Self-Love, with Paul Fishman

April 22, 2020 Kim Forrester Season 6 Episode 1
Self-Love, with Paul Fishman
Self-Love, with Paul Fishman
Apr 22, 2020 Season 6 Episode 1
Kim Forrester

Paul Fishman is a self-love coach, outrageously sassy blogger and host of The Road to Self-Love podcast. Through his work, Paul aims to empower others to love themselves, build self-confidence, ditch the people-pleasing and live the life of their dreams. On this episode, Kim Forrester and Paul discuss the importance of self-love and explore why loving ourselves fully is key, if we truly want to flourish. 

Show Notes Transcript

Paul Fishman is a self-love coach, outrageously sassy blogger and host of The Road to Self-Love podcast. Through his work, Paul aims to empower others to love themselves, build self-confidence, ditch the people-pleasing and live the life of their dreams. On this episode, Kim Forrester and Paul discuss the importance of self-love and explore why loving ourselves fully is key, if we truly want to flourish. 

Kim Forrester:   0:00
Think of the people you love most in your life. Now consider this: did you include yourself on that list? I'm Kim Forrester and, today, on the Eudaemonia podcast it's time to discuss self-love.  

Intro:   0:15
Welcome to Eudaemonia, the podcast that is all about flourishing. Plug in, relax and get ready for the goodness as we explore the traits and practices that can help you thrive in life ... with your host, Kim Forrester.  

Kim Forrester:   0:35
Paul Fishman is a self-love coach, outrageously sassy blogger and host of the Road to Self-Love podcast. Through his work, Paul aims to empower others to love themselves, build self-confidence, ditch the people-pleasing and live the life of their dreams. It's my absolute delight to be connecting with Paul, today, to discuss the importance of self-love and to learn why loving ourselves fully is key, if we truly want to flourish. Paul Fishman, welcome to the Eudaemonia podcast. It is just such a delight to have you here with me today.

Paul Fishman:   1:10
Thank you so much for having me. I feel honoured to be speaking to someone, like, on the other side of the world. Isn't technology amazing?

Kim Forrester:   1:18
Particularly at this moment in time, right, where there are other things that a little more uncertain. It's just delightful to be able to connect Let's get right into it. You are the self-love man. Right? I think that there's a concern out there that people who love themselves would be considered to be sort of self-centred or narcissistic. Do you think that this is true? Is that how you would define self-love?

Paul Fishman:   1:44
Well Kim, I mean, I think we have to start there. We have to start with the definition of self-love. And if we look at the two words that make up this beautiful term, the first word is 'self' and the second word is 'love'. Now, what does self mean? It means the individual. And what does love mean? It means devotion. So to love yourself means that you are devoted to your individuality. And for anyone to say that that is selfish, I have to disagree because the more selfish thing is keeping your truth and keeping who you are - as the only individual that is you - actually inside. Right? So if we are living our lives for others, and we are scared of what people are going to think of us, that is the complete opposite of self-love. And that, to me, is way more selfish than expressing your truth and loving yourself unconditionally.

Kim Forrester:   2:39
That's such a powerful definition because we are pressured in so many ways and, you know, we have these unconscious desires to conform and to be normal. What you're saying there is that self-love is about, sort of, allowing those differences to shine, as well, and allowing us to adore and embrace those parts of ourselves that are different, that are unique, that are quirky. Is that right?

Paul Fishman:   3:02
You nailed that one straight on the head, Kim.

Kim Forrester:   3:07
There are millions of people around the world trying to improve themselves, Paul and looking at your website, some might say that you are, sort of, into self-improvement. But does self-improvement actually connect to self-love or are they actually at odds with one another? 

Paul Fishman:   3:25
So this is a really great question, Kim, because once again, whenever we attach this word 'self' to the front of anything, it's all about the individual. Right? Who am I to say that one thing - self-discovery and self-development and personal growth, like those are all completely individualised things. So for me to draw this blanket thing that says self-love is not connected to self-improvement would, kind of, be just against everything that I teach, which is: if you want to love yourself, through improving yourself then, I mean, please do that. If you feel like self-improvement isn't an act of self-love and, for you, you just want to be comfortable with where you are right here and now, and that's your self-love, then so be it. That is the beauty. It is the devotion to your individuality; the devotion to what you need to powerfully show up as you are, right here and now.

Kim Forrester:   4:23
So once again, it's about absolutely being unique and being authentic. But that leads me to a question, then. Self-improvement, in my mind, is about changing the things that we don't particularly like about ourselves. Right? If we're thinking we have to improve something, it's because we don't accept it as being at the standard that we want for ourselves. Does loving ourselves mean that we always like ourselves, Paul, or can we sort of dislike some characteristics, and behaviours, and choices?

Paul Fishman:   4:52
Listen, I don't think that there is a single human out there who wakes up every single day, just like, fully obsessed with themselves. I think that that, in itself, is more of an issue than waking up every once in a while feeling like, 'You know what? I'm really struggling today.' If we weren't on this specific journey to improve ourselves, if we weren't on a journey of life which is learning and growing and having communication and having relationships with other people. Right? That's why, during this uncertain time in the world, so many people are struggling because a lot of these relationships are either ripped away from us physically or we're having, like, this difficult concept of what are relationships even mean to ourselves. So for us to say that, like, every single day, you have to love yourself, and you have to do this, and you have to skip out of bed and be excited for your life, that would just be really boring.  

Kim Forrester:   5:52
Your answer there is really fascinating because you're talking about this journey of life that we're on. And it takes me back to my previous question about self-improvement because, I guess, if we drill down to it, life itself is about us learning and growing and improving ourselves in some ways. If not improving ourselves, at least becoming a greater version of ourselves. Right? And you're saying there that part of that journey, if we're doing it authentically and if we're doing it right, means that there are going to be days where we're not feeling so crash hot about who we are or the choices that we're making. Does that make sense?

Paul Fishman:   6:29
Yes. And I mean, that is so spot-on in the sense that, like, every single day that we are on this journey to whatever our goals are, as individuals, is a day to be proud of. And there's something that I share with all of my clients. It's this beautiful mantra that really empowers and inspires presence - like day-to-day presence. Because it can be really, really easy to get caught up in what we're not doing but it's really important to do your best to stay present and focus on what you are doing. Right? So, and this mantra is really powerful and I would highly recommend, if it resonates with you, to say these words while looking at yourself in the mirror. So I'm going to share these words now. So this is how this mantra goes. 'I give myself permission to be okay with where I am. I honour the journey and know that I am doing my best. I love and accept you. I love and accept you. I love and accept you.'

Kim Forrester:   7:38
That is beautiful. It actually brought tears to my eyes - the simplicity and the beauty of those simple words. Thank you, Paul. Is that something that you engage in every day?

Paul Fishman:   7:51
Oh, yes. And I actually created this beautiful printout - Pdf printout - of that mantra because what I think is really important is, just like, to print it out and put it on your mirror in your bathroom, so you see it. And even if you don't have the courage or the wherewithal to actually say the words out loud, at least you're seeing it every single day. That's actually something that, if you go to my website and sign up for my email newsletter, I will send you that mantra on a printout so you can print it out and put it on your mirror in your bathroom or wherever you want.

Kim Forrester:   8:24
Now, you haven't always been as aware or as engaged in self-love as you are now. And I want to just touch on your personal story because I share this particular journey with you. Because you openly share your experience in the past as a people pleaser. Right? I know this well. I love how you explain that, in your mid-twenties, you got to the point where you literally didn't know the answer to the question, 'Who am I?' And I think I was at a similar age, too, when I realised that I actually had no idea who I was or what my beliefs were, what my opinions were. And for all the people pleasers who are listening out there, I'm sure that you'd resonate with this concept of being so attached to being whatever other people need or want you to be, that you lose complete sight of yourself. Was that your experience?

Paul Fishman:   9:20
Yes. So what is a people pleaser? A people pleaser is someone who sacrifices themselves for other people's happiness. I believed that if I could make other people happy, that somehow that happiness would then translate to mine. And for far too long, I tried, I went down that road and I never got to that destination of happiness. This idea that, by giving other people gifts or saying 'yes' to going out to dinner when all I wanted to do was stay inside and Netflix and chill, that whole concept was what I tried for so long. And it didn't work out for me, it didn't make me feel good. It didn't make me feel honoured. And my subconscious was, just like, screaming for this awareness that, like, the things that I was doing, I didn't want to do. I was living wholeheartedly for the expectations that I thought my parents, friends and family had for me. Now, this can get really difficult to understand, because this idea of expectations that we subconsciously place on ourselves and blame others for placing on us, is a massive societal construct that I'm trying my best to dismantle. And it's really, really challenging because it's hard to take ownership for all of the decisions we've made because it's easier to blame our parents for saying, 'If you don't go to college to be a doctor, then we're not going to pay for your education.' And that wasn't necessarily my full story. But, like, if you can relate to that story, being like, 'You have to do this or we're not going to take care of you' and feeling so, like, 'Okay, I guess I have to do what they say.' This is a constant thing that we run into, whether it's from a boss or from friends, family, significant others, children. Right? We have all these people telling us, 'You have to do this for me or else'. And even, like, on a media standpoint, 'You have to do this or else. You have to look a certain way or else.' And it just conditions us to constantly look for external validation. And that's where I was. I was looking in the mirror and being, like, 'You've been searching for external validation your entire life, and it hasn't made you happy. All it's made you is even more miserable and even more upset with yourself. So there's a missing piece here, something isn't working out.'

Kim Forrester:   11:43
Yes, see, I frame it as self-erasure. I know I absolutely erased 'self'. We simply do not exist in that realm; when we're in that frame of mind. Paul, are there ways that you feel that my listeners can just check in now and see if they are erasing parts of themselves; and see if they are living simply to fulfil the conditions and the expectations of others? How is that going to be manifesting itself in people's psyche?

Paul Fishman:   12:13
Yeah, well. I mean, of course, if you're listening to this and it's, like, you're kind of like, 'Agh, I don't want to listen to this anymore.' Maybe you're a little triggered. Maybe you're feeling like, 'This is uncomfortable'. Or you can really relate. Those are some signs that people-pleasing, has, like, wield its way into your core. Because the things that make us uncomfortable are normally things that we don't really enjoy about ourselves, and trigger us, and bring up wounding and traumas and whatnot. So I have this four-part strategy that's really, really quick and easy to remember. It's an acronym, and the acronym is PAUL. The P stands for presence. Okay, so you have to get present with yourself. Give yourself permission to focus on the right here and now. How are you feeling right now? Take a deep belly breath and experience what's going on in your body. Right? If you're listening to this and you're like, Oh, I don't want to think about the fact that I've been people-pleasing my entire life', notice that. Right? And then the A is accountable. Hold yourself accountable. Accountable for those feelings; accountable for the actions that have gotten you to where you are, right here and now. And then move into U: unconditional acceptance. You're meant to learn something from this experience. You're meant to learn how to be a better version of yourself; a more empowered version of yourself. Someone who people can look up to and that you can actually even look up to. And then, finally, step into L, which is love. Just throw some love at the whole experience. Like we're humans, as Kim and I discussed earlier during this interview, self-love isn't finite. It's not something that we're gonna wake up one day and just experience. Self-love is you as the individual. Right? So you have to give yourself permission, right here and now, to know that a) you no longer want to live this way, and b) you're the only person who can actually change anything about your life. It's you, and you alone.

Kim Forrester:   14:12
Was there a point, Paul, that triggered you; that compelled you to start this journey towards self-love? What was it that changed the course of your direction in life?

Paul Fishman:   14:24
Yes. So, there was a catalyst of really three, maybe even four, things that were stacking on top of my shoulders that I couldn't handle any more. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that I thought was what everyone wanted me to be in. I was working a job that did not truly value me and was continuing to trigger my wounding of not feeling valued. This is my deep core wounding that I struggle with. And then, on top of that, I was in financial crisis. And I had, like, this breakdown where I literally got up, I looked in the mirror and I said, 'Paul, who are you? Your clearly living your life for everyone else is not working out for you. It's not working out for you. So what can you do differently right here, now?' I left the relationship, I communicated with a recruiter that it was time to move on, and I made financial decisions. And because of that, I was also carrying around 75 pounds of excess body weight. Within two weeks of making those decisions to leave the relationship, to put myself out there career-wise, to make a more financial abundant plan, 20 pounds of emotional weight fell off of me, in two weeks.

Kim Forrester:   15:44
People-pleasing, Paul, is only one way I feel that a, sort of, lack of self-love can manifest itself. In your experience, what are some of the other unhealthy behaviours we adopt when we don't love ourselves fully?

Paul Fishman:   15:57
Right, so big ones are self-sabotage - so, basically, like not allowing ourselves to do the things that we truly, truly want. Not having boundaries - very unclear, if any, boundaries with close friends, family, communities. Even on social media, not having boundaries. Those are the first two that, like, really populate a lot inside of my clients. Another one is, like, the inability to express yourself - zero self-confidence. Just not feeling worthy; a lack of worth. Like, taking any job because it pays, not looking for the job that you know you are worthy of and that you truly, truly want. These are things that, if you don't love yourself - if you don't say I am worth living the life of my dreams, I am worth stepping into my truth and embodying myself as the human that I was put on this planet to be - if you're not doing that, then there is a lack of self-love there that is truly triggering all of these other negative beliefs, and thought processes, and blocks that you're putting in your own way.

Kim Forrester:   17:07
All of those mental habits - all of those behaviours you just listed there - they can become so automatic, so ingrained, so unconscious that I feel obviously the first step is to, sort of, become more self-aware. Right?

Paul Fishman:   17:21
Yes, use the PAUL strategy. Get present.

Kim Forrester:   17:24
The work that you do and message that you share is full of fun and laughter, and dance parties. I love it so much. How important do you feel play and laughter are in learning to love ourselves?

Paul Fishman:   17:38
Oh, I mean, it's second to none. It's the most important thing because the reality is that self-sabotage, self-hate, self-loathing all come from taking ourselves way too seriously. Right? And not giving ourselves permission to play or laugh or experience the joy all around us. Right? There's always two ways that we can view a situation: as something horrible that's happening to us, or something magical that's happening for us. And I feel like that's the initial definition of play. Right? Like, this is happening for me. Yes, I might be stuck inside until ... here, in the States, we've been told that we need to shelter in place until at least the end of April. Right? But this is a beautiful opportunity for me, right here, now, to move more, to do the things that I've been putting off, to have fun, to laugh with my partner, to dance and sing and show all of the talents, that haven't been given the light of day, the opportunity to shine. And if you're not willing to have fun and laugh and know that life is just like a playful game, then self-love gets to become your focus, starting right here and now.

Kim Forrester:   18:51
That's cool. As you've learned to love yourself more, Paul, how has your relationship with others changed? Has it improved in some ways?

Paul Fishman:   19:00
Oh, my goodness. I mean 100% improved because with self-love comes self-acceptance, self-awareness and, within that, the understanding that everything that happens outside of me has nothing to do with me. Right? I might trigger someone who then is triggered to communicate back to me something. But that's just a projection of their personal experience of my reality. And you know, Kim, I've received emails from people saying, 'Paul, a year ago I found you on Instagram and you triggered me to the ... like, I couldn't handle you. So I had to unfollow you. I just heard you on a podcast and I'm back, and I needed to let you know that, like, I just was not ready to receive the message that you were sharing.' And ultimately, this is what we get to learn day in and day out: everything that you want, everyone else wants you to have that. Your parents don't want you to be unhappy. If your parents are unhappy with you, it's really just a reflection of how they see themselves in comparison to you. Right? We're trying to put other people in boxes so we can define who we are, as an individual, because that's how we've been told. We've been turning into a Compare-dashian, left and right, comparing ourselves to others. That's just not a cute look.

Kim Forrester:   20:25
Many of us, in this day and age, we avoid what we would consider to be confrontation. Right? We avoid situations; we text through the information rather than say it to someone's face because it gets awkward. Has having more self-love helped you in those cases? Do you step bravely into situations where you feel there might be confrontation, or do you just simply not see it as confrontation, at all?

Paul Fishman:   20:48
Listen, confrontation is really challenging for me. It's gotten a lot better. You know, the current ... I don't know, what even is happening right now in this world ... has brought up a lot of confrontation that I've had to step through - with events that were planned and clients who are struggling to make their payments and things like this. And I found, so powerfully, that when I say, 'You know, I'm worthy of having this conversation and this person is worthy of having the conversation as well', if I step in as a leader and say, 'Let's work this out', right like, it's just like it brings humanity back into it. It brings human connection. It brings the understanding that, like, the beauty of all of this is, that we're all realising how collectively we all just want each other's happiness. And confrontation has a negative rap. I think that, if we step into confrontation understanding that like, 'I am willing to hear what you have to say, right now.' If someone confronts me in a text message, I will say, 'Can we get on the phone and talk about this? Are you willing to have a dialogue about this? I want to hear you.' However, it's really, really easy if we're texting or using email to blow things out of proportion and, also, just to focus on what you want to say. What about the other person? What are they saying? And it's so important to acknowledge that there's confrontation - there's two sides to a confrontation. Unless you're having like an internal dialogue confrontation, which is a whole other thing.

Kim Forrester:   22:26
For me, I'm just reflecting as you're answering there, and I can see that I probably avoid confrontation because of my people-pleasing habits. And so, I can see that I probably avoid confronting people because I am afraid that I will try to please them rather than stand up for what I truly believe in. So that's just a really interesting reflection there.

Paul Fishman:   22:49
Yeah, that's basically what we're struggling with. It's the fear of other people's opinions. It's FOPO: fear of other people's opinions.

Kim Forrester:   22:59
I love that. Paul, how can we help create environments where others feel more able to love themselves? This is something that you do, literally, is a career; for a living now. Are there things that we, as individuals, ought to do or not do to ensure that the people around us can become more self-loving?

Paul Fishman:   23:19
Right. So this is, kind of like, a trick question in the sense ... or a trick answer. It's really committing more to your own individuality, your own dismissal of toxic silencing and erasure, as you said. The more that you align with your truth, and speak your truth, and your willingness to, just, show up powerfully for you - and, once again, this isn't a selfish act when you are doing it, because you know that it's the only true way that you will be happy. And the reality is, just to divert a little bit, when people are calling self-love selfish, they're actually talking about self-care being selfish. Because, at the end of the day, you don't see someone being, 'Agh, you're being so selfish for being you, fully.' No, they're saying, 'You're being so selfish because you're going out and you're ignoring me.' Or, 'You're being so selfish because you're taking a bath, or you're not cleaning up, or you're not doing this.' That's when people say 'selfish'. And that's only because their core needs aren't being met. The difference between self-love and self-care, it's really important to point out, because this gets confused a lot. Self-love is a mental act. It's an act of gratitude, of love, of acceptance, of understanding for oneself; of devotion to your individuality. Self-care is a physical act. It's taking care of yourself. It's something you do for your body; your physical form. So that's, like, you know, going to the spa, or purchasing something, or eating food. Right? So these are all things that we're doing for our physical form. So where people get tripped up is when they are practising self-care without any form of self-love baked into it. So, for instance, going to the nail salon and getting your nails done and, the entire time, you're focusing on all of the things that you should be doing, that you aren't. Or focusing on every other thing that you could be spending that money on. Or just beating yourself up for getting a manicure instead of spending time with your friends and your family. These are all negative thoughts that are the antithesis of self-love - and basically making that self-care self-destructive. Because all you're doing is, you're taking care of yourself but with negativity in your heart and your soul. And it's going to continue to trigger the cycle of, when we take care of ourselves, that it's not good for us. And that is something that I've been really feeling empowered to reframe the conversation about - what self-care is and how the real, only way to make self-care the most impactful is when you are sitting in gratitude, saying, 'I am worthy of this. I am worthy of this. I am grateful for this.' And, if you can't sit in that gratitude, then it's time to rethink the act that you're doing. It's time to rethink what you're doing because it's not self-care at all.

Kim Forrester:   26:19
Paul, I just love that. That's really, really powerful and insightful. My final question - you've already given us an amazing exercise that we can do each morning in the mirror. But every episode of the Eudaemonia podcast, I ask my guests for a morning reminder. Can you recommend a practice, a mantra, or an affirmation that my listeners can start using today to help them learn to love themselves more?

Paul Fishman:   26:45
Yes, yes, and some of your listeners are probably going to roll their eyes at this. But I am going to challenge your listeners, and anyone who's listening to this, to start at least the first 15 minutes of your day without technology. And see what comes into that space - whether it's just sitting, whether it's meditation, if it's movement, if it's journaling. If it's saying the mantra that I shared earlier or doing the things that you've always wanted to do - just spending 15 minutes. The beauty of starting your day without technology is that it starts your day in a non-reactive state. When we open up our phone, more often than not, there's emails, there's texts, there's notifications, there's things to watch on social media. That creates a reactionary response to our day and we will go in without as much gratitude as when we start with the simplicity of a slow morning. So, something that I love to do to fill this space is, when I wake up, I go to the mirror, I brush my teeth, I have a glass of water and I then, just like, sit in peace. I'm not the best meditator. It's something that I've struggled with my entire life. I was actually raised in a church where we meditated, so like, I've known how to meditate since I was a very little boy, and I really struggle with it. I'm working on it - like, this is definitely the thing that I get to work on. However, just sitting in silence and focusing on my breath, even with my eyes open, has been really healing for me. And that's what I try and do every morning. And I did it this morning, and it's been a while since I did it. And I just can't explain how empowered  I felt to, then, when I opened up my phone and saw that there was an issue that I had to tackle, to tackle it with grace and come from a place of understanding and love, than reaction. And it just, like, it shifts my entire day. And I really want to empower anyone who's listening to consider that. And if 15 minutes sounds like too much, spend the first five minutes. Right? I have no expectation for you to do anything that feels uncomfortable. But I do want you to feel challenged to be the best version of yourself. And, within those 15 minutes, you might find it.

Kim Forrester:   29:05
That is just amazing. Paul Fishman, if people want to learn more about you, and I really encourage them to come and find out more about you, where should they go?

Paul Fishman:   29:13
Yes, so you can find me on Instagram @PaulFishman. This is the best place to get to know me. I have some highlights that introduce me and that is the best place to start. It's my first name: Paul. My last name: Fish, like the things that swim in the sea. Man, like me. And if you want a little bit more - a little more guidance into a self-love journey - you can head to my website . And there's a banner at the top that links you to a five question quiz that's going to give you the best self-love routine to start your morning with. So this will give you the tools to start your day without your cell phone. You just have to answer the five questions, and I will send you the assets to get you started on your self-love journey.

Kim Forrester:   30:01
That is just simply awesome. And, of course, there's links to your podcast there as well: The Road to Self-Love with Paul Fishman.

Paul Fishman:   30:09
Oh yeah. I forget about that.

Kim Forrester:   30:09
Don't forget about the podcast, Paul! It has just been a pleasure and a delight to connect with you today. Thank you so much for your insights, your wisdom and all the love that you exude, Paul.

Paul Fishman:   30:23
It's my pleasure. May I share one final thing?

Kim Forrester:   30:26

Paul Fishman:   30:26
I want everyone who's listening to this to know that, you are listening to this message for a reason. This podcast was put in your life for a reason. So give yourself permission to receive what you were meant to receive, and take action on it today.

Kim Forrester:   30:44
Amazing final words. Thank you, Paul.  

Paul Fishman:   30:47
Thank you.  

Kim Forrester:   30:48
As the poet, Aberjhani encourages, 'Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.' You have been listening to the Eudaemonia podcast. If you'd like to learn more about how to live a truly flourishing life, please subscribe and check out for more inspiring episodes. I'm Kim Forrester. Until next time be well, be kind to yourself and love yourself fully.