was that both parties showed signs of kindness towards each other.

So, while kindness can do amazing things for your relationship, it can do even more amazing things for you:
1) Kindness is a way to connect to people
Simply put, it brings people together. A random act of kindness opens up small spaces where personal relationships can develop. They may not last for long in many cases, but they are seldom forgotten.
2) Kindness is contagious
Talk about karma and kindness: spaces and places where people care for each other have a completely different vibe then places where people try to compete with each other. Why? Even if kindness isn’t immediately reciprocated, it creates an atmosphere of kindness that is hard to escape – and very enjoyable! It lifts the mood of everyone around, including the person that has been kind.
3) Kindness makes a massive difference
Most people remember vividly acts of kindness, or even just kind words or a smile when they needed them. Although the giver may not always get an immediate kind response back, but he will have the knowledge that he has done something to really change the day of someone.

So what makes good kindness?
Some simple rules explain what makes kindness good kindness:
1) Be unconditionally kind
People may not immediately be kind back to you, maybe they are in a bad place at the time. But trust in the karma of kindness. So be kind because you want to be kind.
2) Genuinely care
Probably the most defining characteristic and simple trick to make normal actions kind actions is to inject just a little bit of care and empathy into them. Think how the other person feels and act how you would want to be treated in that situation.
3) Think of the other as a friend
If you’d treat a good friend like that, it is probably kind. That, by the way, includes treating yourself as a good friend!

And one thing that kindness is not… Kindness is not unconditional people pleasing. Recall the “good friend” rule from above. So kindness is not about doing everything that others want, and even less making your own self-esteem dependent on the approval of others. Kindness is treating people well, honest, helpful and friendly – as you would treat a friend. It is about making a positive difference, not being a slave to someone else.

Take-home message for today: Kindness is about being a good friend to yourself and to others.

Activity
You will need your notebook.

Time: 20 minutes extra during the day plus the reflection.

Today’s activity is about using kindness not just on others, but also on yourself. Often, people struggle with being kind to themselves, even if they are very kind towards other people around them. The activity today tries to bring the two together.

1. Think of a situation where a really good friend feels bad. Think in detail about how you respond to the friend, what you would do etc. and write this down on a list.

2. Now think of a similar situation where you feel bad. How do you usually respond to yourself feeling bad? Again write this down on a list.

3. Compare the two lists? Are there many similarities? Or are there many differences in how you’d treat your friend vs yourself? Why would you treat yourself differently?

4. Make a list how you should respond to yourself when you feel bad, based on your reflections above. Put this list in a safe place, so when you feel bad the next time, you can easily reach it and remind yourself.

Finally, think of the activity and record your reflections.

How was the activity for you?

Best thing about the activity?

What did you learn?

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 4: Self-Care

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s the foundation for caring about others. Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Understanding that caring for yourself and others go hand in hand.

Regularly caring for yourself can seem like it is selfish. It also seems a contradiction to helping others: but it isn’t. At least not, if it is practiced in a way that is balanced with helping others (which in turn is a really great impetus for self-love). In fact, when self-care is exercised as balanced activity, it makes sure you have the power and ability to help others. Thus, it is an essential part of caring for others – and critical for maintaining you in a healthy and happy state. Self-care thus helps to avoid what is often referred to as compassion-fatigue, a state of mind where the person doesn’t want to help anymore. Compassion-fatigue in turn is can lead to less engagement with others and the community, and thus reduces an important source of self-love.

Yesterday you already looked at kindness not just towards others, but also towards yourself. Today it is time to look at regular self-care activities you can

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 30: Review

Your life doesn’t get better by chance. It gets better by change. (Jim Rohn) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: A quick review of all the main topics – and planning ahead!

You have reached the final day of this 30 Days workshop. Well done and congratulations on completing the entire journey!

Over the last month, the workshop has introduced many small (and sometimes not so small) tricks, tools and ways to increase your self-love. While completing yesterday’s activity, hopefully, you already noticed a few positive changes to your life. Let’s quickly recap the main topic areas:

Firstly, we looked at the three concepts self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love. Remember: they are often related but very different in the way they play out. The most important one for your personal happiness and satisfaction with life: self-love. Self-love has nothing to do with narcissism (which is

 

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from this site


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 29: Gains and Progress

Let the gains begin! Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Review the personal journey you have made over the course of this program.

Well done on reaching almost the end of the 30 day program! Before we review all of the key messages of the 30 days tomorrow, today is your opportunity of reviewing your immense personal journey that you have made.

The most important thing is now that you keep up the great work that you have started. Making changes is never an easy process. You were probably used to doing things and seeing yourself in the old way for a very

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from this site


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 28: Coping Statements

These are just feelings and they will pass. Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Identify a series of coping statements

As the final step in building ways to deal with potential setbacks or problem situations on your way to a happier and more self-loving person, today’s focus will be on developing a set of coping statements.

Coping statements are small, supportive sayings, ideas or quotes that help you through tough times. They are an example of positive self-talk, which you can recall when a situation gets challenging. There is really no

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from this site


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU

Day 27: Strategies for dealing with problems

You can’t control every situation. But you can control how you deal with it. Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Identify strategies to deal with potential problem situations.

Yesterday you identified the Top 5 most impactful potential problem situations, either as single situations – or a chain of events. Today’s activity will ask you to develop a strategy to deal with these.

Now that you had some time to think about the situations, let’s think of ways to deal with them. You have probably already thought through a few potential solutions for the situations when you first wrote them down. Now it is time to commit to them, and think of

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here


30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
Amazon:   US – UK – CADE – FRIT – IN – JP – BR
Amazon Kindle: USUKCADEFRITNLINJPBRAU