After I sat down to speak with Mr Self Love, AKA Armon Anderson a few weeks ago, I got to thinking about the nature of self-love and how we can find ourselves falling into toxic relationships and situations if we don’t have enough of it. The male perspective on self-love is one we simply don’t hear about enough, in a society where our boys and men are raised to pretend like they are always emotionally fine – so Armon’s insight was really refreshing and thought-provoking.
When we hear of toxic relationships, it can be hard to imagine someone being stuck in that scenario while their loved ones just sit back and watch them get mistreated. But there’s a common thread in these stories, and it’s that these support networks are still very much being vocal – they’re just not being heard. Armon describes how it comes to a point where everyone in your life can be telling you to leave a situation – your parents, your family, your closest friends – but until you have that epiphany yourself, those voices will go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes we become fixated on trying to heal someone else, as our deeper consciousness believes that in doing so we can begin to heal ourselves – but it’s simply not reality.
In many ways, toxic relationships start with us – we are the ones allowing ourselves to experience the abuse, so we need to engage in some active self-reflection and start to think about why that is. What are the underlying beliefs that make us think it’s okay to put up with this behaviour? There is something within us that we need to examine. This isn’t to say we are not the victim of horrible treatment – rather, that we need to be truthful with ourselves, examine the part we play and which accounts we are responsible for. Obtaining that deeper self-awareness can only lead to a more genuine and thorough happiness.
Abuse isn’t always physical, and it means that it can be hard for us to differentiate between a bad day or legitimate toxicity. It can be easy to brush red flags to the side, and only when we look back on them when we’re far in the future do we see them for what they really were. Not to mention, many abusive partners get away with their behaviour by quickly flipping between lashing out at you, then lashing out at themselves. People who hurt other people simply do not love themselves. By being disguised under their own self-abuse and self-hatred, we begin to feel sympathy for our abusers and make excuses for their behaviour. From here, it becomes a slippery slope – our tolerance for bad behaviour rises. They are just stressed from work, they are still tormented by their upbringing, they are struggling with xyz – so we let things slide. Slamming the door becomes okay, then punching the wall, then what next?
Armon cites the need to experience pain in order to grow and learn. Sometimes, pain is the growth that we need to learn and do better – otherwise, we would already be in healthy relationships to begin with. Leaving a toxic relationship starts with self-love, and realising that we deserve better. On the other side of the coin, if a toxic person is one that lacks self-love, how can we expect them to treat us in a positive way? We need to change our mindset when we approach relationships – instead of always asking, ‘do they love me?’, we need to be asking, ‘do they love themselves?’ – that will give us the biggest clue as to whether they are someone we can have a healthy and positive relationship with.
Do they take care of their health? Do they allow themselves their own time to fill their own cup, and are you allowing them to have that time? Often in relationships, we need to be careful in the honeymoon phase, as it can sometimes turn into a 24/7 codependency – we become inseparable and start to feel like we can’t live without one another. It’s both unhealthy and unsustainable – we need our own time, our own hobbies, our friends outside of our romantic relationships, so we can continue to show up as the best version of ourselves.
Will he let you be you? It’s so important to prioritise and do what feels good for you, and what makes you happy. Sometimes our partner may not personally agree or necessarily like the choices we make, but if they have a healthy level of respect for who we are, then why would they try and make us change? At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves – who are we to decide that we get to change another person, for nothing more than our own satisfaction?
Men who have that great self love already will love a woman who has it too. It’s the men who have boundaries and respect for themselves, who will love and respect women who have the same things and can stand up for themselves. A lot of women feel they have to please their partner to the extent that they start to limit themselves and who they truly are – it becomes scarily easy when you get deeper into a relationship, and too often we start changing just to please the other person.
It’s a loaded question, and by no means easy to answer, but we have to start by looking back. Armon talks about taking a look back at your upbringing and relationships, and taking the time to reflect and examine why you may have picked up codependent tendencies.
When we end up in toxic situations, it’s no accident – it means that there’s something inside of us that needs healing. Our unconscious has led us to these situations, where we seek out the treatment that we think we deserve. The first step is forgiving, and understanding that everything we’ve been through happens for us rather than to us. By reframing our thinking from a ‘why me’ mindset to instead seeing how our experiences have helped us to learn and grow, everything can change. Once you’re able to come to grips with your pain becoming your growth, and not feeling sorry for yourself, your perspective shifts.
All too often, we place our validation in the hands of other people. We live for hearing the same sentiments over and over again – ‘you’re beautiful’, ‘you’re so intelligent’, ‘you’re so fun’ – when we can just as easily tell ourselves the same things. So much of self love comes from realising we don’t need somebody in our life to be happy, and that the only validation we need is from ourselves.
There’s this dangerous, prevailing notion that if no one wants us, it must mean we aren’t “enough”. If only we realised that we are the best thing to ever happen to ourselves! We have air to breathe, space to inhabit and steps to take – we are existing right here and right now, and that’s the most beautiful thing of all.
The right person will only be right for us when we are in that place of self love and acceptance. The perfect person could come along sooner, but if we aren’t in that place yet, we won’t be ready for them and ready to accept and return their love. We have a habit of looking outwards for an ‘other’ to create our happiness when really we should be looking within ourselves. Once we can be at peace with our inner selves, that’s when we begin to draw better people towards us naturally. If you’re not working on being the best version of yourself, you won’t be able to achieve a vibrational match with the right person, so it’s important to look within – and when you do that, everything changes.
When you don’t love yourself or know your worth, you begin chasing everything with no direction and no purpose, desperately trying to find meaning and happiness. Self love instead helps us to establish boundaries, and learn to say no to the things that don’t make us feel good – and in doing so, we invite what benefits us instead, and make room for the positive in our lives.
Sometimes we feel like we need to justify why we take care of ourselves. When we say ‘no’ to a party invite, we feel the pressure to provide some kind of explanation or excuse – but really, what obligation do we have to explain ourselves here?
Saying no for our own health, comfort and just genuine preference is okay. If you’re surrounded by others who engage in validation-seeking behaviours, need social feedback to feel worthy, or engage in negative habits, they may not understand – but your self-awareness here is key. They might be in the same bar or club for the next 15 years trying to find their way, while you have understood in the present moment you don’t need to seek that validation anymore to fill your cup – and that’s an empowering thing. Your validation comes from within.
So next time you feel like you need to explain to someone why you don’t want to engage in negative habits or behaviour cycles, pause for a moment and ask yourself; what does that say about my self love? We need to love ourselves enough to not have to explain ourselves anymore.
Armon’s advice is to keep reminding yourself to self love and to keep trusting yourself, letting your intuition guide you. Your thoughts and feelings aren’t accidents, and while we are used to ignoring them or trying to write them off as ‘wrong’, if we start listening to them, we can learn so many valuable things about ourselves. We spend the time we should be listening to ourselves instead caring too much about what someone else thinks of us – caring about making them happy and giving them what they want.
We go to bed at night with what we hold onto inside. If we have hate in our hearts for someone, even if they deserve to be hated for it, we are the ones ending each day with that hurt in our hearts. Every time we hold onto hate, we are freely pouring toxicity in our bodies. We are essentially poisoning ourselves with these negative emotions.
When looking back on men who have hurt us, we know that if he knew better, he would’ve done better. It’s not an excuse for what he did – but if he had healed himself, loved himself and cared for himself, he wouldn’t have gone down that path of hurtful behaviour and poor decisions that affected not only him but the people around him (you). Would a man with self love ever cheat? No – would a man with self love ever walk away from their family? No. A man that does those things is carrying deep inner baggage from past traumas, has not done the work to heal himself, and is taking out those negative energies on you (sometimes years or even decades later).
How people behave has a lot of the time nothing to do with us – but more to do with them, what’s going on in their lives, how they perceive the world and everyone around them. We make mistakes by asking ‘what did I do to deserve this’, when usually it’s never really about us in the first place. We hear the phrase “midlife crisis” thrown around a fair bit, but when we look at it under a magnifying glass, all it really is is someone’s pain from years ago that they weren’t willing to heal. It’s just resurfacing now. Eventually, they crack. We label it as a midlife crisis as if all of us are going to go crazy at 40 – but this doesn’t have to be the case if we do the inner work, heal, progress in life and move forward.
At the end of the day, without our negative experiences we wouldn’t be who we are today. There’s an eternal gratitude to have towards those people who hurt us, because each of them teach us something about ourselves. Jealousy and insecurity does us no good, and definitely won’t make someone else feel good. In releasing those feelings, and just letting our partners freely be themselves, we allow ourselves a chance at true happiness. We can fill our cups individually, and come together as nourished souls full of self love to be great together.
Do you have a beautiful love story you would like to share ?
I would love to hear from you! I am passionate about helping women open their eyes to all the incredible things that are possible for them.