Q: You say it’s important to friends with yourself. How can I do that?
Are you friendly to anybody? Same way. You’re just a person like they are. When you see somebody, do you smile and say, “Hi, how are you doing?” Well, in the morning when you go look in the mirror, you can say, “Hi, how are you doing? I love you. I hope you have a good day.” And practice meaning it.
Being friends with ourselves is the same thing as being friendly to anybody else.
Once you realize being your own best friend requires the same kind of attention and effort as being a friend to someone else, you have cleared an astonishing hurdle. It’s astonishing because it doesn’t occur to so many of us that we are a person just like everyone else! We can readily recognize that others deserve care and kindness. But somehow it doesn’t occur to us that we ourselves deserve that same care and kindness.
This is a blind spot that, for most of us, is developed in childhood. As children we have a natural developmental gullibility. You can make a child believe anything from the myth of Santa Claus to the idea that they don’t desire love and respect because they spilled their milk or wet their pants. Every spank or harsh glare from an adult communicates to a young child in a profound way that they are not good enough to receive love and kindness.
As children we are all conditioned, in varying degrees of intensity, by this sort of treatment (and worse) to develop this blind spot about our own precious worthiness as a living being.
That “blind spot” conditioning taught us that our thoughts, feelings, speech, actions, and appearance were somehow defective and irredeemable. No wonder so many of us act meek and try to disappear. Or become rageful in reaction to the pressure of pent-up pain at this horrific insult to our being.
The blind spot (our sense of unworthiness) is maintained by our belief. We accept and believe the thoughts and feelings we experienced first as children: “Daddy yelled at me loudly for a long time when I spilled the milk. I feel so, so sad. He must not love me.”
Later, as teens and adults, we continue to maintain this blind spot. We not only believe these thoughts and feelings, we also conclude they are uniquely ours and therefore prove something about us, personally. They are not ours, they are simply human thoughts and feelings experienced by everyone. Therefore they cannot prove anything about any one of us, specifically. There is no shame in experiencing any thought or feeling. There is nothing you can think or feel that would mean anything about you personally, nothing that could set you apart from all humanity.
When we talk about “actions” we are referring to human actions which can be mistaken and even harmful. But mistaken and harmful actions do not cause our Being to become bad. These actions only indicate we need education and support to understand which of our actions are genuinely helpful and which ones are not.
5 Ways to Practice Being Your Own Best Friend
You can practice these 5 simple, yet powerfully healing actions that can dissolve your blind spot (the sense of unworthiness). This way, you can develop the habit of being your own best friend.
- Remind yourself frequently that you are having a human experience and that no aspect of it is proof of your unworthiness. You can’t experience any feeling that is uniquely yours, separate from your humanness. We are all in the same boat!
- Practice relaxing and extending kindness to yourself often through the day. Stop and put your hands over your heart in a caring way. Focus on the tenderness and warmth of your skin and the movement of your breath.
- Reflect on the wonder of your existence. Notice that Life is manifesting you. You are Life’s gift to yourself and to the world. Life wants you to thrive. Life wants everything it manifests to thrive. Life is loving you into existence breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat. Relax and open your heart to this gift as best you can, no judgment!
- Smile at yourself in the mirror. At first you may feel uncomfortable doing this. It may even intensify the feelings of self rejection when you go against them by extending kindness to yourself. Keep practicing anyway, with a genuine warm smile. It is natural to appreciate that miraculous manifestation of life you see in the mirror –– you! That appreciation is your support. Stay inspired by remembering that self rejection was something you were tricked into when you were a child. You may find it build your sense of determination to think that, through this practice, you are rescuing and healing that child self so it can grow up and merge into your fully present adult self. Smile at the child, too.
- Program your smartphone to send you this message: “No matter what I have ever thought, said, done, or experienced, I deserve love and respect as much as anyone.” Then take a moment to give some love and respect to yourself. Just open up a bit and kindly breathe in.
(Sending a text message to yourself is as easy as texting a friend. Just open a new blank message and enter your own phone number in the To: field. And if you find yourself using this method often, you can add yourself to your list of contacts.)
These simple exercises and contemplations are more than enough to guide you into a state of loving “self friendship.” The key to being a good friend to yourself is to repeat these actions often, every day, until they become powerful and habitual –– healthy loving habits. Recognize this as a joyful healing assignment. Good luck and enjoy!
© Jack Elias, jackelias.com, permission to share with acknowledgement