“I think a great place to start is to let go of judgment and show more compassion toward ourselves and others” with G. Brian Benson

I think a great place to start is to let go of judgment and show more compassion toward ourselves and others. We are all interconnected. We all want the same thing at our core. To love and be loved. Everyone is going through something and life can definitely be hard, but the more compassion that […]

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I think a great place to start is to let go of judgment and show more compassion toward ourselves and others. We are all interconnected. We all want the same thing at our core. To love and be loved. Everyone is going through something and life can definitely be hard, but the more compassion that can be shared for all the better.

As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview G. Brian Benson. He is an award-winning and #1 best-selling self-improvement author, actor, radio personality, life coach, spoken word artist, and TEDx speaker. As a 4x Ironman triathlete and cross-country bicyclist, Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message he shares with audiences through each of his creative expressions. Brian’s brand-new book “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar,” is now available on Amazon.

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

10 years ago, I was running my family business which was a golf center in Salem, Oregon but I was really unhappy. I know a lot of people would give their “left arm” to have that job, but I didn’t feel like I was being true to myself and that bothered me. I felt like I had this giant gift inside of me that wanted to come out, but I didn’t know what it was …I just knew that it needed to be released. So, I left the business. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I trusted my decision.

While finishing up the last few months at the business I was struggling with finding balance in my life and I came up with the idea to write down a few things to help me to stay in balance through the process of leaving. They helped me so much, even though I was a writer, I decided to expand the list and try and write a book to help others as well. After self-publishing it, it even ended up winning a couple of awards which shocked me, but more importantly, it gave me the direction I was looking for after leaving the business.

I knew that if I wanted to market the book, I would need to overcome my fear of public speaking so I stepped out of my comfort in a lot of different ways to deal with that. I started off by taking a couple of community college speech classes, I joined Toastmasters for a while, I hired someone to help me co-host my own internet radio show, took an acting class and I also created an “interactive” workshop that I could offer people. I really went for it!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Yes, thank you for asking. I have a brand-new book out that I am very excited about called “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar.” I feel like it is a culmination of the journey that I have been in the last 10 years of my life after I left my family business stepping out into the unknown. I was reminded recently by my mother that when I was really little the only word that came out of my mouth was “why.” Well, I brought that “inquisitive” little boy with me along for the ride and I have always tried to be the best version of myself. So, in a sense, I have been sitting in an observer’s perch watching and documenting my own journey of growth, self-awareness and new beginnings the last 10 years. I am really proud of how this book turned out. I feel like I was able to write and capture them in an inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking way. A strong foundation is important to achieve anything especially when it comes to self-acceptance and positive relationships.

I am also coaching and speaking a lot and really enjoying both. I love to connect with people. And of course, you will never take the “Creative” out of me, I have more spoken word videos coming out this year that I am really excited to share as well as a small part on a new TV show called Sangre Negra that will be airing on the El Rey network.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I remember feeling like I needed to be perfect and almost pious when I started writing self-help books. I really did a huge disservice to myself. I am by nature a witty, fun and playful person. I held that part of me back after my first books were written. I mistakenly thought that since I was writing about self-improvement topics, I needed to be a model of perfection for the readers. Which is actually the furthest thing from the truth. I attached a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and became quite unhappy. I just needed to be me.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

Society certainly isn’t doing us any favors with all of the body image advertising coming at us. Advertising that can make us feel less than whole and send messages that we need to buy their product to become worthy and lovable. Social media has also trained us to see only the best of others, while we, unfortunately, compare that with the worst of ourselves. Our self-esteem has been hijacked to only feel validation when others hit the “like” button for us. I definitely think those are two key reasons why the majority of people aren’t satisfied with their appearance. The consequences, unfortunately, are that most of society is walking around feeling inadequate, unloved and unhappy because they don’t feel like they are enough.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

I have always said, “Love yourself and everything else will fall into place.” I really believe this. And from my own self-growth process and journey I have witnessed this to be true. When I could get to the point of truly being alright with who I was, and I mean really loving myself warts, flaws and all and being ok with what I had to work with, it seemed like so many previous issues I had struggled with just seemed to ease away. Relationships became easier because I was coming from a place of bringing the “real” me, not the person that I thought someone wanted me to be. I wasn’t looking for someone to fill my voids anymore.

There is such a ripple effect when we can get to that place of truly loving ourselves. For example, not only was I a much happier person, but my work also became more confident, authentic and honed because I didn’t have to waste a lot of time or energy hiding the real me. There is a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders when we can sit comfortably in our own skin.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

I think one of the big reasons why people stay in mediocre relationships is because they don’t feel worthy or deserving enough to be in a better one. If they aren’t loving and accepting themselves, their thinking might be, “why would anyone else want to love and accept me.” And so, they connect with and end up in a relationship with another person who is struggling with self-acceptance.

If we aren’t feeling as worthy as we should be, we are more likely to attract someone else who is feeling that way as well. The more that we can love and accept ourselves the more likely we will attract someone else who is doing the same. And it stands to reason that two people who are more self-aware and self-acceptant will be more confident in themselves, communicative and open to share and receive love. Which in turn should make for a much better relationship.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times, self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but for our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Agreed, self-understanding does require us to ask ourselves the tough questions. Questions are good, they can help us break through the incorrect stories that we tell ourselves that can keep us stuck. I think one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves is “how does my particular action or way of thinking truly affect me? Is it keeping me moving forward, stuck or backward?” I have always tried to hold thoughts and actions that move me forward. I know it’s not always easy, but it’s imperative if we want to grow and learn to love ourselves.

I remember when I had to ask myself a very tough question. It was a week after I released one of my books a few years back. I was extremely proud of this book and it even hit #1 on Amazon the day of its launch. But after it came out, I found myself really depressed. Normally you would think someone would be ecstatic about creating a successful book, and parts of me were, however, something was missing. Looking back, part of my unhappiness stemmed from my own lofty expectations of how the book would do.

It had only been out a week and it hit the top ranking in its category during the launch, what more could I expect? More importantly, I also realized a #1 book wasn’t enough to make me a happy person. That as we know is an inside job. Instead of loving myself, celebrating and patting myself on the back for a job well done, I felt like I didn’t want to do this anymore. I was tired of pushing, striving and putting so much pressure on myself. At the end of that week, I had to ask myself if I wanted to do this anymore if it wasn’t going to bring me joy and happiness. I knew that I did, I just realized that I needed to start loving and accepting myself more and to enjoy the wonderful journey that I found myself on.

So many don’t really know how to be alone or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

I think that it is incredibly important. Not only is it healthy for us to spend time alone, but it can also offer us so much insight if we let it. It’s a great opportunity to check in with ourselves, process, de-stress and re-energize. All incredibly important strategies to continue to learn, grow and love ourselves. My favorite part of spending alone time is that it really allows my intuition to come through stronger and more clearly. I know it isn’t easy for some people to be alone. If that is the case, take some baby steps to get the process started. Go for a walk or a hike. You might just be surprised as to what comes up for you.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

It’s everything! Like I had mentioned earlier, people who are self-acceptant and loving toward themselves will be more confident, communicative and open to share and receive love with others. I know for me the more that I began to love and accept myself the easier it was for me to open up to and trust others, which is an incredibly important part of a relationship. Not only that but I also began to draw in other people who were more loving toward themselves.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

I think a great place to start is to let go of judgment and show more compassion toward ourselves and others. We are all interconnected. We all want the same thing at our core. To love and be loved. Everyone is going through something and life can definitely be hard, but the more compassion that can be shared for all the better.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

I am a big believer in creating a strong foundation for myself which helps me operate proactively and gives me the best chance to be creative, stay in flow and truly honor myself. So, with that being said, some of my strategies that really help all revolve around achieving life balance. There are so many ways that we can show love and respect for ourselves. Meditation, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, daily exercise, allowing ourselves to be creative and connecting with and maintaining healthy relationships with others. These strategies are all forms of self-love and help me to really listen to and honor my intuition which for me is the ultimate form of guidance.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Brene Brown has a great TED Talk called The Power of Vulnerability which really inspired me. When I heard it, it was at a time in my life where I was learning how to be more vulnerable and share all of me, not just what I thought people expected of or wanted to see. It really touched me and gave me permission to dive in.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I love to empower others to identify their own unique gifts and gain self-awareness. With that being said, I think the key to that is to come to a place of true self-acceptance. From that place, I feel like everything falls into place. So, if I were to verbalize it as a movement, it would be “be yourself to free yourself!” Which to me, means to stand in your power, honor your desires and love and accept yourself for who you are and what you have to work with.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I really like this quote that I came up with to use in some of my past work. “We are all here to learn about ourselves and inspire others in our own unique way.” I feel like it gives me permission to truly stand in my own power and be ok with who I am. I know it can be hard for some people to step out of what is societally expected of them and I was there before myself. But when I left my family business 10 years ago, I began the process of truly stepping into my own path and learning how to love myself.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

Kristin Marquet is the founder of FemFounder.co and TheSplendorStudio.co. She’s also the publisher of the luxury lifestyle magazine, DEFTMagazine.com.

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