Whilst some may wake in the night and start pondering on the stresses of life, I found myself waking in the early hours one morning, thinking about how being a best friend to ourselves and treating people as we would like to be treated ourselves work towards one common goal. That goal is embodying peace and love. I began to explore the relationships with ourself and others and thought how peaceful the world would be if we worked towards that goal.
Being a best friend to ourselves can sometimes be tough. When looking at another’s situation objectively, we seem to be able to provide so much advice or think of ways to make another person feel better. When it comes to ourselves, if we can’t be a good friend to ourself then often it is a good friend who cares for us. If that friend is unavailable, it can place us in a momentary rut. As for those who are not so kind to others, if they were to consider how they’d feel if others treated them similarly, they would likely conclude how unfair the treatment was. So it is important to actively work on being a best friend to ourselves and others.
1. Speak supportive words to yourself
When my best friends aren’t available but I could really use the company of one of them (e.g. during working hours / if I can’t reach them on the phone), it forces me to look at my relationship with myself. It can be easy during moments of dejection to think negative thoughts or to believe in a bad situation. During these times I actively think of what I’d like to hear to feel better. Most of the time it can be as simple as, ‘It’s going to be ok’ or ‘You’ve got this’. I realise how much calmer I feel just by practising this exercise. It starts a foundation of healthy internal talk. Best of all, because you know what you need to hear, it means you don’t end up with sometimes well-intended advice from another that can sometimes inflame your feelings. You, as your own best friend, is readily equipped to support you.
2. Do things that you enjoy even if means going alone
I have often heard people say how they think it’s great (but slightly strange) that I do so many things alone. They voice their envy at not having the confidence to go to places by themselves, often missing out on things they’d quite like to do. Being your own best friend does require a bit of bravery, but it is SO rewarding going to events and places that interest you even if you go alone. Sometimes, it can be more rewarding. You meet new people with similar interests and from different walks of life. You can learn an awful lot from them. The most rewarding experiences for me were often those done alone, such as travelling abroad or going to workshops for different activities I was interested in. Whilst some may think this can be scary, it is often the opposite. It can be liberating. Imagine. You literally can do whatever, whenever you want for the duration of your alone time.
3. Respect your own decisions. Don’t seek approval
Part of being a best friend to yourself is to develop self respect. Much as you would respect a friend’s decision even if it were contrary to your own, you should learn to respect your own decision even if it is contrary to others’. So long as your decision isn’t inately harmful, it is important for you to place yourself as the final decision maker of your life. This minimises chances of personal conflict or resentment from building up. Of course sometimes it helps to hear the viewpoints of others before making a decision, but ultimately make sure you’re fully aware that the final decision is your own (even if that does mean following the suggestion of another).
4. Remember being your own best friend is a work in progress
There are some days when you are going to forget to be your own cheerleader or simply need someone else to be there for you to give you strength. And that is more than ok. Part of being your own best friend means recognising when you do need support.
5. Be a best friend to others
Usually we focus our attention on being kind to those who are kind to us. But it takes someone to make the first step. Sometimes we find we don’t want to be nice to someone at all because our first encounter with them may involve them being in a bad mood (and we take it as a personal jilt) or simply that we have nothing in common. It’s natural that we will gravitate towards people we have a lot in common with, but remember that ultimately everyone wants to be happy. Remember too that sometimes you’re not 100% at your best and not to judge someone on the basis of few interactions. If you aim to make others happy (whilst maintaining your own healthy boundaries), you truly can make someone’s day so much brighter and give them the energy to keep on going.
Finally, think of a world where everyone made the effort to be best friends with themselves whilst caring for all beings and promoting happiness. The world truly would be a beautiful place, with each of us embodying peace and love.