Standing in the Gap: Choosing Self-Love Over Self-Bashing

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Real talk, HB: you are the most important person in your life.

I’m serious.

You are the vehicle thru which your entire life is lived. You are the only person in your life that will be there from the very beginning until the very end. You are the person who is with you as you stand atop life’s mountains and you are the person who comforts you when you are in the depths of life’s valleys. You are the person who bears the brunt of your negative thinking and self-sabotage. You are the one who is affected by years of chronic stress and family drama. You are the only person in your life who knows 100% what it’s like to be you.

You are your most precious asset.

Yet you don’t really treat yourself like one. You put yourself last. You call yourself names in the privacy of your own mind. You let people walk all over you and you beg to stay with a dude who treats you like poo (because you’re afraid of being by yourself). You criticize your body for the stretch marks, wrinkles and cellulite. You don’t go after what you really want because you believe that you are unworthy.

You deserve better. Your body deserves better. Your dreams deserve better.

You may have grown up in an environment where you weren’t treated like the precious asset you are. You may have been bullied in school. Your high school sweetheart may have cheated on you multiple times and you stayed because you don’t give up on true love, right? You may struggle with addiction and lack of self-worth. This has been your history, your track record, your past.

You, however, are NOT your past.

Sure, the past may have brought you to this point, but it is NOT who you are. Only you get to decide who you are. What you decide today will take you to where you will be tomorrow. Focusing on building your future is a better use of your energy than bashing yourself for your past and your mistakes.

Last year I read a book called “Unwind!: 7 Principles for a Stress-Free Life” by Michael Olpin and Sam Bracken. The book talks about the gap that exists between stimulus and response.

Stimulus is something happening in your external environment. Response is how you react to it. In between those two things, there is a gap. It’s a tiny gap where you have the power to choose how you want to respond. It’s in that gap where you can choose to respond to whatever is happening to you in a new way or the same way you always have.

When you stand in this gap, you can choose self-care over self-torment. It happens in a split second and it can change your life, if you’ll let it.

  • When someone picks a fight with you (stimulus), you can choose (in the gap) to engage like you always do (old response) or to walk away (new response).

  • When your friend invites you to go eat at Taco Bell (stimulus), you can choose (in the gap) to join her (old response) or to opt for a healthier version (new response).

  • When a business deal falls thru (stimulus), you can choose to wallow and be negative (old response) or to treat the failure like a lesson and start over more intelligently (new response).

The gap becomes the place where you can choose your self-love over the default option that you always pick.

If you said that you are going to work out tomorrow at 5 AM, that’s what you do. 5 AM rolls around and you stand in the gap and say, “This is what I said I was going to do. Let’s rock.” No more hitting snooze on your alarm clock. You are standing in the gap and choosing a new way to show up to life.

If you said that you are going to leave work at 6 PM so that you can have dinner with your family, that’s what you do. No more staying late to proofread a powerpoint deck that the entire team has poured over for the past week. Bonding with your kids is more important than a presentation that will eventually collect dust on a shelf with all the other ones.

Want to uplevel? Okay then, boo, your new best practice is to prepare for the common stimuli in your life.

For example, if you know that the 9 AM stand-up meeting on Monday morning stresses you to no end, approach the meeting differently. Spend some time on Sunday preparing for it. On Monday morning, wake up early, exercise, meditate, eat a healthy breakfast, wear your power suit and review the notes you made on Sunday. When you walk into the room for the meeting, invite God to the party. When you find yourself getting anxious and stressed out, place your hand on your stomach and feel your belly expand and contract as you breathe deeply.

HB, your ability to choose your thoughts, behaviors and experiences is YOUR SUPERPOWER. It’s time to start using it wisely. No more putting yourself last. No more bashing yourself. No more believing that your past is who you are.

Nah, boo, it’s time to make a change for once in your life.

When you’re standing in the gap between stimulus and response, you have a powerful opportunity to choose self-love. After all, self-love is expressed in life’s micro moments. It’s those tiny moments that truly have the power to change your life.

Now it’s your turn. Download the workbook and prepare for your common stimuli.

I’m cheering for you. Like you’ve just had tremendo a-ha moment.


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.