I never fully understood the importance of being best friends with yourself until I had a meltdown in the middle of the night. I said a lot of unkind things to myself, a lot of thoughts that honestly shouldn’t see the light of day. The next day I woke up to the realization that I had changed. That I was no longer the self-assured woman who knew where she was going, how she was getting there, and why she was going there. The unwavering certainty of pursuing a goal eluded me, and so my sense of self-efficacy was taking near fatal blows.
[Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their innate abilities to succeed in specific situations, achieve goals, or accomplish tasks. You can read a little more on self-efficacy to better understand it here.]
The thing with self-efficacy is, it affects both your confidence and self-esteem. It’s tricky little situation. Anyways, upon this realization that I had changed, it also occurred to me that I never used to talk to myself quite this badly before. I was a believer, but even that was starting to elude me. I decided that morning that I needed to re-learn being best friends with myself.
Here’s why being best friends with yourself rocks
I don’t know about you, but my best friends and I generally don’t bash each other, at all. He can bash himself sometimes, but it’s my job to remind him what an awesome person he is. (For the sake of easy writing I’m going to refer to the said best friend as a guy, but you’re free to insert a different gender.) When he’s sad, I listen; when he needs to vent, I listen; when he’s happy, I listen; when he’s victorious, we celebrate.
Point is, best friends support each other and always have each other’s backs. I’d never tell him he’s a loser, I wouldn’t even think it, so in the same vein I shouldn’t be telling it to myself. Do you ever tell your best friend, when he’s feeling like a failure, that he might as well not bother trying because there’s really no point at all? Do you tell him that he’ll always be in the same position no matter how hard he tries, because success just isn’t his thing? I don’t! I’m not a shitty friend, and if your friends say that to you, find new ones.
When you are best friends with yourself, you can acknowledge your shortfalls without bashing yourself. You’ll cheer yourself on, because you believe in yourself, just like you believe in your best friend. You don’t believe the negative things he says about himself, so why do you believe it about yourself? In the cases where those things are true, then you help him become a better person.
Most importantly best friends are kind to each other. They’re compassionate and forgiving. The best of friends are nice to one another, and treat each other with respect. And so that’s what I’ll do with myself, and maybe you should too.
Why it matters
Why does your best friend matter? When shit hits the ceiling, you could lose your sanity. Imagine you’re unemployed, or your small business isn’t turning a good profit, or you’re falling to secure clients; then hearing a consistent whisper in your head telling you how much you suck? Or how bad everything is and that it’s only going to get worse?
There’s a mental load to constantly battling panic, fear, hopelessness and anxiety. It’s tiring, and leaves you emotionally drained. If things aren’t going very well for you, then the last thing you need is constant negativity in your head. You’re going to need all the love and support you need, so why not start it from within?
So many things are beating at my mind I can’t afford to add to my own misery with self-bashing and a crippling permission. I’d rather put that energy towards being kinder to myself. That’s why it matters. That’s why it’s important to be treat yourself like your best friend.
What being best friends with yourself means
It means you’re more patient with yourself, with the pace of the progress you’re making. Being your own best friend entails practising tolerance with yourself and your flaws; it means forgiving yourself more for your fuck-ups. I learnt long ago to be as objective as possible about my skills and abilities, and I’m grateful that aspect hasn’t changed. Honesty is an essential part of a healthy relationship, and all of us should maintain that within ourselves.
Moreover, for me, being best friends with myself means working towards my goals, but not putting too much pressure on myself. It means sparing myself the torture of comparison and yet using it to propel me forward. Most importantly it means loving myself more, and showing myself more kindness and tolerance.
Now you try it. Befriend yourself, be kinder to yourself and see what happens. Share it with your friends so they can do it too.