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Jennifer Lopez Speaks Out About Self-Esteem Issues

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For most of us, Jennifer Lopez (the person) is essentially synonymous with Jenny from the Block (the persona): an ultra-confident, smooth-talking girl from the Bronx. But as the singer and actress reveals in a new book, True Love, she hasn’t always had it all together.

The deeply personal memoir, available tomorrow, explores the time surrounding her divorce from ex Marc Anthony. During that period in 2011, Lopez writes, she "confronted her greatest challenges, identified her biggest fears, and ultimately emerged a stronger person than she’s ever been."

It's somewhat jarring to hear J. Lo—a woman who seems so self-assured, sexy, and confident—confess to having low self-confidence, a fear of being alone, and even feelings of inadequacy. In an exclusive interview on TODAY, Lopez told Maria Shriver that she realized she had self-esteem issues years ago, when an agent overheard her arguing and pleading with her then-boyfriend. "I had so much common sense and street smarts. I had this confidence in what I could do," she tells Shriver. "I didn't have so much confidence in who I was and what I had to offer just as a girl."

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It may be hard to believe, but this dichotomy of personalities is actually quite common in people who perform for a living, like Lopez, says Sari Cooper, a certified couples and sex therapist. These people seem outgoing on stage, but "often that covers up feelings of inadequacy and shyness that they have in their personal lives," she says. Indeed, while Lopez may have had plenty of courage onstage, she was suffering from a lack of it in her romantic life, jumping from relationship to relationship for fear of being alone. Just days after she broke up with Ben Affleck, for example, she re-connected with Anthony, her husband-to-be.

But today, for the first time in her life, Lopez is single. And being alone is the best thing for her attachment issues, Cooper says. If you, like J. Lo, find yourself starting new relationships without any downtime after the last, the most important first step to take is to spend some time getting to know yourself, Cooper suggests. "Spend time seeking inward—not outward, and learn how to meditate so you can learn how to handle those feelings of anxiety." 

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Fortunately, Lopez's definition of love is changing. She used to feed into the fairytale that we hear when we're kids: "He's gonna love me forever, and I'm gonna love him forever, and it's gonna be real easy," she says. "And it's so different than that." And the title of her book is fitting for her new outlook. "True love is learning to love yourself, spending time with yourself, and doing things by yourself," Cooper says. "It's easy to love your partner, but you need to have that same love for yourself." And we're glad to see J. Lo is taking some much-deserved time alone to do just that!

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