2 Simple Ways To Be A Better Friend To Yourself

22 March, 2012

In times of need or times of struggle, is usually the time we end up leaving ourselves - where as what we must do is be there for ourselves - as a friend.

In a session with my counsellor several years back, I told her that I was highly worried about the relationship I was currently in, ending. She tried to help me work out what I was really worried about; and asked some questions; was I worried about being alone, no. Was I worried about him, no, not really. What came out as my real worry was that if the relationship ended, that I would blame myself and feel solely responsible for the ending of it. She said to me "so what you're really worried about it how you're going to treat yourself, that you would not be there for yourself, that you would leave yourself".

I had never thought about it like that before (and that's what therapy helps us do, yes?) and she had hit the nail on the head. It was true, my biggest fear was that I would end up blaming myself and hating myself, and, as she said, effectively leaving myself. I realised back then, that luckily, this was all within my control!

The best decision any of us could ever make in our relationship with ourselves (the most important one you will ever have) is to never leave ourselves. To always be a good friend to ourselves. What does this mean and how can we do it?

1. Substitute Beat-up for Support

I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again; because the way we are hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up and self-judge is so insidious - it just sits under our conscious radar eating away at our soul and sense of self. So, let's be aware of it, the first key to change. When you are struggling with something - going through a transition, feeling unwell, being stressed, struggling with work load, not sleeping well, unable to get up that hill this morning, notice how you treat yourself. My bet is, if you really noticed it, there would be a sense of "should" - I should know better, I should be able to do this, I shouldn't feel like this, I should….

Your real outcome in life is to move through life with ease, happiness, and succeeding in your own way (whatever that means to you). You will not achieve this with beating yourself up.

Try a more friendly response. Try using your own name to yourself, or a pet name, like darling or sweetheart. Say something like "Claire, my love, this has been a hard week, and you will be OK after a good rest" or "Claire, you struggled because you're tired. You will be OK".

2. Find The Older, Wiser, Loving Self

As much as you might have a voice that beats you up in there, you also have access to a friend in there - an older, wiser, loving and much more gentler self. If you don't think you do, then that's OK, you can make one up.

You can start by writing with it, as Elizabeth Gilbert details in her book Eat Pray Love. When she is struggling she sits down with a notebook and pen and writes I NEED YOUR HELP. And, with the same hand, another part of her starts writing "I am here. I love you. I will never leave you…"

You can also speak it. Ask yourself - how would I want to respond to a dear friend right now? And what tone of voice would I use? And there you go - just pretend you could hear yourself say that to yourself. Notice how it feels. And I challenge you to not find it supportive!

As always, I would love to hear from you, please comment and we can chat.

Love from Charlotte (and her Older, Wiser, Loving Self).

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