We've all heard the phrase "be your own best friend." What does this mean? Most people think of friendship as involving two or more people. So how can one person be his/her own best friend? Spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth, explains that we each have two parts of ourselves. He says we have two eyes, or "I's." When we say things like, "I love myself," or "I'm so mad at myself," we are talking about the two different "I's." There is the part that he calls the "observer." This is the part that observes the inner self, judges it, motivates it, and makes decisions for and about it. Let's call this part the "I." Then there is the part that he calls the "true self." This is the part that is our deep down, inner, true self. Some call it the "soul," the "gut," or the "God within." Let's call this part "myself."
The "I" is more about our mind, and our brain, talking non-stop about what is happening in our lives. For many of us, it is controlled by outside influences as well as our inner critic. Many of us are so focused on the "I" that we completely neglect the "myself." When we do this, we can become our own worst enemy instead of our own best friend. Sometimes we beat ourselves up more than anyone else ever has. This often results in depression and inertia. When you are feeling sad and lonely, you can be sure that you have neglected your "myself."
So how do we change this scenario? First, we must think about what the qualities of true friendship are. True friendship requires trust, caring, respect, empathy, validation and support. It requires sometimes going out of our way to do something for someone just because it will make them happy. It requires dedication, loyalty, and consistent communication. When your "I" uses these qualities on your "myself," you will have become your own best friend.
Step One: Trust Yourself
The first method for self-befriending is to trust oneself. Trust is the foundation for all good relationships. You may have not always made the best decisions, but every decision taught you something important, and helped you make better decisions. Once you are in touch with the "ME" you will know who you really are, deep down, and the "ME" always knows the best thing for you. Sometimes you cannot trust others, or the world, but you can trust your inner wisdom. You can only trust your inner self when you are, relaxed, clear-headed and sober. When we are stressed, tired, harried, intoxicated, frustrated, or angry, we often make impulsive decisions that do not serve us well. Spend some quiet time in relaxation or meditation each day, asking the question, "Who is the ME?" "What is best for ME?" "What would most serve my highest good?" Your answers will come, and they will serve you well.
Step Two: Care About Yourself
This method is about caring for yourself. True friends care about you and want the best for you. They want you to be healthy, safe, productive and happy. You should care about yourself and for yourself first, before you care about others. This is because if you don't take good care of yourself, you can't possibly take good care of others. Caring about yourself means making your physical health, mental health and safety the MOST important things in your life. Caring means communicating with yourself about what feels right or wrong. It means listening to your inner self, and paying attention to what is going on inside you. There are true friends and superficial friends. True friends go deeper with each other, and the only way to go deep is by trusting each other, which you have already done in step one. Trust yourself you're your deeper feelings, needs, and desires. Then start taking care of yourself.
Stop putting off your doctor's appointments. Stop putting off your diet and exercise program. Take time to pray, relax, and/or meditate each day. Make sure you handle all the things in your life that are causing you stress. You may need to get "tough love" for yourself and others to complete this step. Caring means loving, and sometimes you have to get tough with yourself in order to love yourself.
By the same token, real friends will let you know if they feel you are entering dangerous territory. They will try to warn you and/or prepare you for difficulties that may lie ahead. They may, at times, have to get "tough love" with you to protect you. Protecting yourself is the most important thing you can do to be your own best friend.
Step Three: Respect Yourself
Respecting yourself involves making good decisions about yourself every moment of the day. Always asking yourself, "What would be best for my highest good?" will provide you with the answers to your decisions, and the next step is to act on them. When you know you have made the best decision possible at the time, and you feel it is the right thing to do, you will have self-respect. Take time to think about the ways you currently respect yourself, and clean up any barriers to respecting yourself. When you can say, "I'm proud of myself for this decision, knowing it was the best overall decision for my highest good," you will know you have respected your true self.
Step Four: Have Empathy for Yourself
This method centers on empathic listening. It requires that a friendly aspect of your psyche converse with the part that most needs support. It is like the nurturing parent within you talking to the sad or weak child within you, telling him/her that everything is going to be all right. Sometimes the parent within you needs to soothe the child within you. Tell yourself that you understand what you are going through. Tell yourself it's okay to have your feelings about it, and that feelings are not right or wrong - they just are. Accept your feelings and allow yourself time to heal. Forgive yourself and encourage yourself to keep moving forward. Remind yourself that "this too, shall pass."
Step Five: Validate Yourself
Real friends encourage, validate and support you. Real friends delight in your happiness. Allow yourself the blessing of delighting in your own happiness, your positive experiences, your own "ups," and your own "wins." Tell yourself that you want yourself to be happy and at peace. Validate yourself by reminding yourself of all your accomplishments, all the good things you have created, all your wonderful attributes, and all that is positively unique about you. Compliment yourself for all you have done, all that you are now doing, and all that you will do. Have your own back. Stand up for yourself and defend yourself just like a good friend would do. Be your own best cheerleader!
Step Six: Support Yourself
This method involves understanding what support means to you. Write down all the ways you support others. Now think about how you can support YOURSELF in these same ways. A supportive friend will listen to you, ask you questions without judgement, and ask you what it is they can do for you to best support you right now. So be your own supportive friend and listen to yourself. Ask questions about your feelings and thoughts. Ask yourself what you need to feel supported right now. Ask yourself what you really want right now. Ask your inner self what he/she feels would be best for you right now, for your highest good, and the overall good of everyone concerned. Deep inside you have all the answers to your questions. Take the time to support yourself by going within.
And remember, true friends don't need you to always be entertaining them. They don't always need to be talking about problems. They don't always need to be doing fun, exciting things. They are happy just to "be" with you, doing nothing, anywhere, just hanging out. It feels good to be "human beings" together - not always "human doings" together. True friends enjoy each other's company. Hang out with yourself and find all the reasons why you enjoy yourself. Enjoying your "alone" time is a gift. When you are your own best friend, you will be happy and content just being with yourself. Having a best friend is wonderful. But being your own best friend is the greatest gift anyone could ever have!