Editors note: This is a guest post from Caroline Savransky
You Are Your Own Best Friend
“You have to love yourself” said every friend, counselor and motivational quote ever, but that’s where the advice generally ends. Well, we all know that loving yourself is a huge part of living a fulfilling life and maintaining healthy relationships but it’s such a vague term that tends to only cause us anxiety through the mere fact that we do not know how to achieve it.
The way we perceive ourselves begins from a very early age. We are born as relatively clean slates, apart from factors like genetics, and what happens from our birth and throughout our lives makes impressions on that slate. The older we are, the less impressionable we are but as children everything we experience leaves its mark. From a tiny passing comment on the street all the way to how our parents treated us as children, it all sinks in as we learn about the ins and outs of life and love.
Let’s not beat about the bush, learning to love oneself as an adult is a difficult goal but it is achievable. It’s about re-wiring certain think patterns that we built up from the days of being a kid. We may not remember every little thing that had an impact on us growing up, but it’s not about dwelling on the past, you have work with the now. Here are a few tips on how to become your own best friend and learn to love yourself as if you’ve never been hurt;
Listen to the critic
When a negative or critical thought begins to encroach we tend to try to push it away. “Don’t listen to it,” we urge ourselves, but how can we take control of it if we ignore it?
Overlooking our own thoughts and feelings is simply invalidating a part of ourselves, albeit a negative and unhelpful part, it is still a part. Hear what it has to say, but make a conscious decision not to believe it. By listening to your thoughts and actively disagreeing with them, you are challenging a predisposition that has taught you that you are not good enough.
Listen to everything your mind has to say. In the same way you would not tell your friend to stop talking if they were expressing to you their deep seeded insecurities, do not shut yourself up. Listen and re-assure yourself that it is not the truth.
Rebel like a teenager
The most exciting part of growing up was doing things you were told you couldn’t do. As you get older, acting out is just not the same but there is still a way you can break the rules. Your own rules.
That voice telling you that you can’t achieve your goals, that you’re not good enough. What would the teenager inside of you do if you were told you couldn’t do something in high school? You would yearn for it tenfold!
Act out against yourself.
Take note of everything you believe you cannot do. These are barriers put into place by nobody but you. Make it an active goal to prove you wrong. Break the barriers and break the rules.
You can run a marathon, you can go further in your career, you can fall in-love and have a healthy relationship. The more you say you can’t, the more you should fight for it. Let that mischievous teenager out it’s time somebody broke the rules.
Write it all down
As soon as a negative thought about you creeps up, write it down. But don’t write it as if you’re saying it to yourself; write it down as if you’re criticizing your best friend. So for example instead of “I suck at everything” write “[Sarah] sucks at everything”
It will be difficult to write because you know that you’re saying these horrible things about somebody you love but that might put into perspective how harsh you are being on yourself. Imagine how they would feel if you said it to them, now stop and realize that you’re saying these things to yourself on a daily basis. No wonder you’re brain is wired to work against you.
“[Sarah] looks fat today”, “[Sarah] doesn’t deserve a boyfriend”, “[Sarah] is clumsy.” Wow how mean are you being to your best friend?!
Now realize that you are your own best friend and this is how you’re treating yourself. Start standing up against yourself and challenge these thoughts. They aren’t the bosses of you.
Keep good company
You know that annoying girl that keeps making your friend feel bad at work? You tell her to stay away from her, you want to protect her from the mean words and looks she gives your friend you’d slap her if you could! But when it comes to your own life, you settle for certain things that you shouldn’t.
That guy that never called you back after the date, your boss who makes you work over-time for free, that girl at your gym who tells you to exercise harder. Imagine what you would do if these people were criticizing your best friend. You wouldn’t take an ounce of it.
Get rid of people who bring you down.
That may be easier said than done, you can’t just walk away from your boss or the guy in the next office but what you can do for situations that are beyond your control is spoken to yourself like you would to Sarah.
“You did a great job, it’s no matter what he said.”
Now for the people you actually can control in your life your friends.
If your friends only like meeting up if you’re having a drink, if they only like to talk about themselves, if they aren’t there for you when you need to have a chat. They are no friends of Sarah’s so they’re no friends of yours.
Treat yourself right
Cook a lovely meal just for yourself once in a while, get dolled up and go watch a movie on your own, buy a dress to congratulate yourself for working extra hard this week. You deserve it. If you don’t believe that now, than practice the steps before hand, and slowly but surely learn that you are worthy of everything.
There is no quick fix to a way of thinking that you have built up over a lifetime. This will be difficult but it will be worthwhile. Always remember, would Sarah allow you to beat yourself up like that?
So how will you be treating your best friend this week?
Caroline Savransky is a mental health journalist who enjoys exploring the human psyche. She believes that the mind is the most powerful tool we have been given and to combine this gift with a healthy body leaves us able to reach holistic health. She has a penchant for writing self-help articles and aims to write a book one day.