About Me

I’m No Guru. I’m Just a Regular Guy From Ohio.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m on Match.com while I do this. But okay, here goes:

I’m Paul. Thanks for being curious about my site. First and foremost: I’m just a regular guy who failed to deal with tough shit in my life. Failed to accept myself for who I was. I ran away, distracted myself, and it made my life a living hell. One day I figured out how to stop. And here I am. All better, see?  (haha, not even close)

On the surface, I’m an average 32-year old dude from Columbus, Ohio. I live with my two cats, Jack and Ella. I have a 7-year old daughter who lights up my fucking universe. I love to work out when I find the time. I was in the military long ago. I’ve lived in a couple other places: Cleveland, Florida. I went to college off and on but couldn’t find my purpose for many years. My family owns a piano company where I work as marketing director and the “computer guy.”

I’m crazy about books. Mostly non-fiction – spirituality, personal growth, emotions, recovery <— these are a few of my favorite topics. But I tend to buy too many books. Then I end up with so many I forget to read them. That’s a good problem, right? I’m also one of those annoying people who love to say they don’t watch TV.

Sorry but I don’t watch or follow sports either. Or world news. Or politics. What do I even do with my time?

No.. I’m asking you. Because I don’t know. I guess I usually wake up, exercise or write for the site, go to the piano company where I work, then go home to work out, read and write. I have got my shit together

Boom. That’s the short version. Want to continue? Be my guest.


I think most of my life I’ve had the feeling like I was out of my mind. Like I was no good. Since I was a kid, I remember feeling differentI was one of the kids with the Ritalin-spiced applesauce at lunch. And I was always visiting shrinks and looking at strange pictures while being asked weird questions by strange old people. They thought I was autistic for awhile. I just preferred to jitter the fuck out instead of talk. Talk is cheap I say. The point is, though my loving mother never intended it – I ended up feeling special, in the wrong ways. Like a wacky little screwed up psycho kid. But oh I was “so intelligent.” Off the charts. You have to behave and not waste your gifts. (no pressure, though)

Well, “different” later evolved to damaged, screwed up, weird. Feelings like this soon invite over their awesome friends isolation and anger. When we look back at life, high school is where stuff like this begins for most people. I was a “popular kid” I think… but honestly, I didn’t know who the fuck I was, what I wanted, or what these strange feelings were inside of me. I just know I felt alone, unloved. The little shred of identity I had, as punk-rock loving skateboarding guitar fanatic, I squashed away to become a popular athletic kid. Boo hoo, we’ve all been there, though. High school sucks, let’s fast forward.

Vices, Validation and Breakdowns

My broken and damaged soul came to love alcohol. Want to know a shocking fact? Getting drunk is fucking awesome. At least it used to be until it stopped working. It was my warm blanket. My shield, sword, best friend, everything. There’s millions of other blogs and stories about the first joys of discovering alcohol. Long story short, when you’re trying to avoid pain, loneliness, shame, guilt – alcohol just works. The problem? You’re kicking the can down the road. And fuck if that can doesn’t just keep getting bigger, heavier and nastier along the way.

My second favorite vice was sex. Sex and alcohol was the perfect combo for avoiding pain and mental chatter. Sexual validation is SO powerful. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with women, sex and attraction. Relationships can bring moments of incredible joy. And I’ve loved some beautiful and lovely women. But when you use the opposite sex only as cover for your feelings of shame and loneliness, you hurt people.  I apologize to all the women I hurt. Seriously, I’m sorry. I hope you had some fun while it lasted, though?

Important side note: Attraction and relationships are like a mirror. We tend to attract what reflects ourselves. Now I know why some of my previous relationships were so screwed up. And why they progressively became worse as my life situation and self-esteem degraded further.

Vices are easy to see. What about validation? I always wanted to be liked, to be loved. Please, accept me. Please, make me feel I’m worthy. Make me feel I’m attractive. Tell me I’m amazing. It was easy to sense a profound lack when you met me, I believe. I was the classically tortured, restless soul. It’s fun to analyze this now that I’m out of the jungle.

Breakdowns were frequent. I’d try to wrest control of my life. Usually after acting out or making huge mistakes based on my insecure and reckless behavior. I’d then try to grab hold then so tightly and “make my dreams come true.” To be a “good person.” This could be 6 pages right here so I’ll stop.

It would take me until one year ago to finally understand what surrender and self-acceptance were about. I learned what compassion felt like. Once I learned how to stop treating my life like a scoreboard, (am I winning? Am I ahead?) life began to change.

Humble Vindication and Self-Analysis

Starting in Summer 2015, I began a crazy journey. Instead of trying to take control, I decided just to forgive. I DECIDED TO STOP RESISTING. No matter what, I was going to accept myself.  I wanted so badly to forgive myself and accept who the fuck I was.

Almost instantly, I started to arrive at higher ground. I began to see the relationship between all the terrible feelings I’d felt and shit I’d done in my life. I believe it was a combination of age, growing as a father, and in reading certain books. Books like Dr. Robert Glover’s No More Mr. Nice Guy. And dozens of others. (Krishnamurti’s books are a must-buy, all of them. Go now. Do it.)

The next six months were a hellish journey of self-analysis and pain. Swallowing shameful memories and feelings I didn’t think I could keep down. Ending toxic relationships, choices, actions and surroundings. Committing to growth, surrender and a simple, healthy way of life. Finally, things began just to work. Life slowed down, my heart softened, my mind sharpened, and my soul lost brightened.

I will have many blog posts and programs you can follow about transformation, step-by-step and completely free. But let’s fast forward to my life today.

What’s Up Today and What’s Next?

Today, my goals are to breathe easy, respect my mind and body, and help those who suffer as well. I don’t know where this journey is taking me. I can’t undo the things that I’ve learned. It’s like becoming a butterfly. You can’t return to caterpillar form. You can leave the old ways behind, only by choosing to face yourself and feel your pain, emotions, and fears.

Once you accept yourself, you can finally BE yourself. I’m going to humbly continue on this journey and try to help as many people as I can along the way.

I feel what differentiates me from almost every other guru, coach, author, podcaster or blogger out there is my real life experience. I know these people mean well but when you read or listen to their stuff – they just don’t get it. They’re clueless and living on the surface dimension of pain and sorrow. They obviously haven’t been through the pain that we have.

It’s not a contest. But I understand what it’s like to wish you were dead. To hope for death. To look up and helplessly beg the Lord to change you, because you despise who you are.

I understand feeling like a prisoner within your self. I know what it’s like to have zero hope. I know the feeling of carrying a blackened, dogshit soul. I spent years doing it. Half of my life almost.

It wasn’t about being broke or hating my job, or something little like that. My struggle was about truly hating who I was deep down. I found the way out, and I can’t believe I was ever that person before. Whether this makes me more or less qualified to help you is up to you.

I appreciate you reading. If you’ve stayed with me this far, WOW! Thank you so much.

Paul Graves



  1. Hi Paul,

    I found your site through your post about loving a guy with low self esteem. After reading more about you, I felt an immediate connection and wanted to reach out.
    While my boyfriend’s situation might be slighty different, I think he comes from a similar place as you. From a very young age, he couldn’t focus in school. He had his IQ tested and was discovered to be a borderline genius, but was also diagnosed with ADHD. He was medicated from elementary school into high school. I think a lack of initiative from teachers/educational resources, introduction to recreational drug use, and frustration with conventional learning methods led him to completely tune out from education. I can imagine that he felt similarly to you; special, but then that deteriorated into feeling damaged and not good enough.
    His father is a Marine, Vietnam veteran, and a born and raised South Philly Italian. I think growing up with him as his male influence only served to further fuel his feelings of inadequacy.

    In conjunction with this, I think his past relationships with women have done the most damage to his self esteem. He was dating a woman when he went away to college at West Virginia University. I have reason to believe this was his first “serious” relationship. I’m not sure how long they were involved, but after two years of dating, he found out that she had been cheating on him that entire time. Their break up was ugly, I can only assume, and there was no closure.
    He dated women who were drug addicts, drunks, narcissistic, and chronically unfaithful. He dated a woman (who he also lived with) who he found out was stealing money from his bank ATM to fuel her cocaine addiction. The list goes on. It breaks my heart to think about all the women who broke his.

    When we met and he told me that every woman he’d dated had cheated on him, I immediately thought to myself; “This guy either chooses the wrong girl every time, or he has some major communication issues.” I was right on both accounts.
    It didn’t scare me away though, I can relate–I dated women who cheated on me, I dated men who disrespected me and treated me like I owed them something, and I chose all the wrong people too. That is, before him.

    I guess I’m telling you all of this in an attempt to ask for some sort of advice. I can tell he has these moments of complete insecurity, pushes me away, lashes out, and tries to cast blame on me for things that he’s solely responsible for. After dating for almost three years, and living together for one of those, I have seen these episodes lessen. But, I want to make sure that I’m helping him heal from these painful associations in his past. I don’t want to be naive about how my behavior and the way we communicate can impact him, especially since I think he’s still not fully to a place of loving himself.

    How can I continue to foster this growth in him? Bear in mind, he’s not a “feelings” guy. He’s not very self aware either.

    Any and all insight is greatly appreciated. And major kudos to you for keeping the faith and finding yourself. You should be proud of how far you’ve come.

    Kind Regards,

  2. Hi Paul,
    I have a question for you between the difference between love and validation and if you were truly able to love someone differently from the women you needed to validate you. I want to help my boyfriend but he has so much shame I’m not sure where I actually stand with him. Thank you! I love your site

  3. Thank you for putting this together. Truly, from the bottom of my heart.

  4. Hey I’m a 55 year DUDE, is it too late to find some happiness in myself???

  5. This is so hopeful– thank you for sharing, Paul!

  6. Hey Paul, I’m a 28 year old guy, and your post brought tears to my eyes. I’m in your old shoes right now, it’s a scary and dangerous road. I’m going to counseling, and it helps, but the hole is deep, very. I’ve wanted to just stop living. I have even checked out if it was possible to donate my fucking heart… I look forward to learning more about your journey.

  7. Hi Paul,

    Firstly, congratulations on turning yourself around! No mean feat I am sure, and respect where it’s due 🙂

    I’ve just been reading your article about boyfriends with low self esteem and wow, did it hit the nail on the head for me and my current situation. Forgive me for giving you the details, but I would massively appreciate your opinion.

    I was in a long distance relationship for 13 months with a French guy who lives in Switzerland (he’s 37). I’m 49 and live in England. We met 5 days after he’d left his wife after a 5 year relationship (yes, alarm bells were ringing then.. Rebound!!). But we embarked on a relationship and got on great. He has struggled consistently to get on top of money worries, and due to his work commitments (he’s a chef), it meant it was always me that went to visit him in Switzerland. It was apparent pretty quickly to me that he had self esteem issues.. Comments like ‘why is someone like you interested in me? I’m just a lowly chef’. I have done quite well for myself financially (I’m a property developer) and I always felt like he found that intimidating. He would make comments that his flat wasn’t good enough for me to visit, compared to my house, and other such things. I always tried to reassure him that I am not interested in someone’s financial worth, but I don’t believe that ever really helped him. He would FaceTime me 3 times a day, every day, and particularly at the beginning would question if I was seeing anyone else/on dating apps as ‘someone as nice and pretty as you must get hit on all the time’. I would never cheat and would continuously tell him this, having been cheated on myself in the past.

    To the crux of the issue.. Back in February I saw a dating app notification pop up on his phone. He was highly defensive saying he was just ‘chatting’ to people as he gets lonely. He works most of the day and lives in a very small, fairly isolated community. So whilst I was 100% not ok with this, I ‘let him off’ telling him it needed to stop as it was the same as cheating to me/how would he feel if I did this? Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago when I went to visit I have to admit that I did check his phone (I feel bad about this, and have never done it before, but needed to know..). Sure enough, he was on Tinder, with loads of messages to girls and he’d obviously met up with some too. For me, it was the final piece of the jigsaw to get rid. Prior to that he had ‘forgotten’ my birthday for the second time and failed to give any emotional support the one time I had sought it from him (after I was upset that my son had left home for university). It was almost a relief to find the dating app; to validate and give a final, solid reason that he didn’t give a shit about me and to move on.

    I read a lot about narcissism, originally suspecting him of this (he is now trying to ‘hoover’ me back, saying how gutted and sorry he is, and misses me so much). I don’t actually think he is a narcissist as I do believe he has empathy and is actually very sensitive. I started suspecting it was due to low self esteem and the women thing was a fix to validate him, and then I read your article! Yep, reads just like him!

    It’s funny, as all the other articles that showed under yours were all giving the advice to ditch the guy (which I have essentially done), but yours really struck a chord in not wanting to abandon him in and leave him in this misery. He is obviously going to just live his life in this destructive cycle if he doesn’t wake up to what the hell is happening! I don’t know if he has worked anything out yet, but I do wonder if I should try and help him. Or run the hell away??! I was thinking I could point out what I think his issues are, be there for him to talk to (not in a romantic capacity) and basically see if he can get his shit together with some support. He is also a big drinker, so if he can curtail that it would make a big difference I am sure.

    Your thoughts would be amazingly helpful, if you do have the time. I’m sure you get lots of mail to contend with, and I am just impressed if you have managed to get to the end of this mammoth message!

    Hope to hear from you 🙂


  8. Hi Paul, your articles have been incredibly insightful for me. I’m currently a woman who is in love with a man who absolutely hates himself. On the outside, you’d never know. He overcompensates with confidence and a little cockiness. We are currently on a sort of “break”, having gone from extremely close best friends (they type that a healthy dating relationship should be built on), to romantically involved, and now stepping back because he’s aware that he can’t be in a relationship just now. “I’m the devil in disguise” he says, “and you’re an angel”. But it’s like he puts on the disguise and forgets the mask. None of his big, bad talk ever comes to fruition. He isn’t totally gone yet, and he treats me incredibly well. The only way he has ever hurt me is holding back from committing to me. (There is so much more but pretty much lines up with your articles)
    Any suggestions on what to do for the woman that is standing by faithfully, praying and encouraging? I don’t want to push him like every other woman has tried to or lecture about what he already knows. Thank you for your articles! You are truly a blessing to me and so many others.

  9. Paul- thank you for sharing what you have went through so openly. Your words really resonate with me and I find myself nodding yes to myself a lot when I’m reading your bio and your articles. Please keep writing, I will be reading.

  10. Hi came across your site and read your bio.

    I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way as I know nothing about your life and if you take this the wrong way I understand, but I can empathize 100% with your previous self-esteem issues. However where it stops is merely the fact that you have a daughter, a presumably successful business and you are a good looking guy. So for me, I wonder exactly what the fluffy issues are. You have everything that a lot of guys would give anything for. I can’t speak for your past, but I seriously wonder.

    Perhaps if you start from a real zero, it might provide real inspiration, but then those sort of guys are non-existent honestly!

    I don’t doubt your past issues because everyone to a degree has problems but don’t please lecture on such matters when you already have things that anyone stuck in a pit of self-esteem would kill for and would achieve.

  11. Thank you for the comments, Simon. I appreciate the compliment and and feedback. I do. I agree with you, too. However, I’d counter and say my situation then serves to make me feel more guilty and damaged. “Why, if I have so many blessings, do I feel so rotten and worthless at my core?” were the thoughts. Of course feelings like this are probably why the rich and famous commit suicide. “I have all this money and fame. All these friends. And I still hate myself. It’s hopeless for me” may be what they feel.

    We all live in a vacuum. The hedonic treadmill affects us all. Whatever we have in our life, becomes normal and expected. And in our culture, it’s never, ever enough.

    Happy holidays Simon, be well.

  12. Here’s my thought your NOT even close to all better, you possibly have to self realization but far far from better, it’s a cover up as we’re all the women and Love, you never really loved any of them including Mary the one you speak of so fondly. NOPE your screwed up and screwed up the women you were with as well…..like a dead body in river you floated along lifeless and no intent but to serve your own ego….what’s changed? Your still serving up a good dose of ego gratification.

  13. Hi Rene. I’m very sorry to read of your situation. Man, it’s a lifelong process of healing. But you must get started.

    I had another big life situation throw me back into the deep hole early this year. For 6+ months I was back there again. I’m telling you this to let you know, I’m not over here whistling and living the perfect life!

    You have to choose to love yourself even if you kills you trying. Get into the gym and care for your physical health first. It’s not the complete solution but it’s the ONE thing in your control and can make rapid difference in your life. Get obsessed with yourself and in living a healthy, calm life.

    It’s not going to be easy. But life sucks either way. May as well make it suck trying to do the GOOD stuff.

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