In this episode of On Purpose, Jay Shetty interviewed Humble the Poet, the Canadian rapper, spoken word artist, designer, poet, and international best-selling author.

He recently launched his new book, How To Be Loved: Simple Truths for Going Easier on Yourself, Embracing Imperfection, and Loving Your Way to a Better Life.

The book contains practical tips and personal anecdotes about the artist's journey to self-love and acceptance. It covers topics such as vulnerability, forgiveness, and self-care. He encourages readers to be kinder to themselves and to practice self-love to create more meaningful and fulfilling relationships with others.

Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect

Understanding the difference between self-esteem and self-respect and how it relates to the journey of love is essential. Humble the Poet defined self-esteem as external and self-respect as internal. He explained to Jay Shetty that they couldn't coexist because the more self-respect one has, the less self-esteem one needs.

Humble the Poet emphasized the importance of focusing on self-respect by honoring commitments, doing hard things, and focusing on progress rather than perfection. He explained to Jay Shetty that society often sells us external things like attention, control, power, admiration, beauty, and success. They can feel like love but are actually "bootleg love." He also encouraged setting intentions instead of expectations and focusing on progress rather than end goals.

Vulnerability as A Strength

Jay Shetty noted that people often mistake attention, validation, and compliments for love. In reality, love requires vulnerability and imperfection. He shared a story of coaching a CEO who was hesitant to share their mental health challenges with their team because they saw themselves as the strong ones.

Developing self-respect through personal commitments and vulnerability in relationships is vital. Humble the Poet summarized it well when he said, "The only way to develop a deep connection with somebody is through your vulnerabilities. . . .Vulnerability comes through self-respect, being brave enough to admit where you're difficult to be with, what you struggle with, what your challenges are."

You need to become comfortable with discomfort and sit with pain to experience love. The artist noted that society teaches us to prioritize convenience and comfort while avoiding discomfort. But this mindset doesn't allow for growth or meaningful connections.

He told Jay Shetty, "Establishing boundaries will reduce the amount of people that want to be around you because so many people enjoy crossing boundaries. . . .But it's important to establish boundaries; it's important to show your teeth." The artist emphasized the importance of vulnerability and admitting where you're having trouble, stating that "the strongest thing you can do is be vulnerable."

Striving to Be Liked

Ancient anxieties of danger come with feeling left out and rejected. Humble the Poet explained that in the past, being ostracized from one's community could lead to death. This is why modern society places such a high value on likeability and acceptance.

The artist shared his personal experience of viewing vulnerability as a weakness. He grew up in a household that valued self-regulation and toughness. However, the artist realized that his inability to empathize with others was due to the emotional fortress he had built around himself. He learned genuine empathy means feeling someone's pain, not just trying to solve their problems or shut them up. He emphasized that the ultimate strength is admitting one's struggles and sitting with one's pain.

You must learn to set boundaries and stop compromising your values to appear friendly and likable. Jay Shetty pointed out that the desire to be perceived as nice often leads people to avoid setting boundaries, even when doing so would be in their best interest.

Humble the Poet explained that people often prioritize short-term gratification over long-term relationships. He shared his experience of feeling valued when people came to him with their problems, even though the conversations were often one-sided. He never felt comfortable being vulnerable. His therapist helped him realize that this pattern was building resentment, which would ultimately harm his relationships in the long run.

Humble the Poet also told Jay Shetty that many people develop this need to be needed in childhood when they learn to find their value in helping others. As adults, however, they fail to update this perspective and see life in overly simplistic terms.

In his childhood, he blamed himself for making his mother angry when he got sick and vomited all over the bathroom. He later realized that her reaction was not his fault. Still, the incident stuck with him and influenced his behavior as an adult.

Gratitude vs. Guilt

Humble the Poet shared his journey as an artist. In the beginning, he often crashed on people's couches and felt guilty about accepting their help. However, he recognized that this guilt was not authentic gratitude but a fear-based response to his situation. Jay Shetty added that when people fear being unlikeable, they often close themselves off to love and miss out on healthy relationships.

Humble the Poet emphasized the importance of establishing boundaries, even though it may be uncomfortable in the short term. He explained that people who respect others' boundaries are more likely to stay in their lives and build healthy relationships.

He shared: "We're chasing pleasure to medicate our lack of peace, when the peace would [actually] come from establishing boundaries."

Love Bombing

Jay Shetty shared his experience with love bombing. He explained how he would show interest in a girl only to win her over and then retreat.

To avoid falling into the trap of love bombing, you must be intentional about what you want in a person. Humble the Poet advised against chasing the "spark" and encouraged the audience to ask themselves what they want in a partner.

To figure this out, the artist shared an activity he did in therapy; he had to relive his entire love life and write it all down. He then had to highlight the moments where he felt warmth or love, which helped him figure out what he wanted in a partner.

Jay Shetty added that when he went out on the streets and asked people what they were looking for in a partner, most said things like a nice smile, a good sense of humor, and good looks. However, people must focus on the feelings these qualities give them rather than just the details. For example, someone might think they want a wealthy partner, but they really want someone who can take care of them.

Humble the Poet believes that when people get specific about what they care about and how it makes them feel, love bombing won't work. Moreover, he noted that people should be aware of their biases and assumptions regarding love bombing. For example, someone might assume that someone who wears expensive shoes is looking for someone with money. So they will try to impress them with a Rolex or a nice car.

However, they might be utterly off-base about what that person wants in a partner. Therefore, the artist encourages people to be authentic and not try to be someone they're not just to win someone over.

It is essential to figure out what you want in a partner and to communicate that clearly, rather than relying on love bombing to win someone over. By being specific about what you care about and how it makes you feel, you can avoid falling into the trap of love bombing and build healthier, more meaningful relationships.

Love and Relationships

People tend to rush into relationships and fall in love too quickly. Humble the Poet argued that they need to establish a healthy relationship with themselves before they can have a healthy relationship with others.

"Chasing the delicious will never bring you around the nutritious," Humble the Poet told Jay Shetty. Seeking validation from others can be addicting, like salty french fries. Still, there are better ways to establish a relationship. People need to develop a clear definition of what they want in a partner based on their experiences, what they care about, and where they're headed in life.

To emphasize the importance of taking things slow, Humble the Poet cited a study that said it takes 200 hours to get to know someone.1 He admitted to Jay Shetty that he couldn't think of many people he had spent that much time with in his adult life. This underscores the idea that people must get to know someone before declaring love.

Moreover, Humble the Poet pointed out that men tend to say "I love you" after three months, while women take four to six months. But he argued that even that is too quick.

Many of us tend to be attracted to what's familiar, even if it's unhealthy. For example, if someone's parents were hard to impress, they may gravitate towards someone hard to impress. Humble the Poet stressed the importance of building self-awareness and establishing a healthy relationship with oneself before seeking a relationship with others.


We often feel the pressure of being put on a pedestal, which affects our self-image. Jay Shetty explains that he sets the culture for his team by joking around and not wanting to be perceived as a guru. "I kind of set that culture from the beginning where I was joking around with everyone messing around with everyone for that same reason that I don't want to be perceived as a guru," he shared.

Jay Shetty feels that everyone is looking for God in their way, whether through a person, a favorite restaurant, or a football team. He believes projecting god-like imagery onto people and expecting them to live up to that standard is unfair and ultimately leads to disappointment. Unfortunately, this behavior is built into our culture, as emulating and worshiping someone was a survival tactic in small tribes.

However, in today's society, people take it too far by copying everything from what they wear to what they drink. They are encouraged to be perfect, but perfection is not real. Therefore, it is essential to accept that nobody is perfect. This is the only way to have meaningful connections and be vulnerable with others.

Jay Shetty suggests getting out of black-and-white thinking, understanding there are rewards and punishments for certain behaviors, but not playing the game won't result in a penalty. Instead, it will leave you alone. He shares his experience recording meditations in the studio with his team, stating they have great banter and jokes. This culture makes him feel less like a guru and helps him to be vulnerable with his team.

Social media accentuates people's pressure to be beautiful or present themselves in a certain way. Jay Shetty suggests that not playing social media games won't result in punishment; instead, you will end up alone. Similarly, Humble the Poet believes people must recognize the subtle compensations and penalties for certain behaviors from society and social media. He explains that not receiving a reward is not the same as punishment.

Challenges in Relationships

Humble the Poet emphasized the importance of taking responsibility in conflicts and focusing on love as a verb rather than just a feeling. He explained to Jay Shetty, "Without playing the blame game, let's always focus on where we can take responsibility because that's where we'll have power in any situation."

Humble the Poet also stressed the importance of diving into the other person's world and showing enthusiasm for their interests rather than expecting them to be interested in yours.

"When I feel enthusiastic about somebody, I want to share my world with them. That doesn't build a connection as much as me enthusiastically diving into their world," the artist told Jay Shetty.

Communication is critical, especially when it comes to setting expectations and defining essential terms, like the definition of cheating. Humble the Poet noted that arranged marriages often involve asking uncomfortable questions upfront, which can be helpful for all types of relationships.

Moreover, he also shared with Jay Shetty Shirley Glass’s "walls and windows" analogy, which emphasizes the importance of creating a boundary (the wall) around the relationship while still allowing access (the window) to each other. He explained, "The moment somebody outside gets a better view of what's happening on the inside, that can be a strong definition of infidelity. . . .This is not your person; this is somebody who's giving you access to them. And now you can continually strengthen that relationship."

Keep Relationships Healthy

Humble the Poet encouraged the audience to approach relationships as a game. The goal is not to win but to keep it enjoyable for everyone involved.

He shared the "bagel method" (or "donut method") as a way to resolve disagreements. The small circle represents the issue at hand, and the larger circle represents the larger context of the relationship. By focusing on the smaller circle and addressing the issue directly, couples can avoid allowing minor problems to grow into larger ones.

Humble the Poet and Jay Shetty emphasized the importance of taking responsibility. They encouraged the audience to show enthusiasm for each other's interests, set clear expectations and boundaries, and approach relationships with fun and playfulness. By following these principles, couples can build stronger connections and navigate the challenges that come with any relationship.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Humble the Poet ON How to Get Out Your Own Way to Find Love & Breaking Society’s Common Myths About Relationships” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

1Hall, Jeffrey. (2018). How many hours does it take to make a friend?. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 36. 026540751876122. 10.1177/0265407518761225.

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