Becoming Your Own Best Friend

Can you recall a time when you were a wonderful friend to someone?  What did you do or say? Maybe you listened with compassion whilst they shared something that was troubling them. Perhaps you sent an encouraging message when they needed one. Maybe you were there to celebrate a special occasion, or just sit quietly together and enjoy a peaceful view. 

Can you remember how it felt to be a great friend?  The set of your shoulders. The tilt of your head. Your train of thoughts as you considered how to support and encourage them.

Now imagine doing exactly the same for yourself. Respond to your emotions with compassion. Take actions (large and small) to enjoy life more, celebrating the good times and finding time to rest. Many of us find this difficult, yet we already have the skills and insight to be a great friend, we just need to practice putting ourselves at the centre of those.

What a difference it makes to check in with how we are multiple times each day, offering ourselves encouragement, or challenging thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that undermine our happiness. We can shower, dress, move around and feed ourselves with care and kindness. Every small act that we do anyway can become infused with a sense of friendship between mind and body.

Some people worry that this may make them lazy, but a true friend encourages you to get out of the house when the company of others would be helpful. To exercise as an expression of care for your body. To nourish yourself by finding the time and energy to eat food packed with nutrients.

It takes practice at first, but changing an inner critic to an inner cheerleader really can be a game-changer. 

For more information, try the book ‘Resilient’ by Rick Hanson, self-compassion resources by Kristin Neff, or any books by Thich Nhat Hanh.

This article first appeared in the Post Newspapers Group of Community Newspapers in Sept 2023.

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