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How to Be a Friend of Yourself

How to Be a Friend of Yourself

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Be a friend of yourself

    We often focus on building relationships with others that we forget the essential first step: being friends of ourselves. That is the crucial first step if we are to have good relationships with others. How can we have good relationships with others if we don’t even have good relationship with ourselves?

    The problem might be worse than we expect. Maybe we don’t like ourselves without realizing it. Here is a simple checklist; is there anything you don’t like about yourself from these list?

    • Your past
      Maybe you have made mistakes in the past which you feel bad about. You might be disappointed with yourself on why you could make such mistakes. Even if that happened in distant past, your subconscious mind still has a reason not to like yourself.
    • Your background
      You might wish that you were born in different family, or that you have different background. Maybe you could not accept the fact that you are not as lucky as others, who seem to get whatever they want effortlessly because of their background.
    • Your personality traits
      You might have some personality traits that you don’t like. For example, you may be an introvert and you don’t like it; you wish you are an extrovert.
    • Your achievements relative to others
      Others might have better achievements than you, and no matter how hard you tried, it might seem impossible for you to match them. You might then think that it’s because you are not smart enough or don’t have enough talents.

    Is there anything that resonate with you? All these give reasons to you not to like yourself. That in turn makes it difficult for you to be a good friend to yourself.

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    Fortunately, there are always things you can do to fix the situation. Here are some tips:

    1. Forgive yourself

    You may have made those mistakes in the past, but is there anything you can do about them? I don’t think so, except learning from them. It’s true that you are not perfect, but neither is everybody else. It’s normal to make mistakes, so do yourself a favor by giving yourself forgiveness.

    2. Accept things you can’t change

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    There are some things you cannot change, such as your background and your past. So learn to accept them. You will feel much relieved if you treat things you can’t change the way they deserve: just accept them, smile, and move on.

    3. Focus on your strengths

    Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. You always have some strengths which give you a unique combination nobody else have. Recognize your strengths and build your life around them.

    4. Write your success stories

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    One reason we may not like ourselves is we are too focused on what we don’t have that we forget about what we have. So make a list of your achievements; write your success stories. They do not have to be big things; there are a lot of small but important achievements in our life. For example, if you have some good friends, that’s already an achievement. If you have a good family, that is also an achievement.

    5. Stop comparing yourself with others

    You are unique. You can never be like other people, and neither can other people be like you. The way you measure your success is not determined by other people and what they achieve. Instead, it is determined by your own life purpose. You have everything you need to achieve your life purpose, so it’s useless to compare yourself with others.

    6. Always be true to yourself

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    You don’t like other people lying to you, right? Similarly, you won’t like yourself if you know that you lie to yourself. Whether you realize it or not, that gives your mind a reason not to like yourself. That’s why it’s important to always be true to yourself. In whatever you do, be honest and follow your conscience. Remember this quote by Abraham Lincoln:

    I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end . . . I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.

    Donald Latumahina is an avid learner who blogs regularly about personal growth and effectiveness. Read his articles on 22 Ways to Maximize Your Opportunities in Life and 6 Powerful Tools to Break Down Your Idea Brick Walls.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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