Why would you want to become your own best friend? There are a number of benefits to creating your own internal support system rather than relying on your partner, friends or family to be there for you when you’re suffering. Having expectations of other people can lead to disappointment, heartbreak, and relationship breakdown if your expectations aren’t met.
We all have it in us to give ourselves what we need, without seeking it externally.
Of course, it’s great if you have a strong support network, but you could still benefit from becoming more self-reliant. And what about if you have no one to turn to for help, or if your current support people are unable to be there for you?
Isn’t it far better to know how to support yourself in times of need? Here’s how to become your own best friend.
1. Be nice to yourself
The first step to becoming a friend to yourself is to treat yourself like you would treat a friend. That means that you need to stop being self-critical and beating yourself up. Start by acknowledging your good qualities, talents and abilities and begin to appreciate your own unique self.
When you catch yourself thinking up some nasty self-talk, stop and ask, “Would I say this to my best friend?” If not, then reframe your self-talk to be more supportive and caring.
2. Imagine how you would support a friend in the same situation
Think about a loved one, a friend, a family member, someone dear to you and imagine that they are in the same situation you are currently facing. Think about how they’re struggling, suffering, and feeling stuck with this problem, then consider how to best offer assistance and advice to them.
Craft the words that you would say to your greatest friend and then say them gently to yourself. Allow yourself to feel supported, and give yourself what you need.
3. Honor your needs
Following the theme of considering how you would help a dear friend, you need to start taking your own advice and putting your own needs first. Do you need a day off from work? A long hot bath? An early night? A wild night? Some time to catch up on your reading, cleaning, gardening, creative projects, social life or self-care?
Whatever it is that you need, allow yourself to put it at the top of the list rather than the bottom. Be there for yourself and make it happen.
4. Stand back from your thoughts
Just because a thought pops into your mind, you don’t need to believe it and act upon it. Not all thoughts should be believed. If you’re struggling with negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t cope with this” remember that it’s your choice whether or not you believe those thoughts.
“Standing back” from thoughts is a mindfulness technique whereby you imagine that your conscious awareness has taken a step backwards, out of your mind. That way you can simply observe the thoughts that pass through, without needing to engage with them. Use it whenever you’re dealing with unhelpful thoughts.
5. Send compassion to the part of you that is hurting
Being a friend to yourself involves adopting and mastering the art of self-compassion. Compassion isn’t forceful or solution-focused. Compassion is accepting, peaceful, and loving, without the need to control or change anything.
Imagine a mother holding a child who has bumped his head. Her compassion is a strong and powerful force. She simply holds her child with loving, comforting, gentle arms and whispers “It will be alright my love.” The child trusts his mother’s words just as you will learn to trust your own words when you speak to yourself.
Imagine yourself as both the child and the mother simultaneously. Offer compassion at the same time as you open up to receive it.
Use these techniques to become your own best friend and start being there for yourself!
Featured photo credit: Untitled by Lauren Rushing https://www.flickr.com/photos/white_ribbons/5766632405/ via flic.kr