5 Ways to be Your Own Best Friend

As humans, we can’t be fully present with others unless we can be there for ourselves.  How we treat ourselves is essential, at the end of the day, we are only accountable for our actions.  We create our own reality of thoughts and perspectives that lead to our behaviors, therefore is crucial to make that a safe space.  Pop culture loves to emphasize self-love, but what we need to embrace is self-compassion.

Self-compassion. Sure.  Be nice to yourself.  That’s what I thought too.  But self-compassion is more, it’s allowing yourself grace.  A mindset that shifts your thinking from I should be doing ___ , or I wish I would ____, to when I have time I will_____, I’m doing the best I can now.  It’s not procrastinating but being kind to yourself and letting yourself just be.  If you find your inner critic becoming a little too loud, consider these steps to be that friend you always needed.

  • 1.  Hold Your Own Hand
    • Sit in the uncomfortable-self kindness over judgement
    • When I am sad or stressed out, I immediately go through my list of things that I know will perk me up.  I will go work out, eat my favorite snack, and hangout with a friend, all in an attempt to “turn my day around”, however at the end of the day, I find myself coming back to the original feeling. Yeah, I was able to have fun during the day; yet, I found that I was distracting myself from the actual problem.  I can be busy all day long, but that doesn’t erase the issue.  That’s when I realized I needed more. The feeling won’t go away until I’ve truly dealt with it, I need to sit in the uncomfortable moment.
    • Sitting in the uncomfortable feeling allows you to have a challenging moment and not have pressure to do the absolute most every day.  This can look like brain dumping into a journal and writing out everything on your mind, going on a long walk to gain perspective, or laying on your bed watching movies. Whatever you choose, allow that uncomfortable feeling to linger, don’t force it to leave, or be ashamed of the experience.  Being intentional with your thoughts at that moment is most important.  The way you are allowing yourself to cope does not include guilt or judgment, you are prioritizing taking care of yourself, and that is enough.

  • 2.  Validate Your Needs
    • Self-validation is a lot to comprehend, essentially, it is accepting and meeting yourself where you are.  There is no room for criticism or perfection, it is accepting you as a human.  Validating your needs can be intimating when you fail to see its purpose.
    • Getting to know who you are by assessing what you need can be a step closer to getting there.  Start by reflecting on your interests, and list them out:
      • Why do you like these interests?  Are you good at them?  Do good people surround them? Nice environment?
    • After you have your reflective list, identify what is most important to you, and how these connect to your values.  When your needs and values are aligned, it will be easier to accept and validate because that’s what makes you, you.

  • 3. Make Your Head A Nice Place to Be
    • It’s hard to be nice to ourselves at times.  Society has conditioned us to think we should be productive, eat healthy, and be sociable at all hours of the day.  Then, if we fall short, we’re lazy, unmotivated, or are not trying hard enough.  That mindset is unrealistic to have a truly fulfilling life. Instead of normalizing stressing yourself out to reach every bullet on the list, take the pressure off and take a moment to focus on how you’re treating yourself. Often I find myself a thief of my joy, letting my inner critic dictate my reality before I have time to experience it myself. Here is where the thoughts need to be reeled in. 
    • To start, acknowledge the negative self talk, and notice when it gets louder. Which areas of our life does it cling to? Reframing our thoughts to bypass the critique and think more objectively can change how we perceive ourselves.
      • My legs are ugly –> My legs let me walk
      • I am not smart enough –> I am still learning
      • I should be working –> Work will still be there tomorrow, now I rest
    • This simple shift can be massive, giving ourselves that moment to pause and be mindful of how we are talking to ourselves creates change.  Often we don’t realize the comments we are making to ourselves, out of habit.  Pause and think, “Would I say this to my best friend? If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself either. 
  • 4. Set Boundaries With Yourself
    • I’m not sure about you guys, but I think I can do it all. Full-time job? Yes Ma’am. Need me to watch your dog? Of course! A ride to the airport? What time, I’ll be there? 
    • It doesn’t stop there, once you get started saying yes, its hard to say no. You think you’ve got it all under control…until your sleep-deprived, half asleep at your 6 am workout class. Learning to channel this people-pleasing mindset to creating healthy boundaries is difficult, especially if you, like me, think of myself as the exception.
    • Here’s where to start, next time someone asks you to do a favor you don’t have time for, say no.  Try saying no to the small stuff at first. It will get easier when you realize that saying no to getting coffee with a friend will not be detrimental to your relationship. Honestly, I never thought I’d be able to do this as a person who doesn’t like to let others down. However, I realized that by “making it all work” the person I was letting down the most was myself, which is not okay. If I can’t set boundaries with myself, I will never be able to set them with others. Giving myself that space to know my limits and protect them allows me to show up for not only myself, but for other people.

  • 5. Forgive And Be Free
    • The emphasis of forgiveness is often placed on other people, but in hindsight, we need to forgive ourselves. When we learn to forgive ourselves we are taking that power away from the situation. It is allowing that a situation did not go as you had thought and knowing it will be different next time, instead of beating yourself up for being cringy or embarrassed.  We are humans, and humans make mistakes; we are not perfect that is part of the human existence. Bringing ourselves out of the moment and ripping away the context can help us realize that not every situation is as severe as our minds let us believe.  Next time you have an awkward silence in a conversation or trip over the curb, in reality, its only as embarrassing as you let it, you can just say whoops and move on. 
    • Mastering the mindset that everything is only serious as you make it gives you the power to be free from your thoughts. Over time your resilence to tough situations will strengthen when you learn not to sweat the small stuff.