Why Bother Making Friends With Yourself?
Making friends with ourselves is much like making friends with others. Being hospitable with ourselves or others includes speaking kindly, mutual respect and an awareness of needs. We might find that being congenial with ourselves to be more difficult than being affable to others, but it is just as important.
Wherever I Go
Wherever I go, I find myself there. There is no getting away from me. Unlike friends who come and go, we remain in our own company twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Are we in good company when we are with ourselves? That all depends.
First of all, what do I hear myself saying? Is my self-talk critical and condemning? Do I “shame” myself? If so, would I do the same to a friend? Most likely not.
Sometimes a friend of mine, who is on the road to recovery from years of depression, will share with me some of the statements she hears herself saying. “You are so dumb.” “You are a fatty.” Thankfully, when she hears these messages, she knows how to combat them. But that has not always been the case. Listening to years of self-condemnation was similar to being committed to a bad relationship. Nothing good ever came out of it. Presently, she is working her way to the freedom that comes when we no longer berate ourselves. Instead of telling herself degrading statements, she is learning to tell herself truthful ones.
“It is a lot of work to get well, but I am working hard to get there,” is an honest statement that encourages. Friends tell each other the truth, but with kindness. So, why not be truthful and kind to ourselves as well?
Secondly, we can be a good companion to ourselves as we learn how to respect ourselves. Self respect is not any different than respecting others. It just so happens that the person we are respecting is ourselves. Though none of my friends are perfect, I still appreciate them. So goes the same for me. I have my weaknesses, but I also have my strengths. I have a lot of room to grow, but I am always in the process of growing. As we are with others so we can be with ourselves. We can focus on weaknesses, but when we do, we miss out on seeing the beauty in strength.
Finally, we can be a friend to ourselves as our awareness grows. For instance, the more I know someone, the more I know about them. And the more I know about them, the more I can tell when they are miffed, exasperated, or at the end of their rope. This is helpful knowledge to have in any relationship.
The other night, while conversing with a friend over the phone, I noticed her subdued tone of voice. She wasn’t her usual jovial self. The next day, I invited her out to lunch. Munching on our salads, I was able to ask her if she was okay. With a heavy sigh she leaned closer to me and I listened while she unloaded some of her sadness. All she needed was someone who cared enough to listen and with that, her load got lighter.
It can be easy to see and consider the needs of others. We might even bend over backwards for their welfare. But showing the same concern for ourselves, well, that seems a little selfish. But noticing our own needs and doing something about them is just plain good self care.
So why bother making friends with yourself? Being a good friend to ourselves makes being a friend to others even better.