Monday, January 24, 2011

Step #3. How to Love Yourself When You're Gay: Turn Intention into Action

The Story So Far:  In Part One of this series, we covered how recognizing the problem of having low self-esteem is critical to improving it.  Frankly, if you don't see your self-esteem is low and needs to be raised, you'll probably never do anything about it.

In Part Two, we talked about living consciously, particularly as it relates to working on learning to love yourself.  If, as you work on raising your self-esteem, you continuously fall back into the same pattern of self-loathing--because you don't know you're doing it--any chance for improvement will be compromised.    

If you'd like more information on these two Steps, please see: 
1.  Introduction and Step #1, Recognize the Problem (and the Need to Change)          (click here);
2.  Step #2:  Living Consciously (click here).

Step #3:  Turn Intention into Action

So you recognize you have a problem loving yourself as a gay man, and you want to change it. And you realize, in order to change it, you need to break your unconscious routines and live more in the moment.  Now what?

Now, you need to commit to turn your good intentions into action.

Sure, it's great to want to lose weight at the beginning of a new year.  How many of us don't? We eat our way through the Christmas holiday season, we anticipate the approach of summer beach weather, and we know January 1st, a new year and a fresh beginning, is the perfect time to get down to business.  Our plan is a simple one:  to eat healthier and to join a local rec. centre or gym to work-out.

This is our year, right?  We've been talking about losing weight and getting healthy for so long. This time will be different.  We'll make it happen, we tell ourselves.  Our intentions are great, and we're all fired up, especially as January 1st approaches.  But, by the end of the first week of the new year, if not sooner, we've all but lost sight of our goal.  What happened?   

I don't need to tell you what happened.  There are as many explanations, or excuses, for why people don't stick to a plan to eat healthier and to work out as there are people planning to.  The point is, we can say we want to do something all we like, but if we don't actually get off our rear-ends and do something about it, it won't happen.

So, when it comes to raising your self-esteem, I'm asking you to commit to make it happen, not at the beginning of a new year--because, as of the writing of this, January 1st, 2012 is almost a year away--but immediately.  That's right.  This very minute.  Because think about how much you'll accomplish between now and then.  You'll be way ahead of the game, and you'll enter 2012 feeling so much better about who you are.  

Really, when it comes to learning to love yourself, any day of the year can be January 1st.  Any day of the year can be that fresh start you need.  Any day of the year can be the one on which you take those first tentative steps toward not only improving your self-esteem, but also toward feeling better about yourself and your life.

So, commit to make this happen right now.  Turn your intention into action.  I promise it will be the best thing you've ever done.  You will never regret the effort you put into improving your self-esteem.

Stay tuned for Step #4:  Take Baby Steps Forward


  1. It occured to me that with other resolutions you often have a specific goal like lose 10 pounds, quit cheeseburgers, or complete an introductory Italian class. Can you set goals for something as abstract as improving self esteem, or is something that just evolves naturally? Is it possible to evaluate your own self esteem level?

  2. Your idea is certainly a good one, Doug, but to identify self-esteem goalposts during the process of raising it would be difficult.
    Part of the problem for me was, when my self-esteem was in the cellar, I had no idea where I could go with it in terms of making it better, if I could even go anywhere.
    In fact, initially, I didn't even know if I could increase it. I think when you read Step #4: Take Baby Steps Forward, which, if I get my butt in gear, I should publish today (that's my goal anyway), you'll see how incremental steps need to be taken, and, as far as I can tell, they aren't really measurable.
    It's more a case of continuing to hammer the problem one small step at a time until you begin to realize what is possible, until your head begins to rise above the fog you didn't know you were in before. Does that make sense?
    Yes, I think your idea is a good one, and if you can think of ways to measure one's progress along the way, please let me know.
    What occurs to me as I read your comments here is how much work you've obviously done to raise your own self-esteem. Your insights have always been spot on, and I bet you have suggestions you could share with my readers. If that's the case, please don't hesitate. I'd love to hear, as I'm sure my readers would too, what you have to say.
    Thanks for this comment. It got me thinking early in the morning.

  3. I guess you're right. Building self esteem occurs mostly on the inside so it can be hard to measure. I struggle with self esteem issues all the time. Often I can talk to myself reassuringly, and quiet-down the "worry du jour," but emotionally I know it's still there.
    After reading your post, I thought it might be good to write down specific things that I do, and aim to reduce how often I indulge in them. For example, thinking negative thoughts about my carreer potential or my likeability. I could try and keep track of how many times I do that in day. This approach might be too awkward for some people, but then again it might increase the self esteem awareness you were talking about.
    I found a list of low self esteem symptoms, and I find I am especially guilty of numbers 2, 3, and 6!

    1. Inability to make decisions.

    2. Enormous amount of shame.

    3. The need to be perfect.

    4. Inability to handle criticism.

    5. Overly pessimistic and/or critical.

    6. Constantly worries about the future.

    I hope I'm not jumping the gun for your next post!

  4. Doug, you've spoken for a huge number of people here, and I thank you for your honesty. Just by pointing these out, I'm sure you'll get some readers thinking about how they affect their own lives.
    The big ones for me are 3, 4, and 5. As I say in an upcoming post, a big one for me over the years, especially when I worked at the bank, was believing my worth was tied to what I did, and not who I was. I had an a-ha moment when that one finally came to me, but I was also in my early thirties before that happened.
    No worries about jumping the gun on a future post. I appreciate everything you write, and I know my readers, like you, give me such great things to think about that could lead to additional posts.
    My sincere thanks again. I'm confident something you're written here will be helpful to someone else, as most everything you've written has been.