8 Enjoyable Steps to Being Your Own Best Friend
One of the most amazing gifts we can give ourselves is often tragically overlooked.
As far as friends go, we have drinking buddies, lovely coffee shop partners, and others that are so comfortable to us they are better referred to as family. The truth is though, each of these companions has their own busy lives to attend to, and cannot always be on perfect cue with our troubles. Sometimes we think we need someone's glass to clink, ear to talk off, or a few moments of comfy silence just knowing a friend is there to see you. These are all amazing expressions of friendship, but they're missing one vital component we all NEED...
to have someone who cares about us unconditionally.
But can we find friends that are there for us ALL the time?? People we KNOW we can trust to make the best decisions for our well-being?
I can still feel the stabbing loneliness of dozens of nights spent sulking, waiting for someone to answer my persistent calls. Whenever a friend needed me, I would drop everything I was doing under any circumstance and rush to their rescue. When it was my turn, the longer I waited for a return ring, the more resentful I became that the people who were always supposed to be there for me now had better things to do. I always assumed I was being the best friend I could be for having such a selfless responsibility to my friends; except it wasn't so selfless when I expected them to come running for me in return.
I'd seen cutesy inspirational quotes online about being your own best friend, but this seemed absurd to me. If you only take care of yourself then you're selfish, if you compliment yourself then you're stuck up, and talking to yourself at all makes you a nutcase, right? It sounded to me like there was no good way to be your own friend if nurturing your needs was so often deemed inappropriate.
Then I attended a yoga workshop in the fall, and found myself powerfully blindsided by the message. Told with the feel of a peaceful story, the guided meditation gave us a peek into our childhood selves and the grief we may have been carrying since. I began sobbing right there in class, but could suddenly only focus on taking care of that little girl with the curly black hair and no one to understand her but her books and journals. She was neglected, stomped on, and not always loved as she deserved. In that moment, there was no one there to nurture her breaking heart but me, and I knew I had to try to heal that little girl inside me that had never stopped hurting.
Since this breakthrough, I can wrap my mind around how important it is to loveyourself. I used to hate the pathetic face I saw in the mirror, alone with her anxious thoughts and dormant cell phone, always waiting around for someone else to pick her up off the floor. Now that I have given myself a chance, I know I am capable of molding my own happiness, beginning my own healing, picking myself up all on my own.
Learning to enjoy our own company is crucial for discovering our calling and reaching for our biggest dreams. Accepting and respecting our own needs allows us to get out of bed easier every morning, forgive ourselves for past pain, and deal with the grief we've felt too broken to face.
Knowing where to start is the most gigantic step here. At first, loving yourself may seem tricky or even ridiculous, but like anything else, practice will prove that your willingness alone has always been your toughest obstacle.
Thankfully, a few simple tweaks in your daily behavior will show you how to nurture your wounds and become your own best support system.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Talk to Yourself. If you've ever discussed this with anyone, then you know we all do it. Don't be afraid to get to know yourself, observe your mannerisms, recognize patterns in your reactions, and learn from the Talking-It-Out Superpower even when alone.
2. Compliment Yourself and Feel Proud of Your Accomplishments. We've been taught that acknowledging our own good qualities makes us self-centered, but that is far from true. Recognize your impressive qualities and talents, and allow yourself to feel good about them in a loving, not egotistical, way. This helps us cherish our shining moments, and reach for more of them in the future.
3. Talk to Your Pets. Again, we all do it, or at least we all have the urge to. Your pets are your most forgiving family members, and will love you unconditionally no matter how many times you repeat the same story. Take advantage of their supportive energy and talk to them like coffee shop gal pals if it lifts your lonesome burden.
4. Let Yourself Laugh (especially when you're alone!). This one is my absolute favorite and has been the best at showing me the love in my heart. If you have a witty thought, hilarious comment, or you trip over the cat's food bowl and fall on your face, let yourself laugh out loud. Laughter releases physical tension, lowers stress hormones, improves your mood, and so much more. When you allow yourself to laugh heartily, you are truly offering an invaluable gift to your spirit. Add on that you were the cause of this laughter, and you can appreciate yourself in a way that feels like nothing else your heart has ever experienced.
5. Create. Explore your hands, fingertips, imagination, talents, paints, yarn, slow cooker, bicycle, whatever. Finding your passion, or even just an adored hobby, distracts from dwelling on stressful thoughts and shows us how rewarding our time spent alone can be. Finding healthy ways to love yourself means no more nights spent depending on others for your happiness.
6. Don't Be Afraid of Your Body. We see children reach an age where they become curious about their bodies and have the urge to explore their growth. As we get older, our physical selves continue to change, and it's natural to wonder what the heck's going on. Your body is the moldable temple you carry with you your entire life, so don't be afraid of it! If you have never taken a peak or a feel around, then know it is never too late to become comfortable with yourself. Body image is taken so seriously that it can be impossible to love your soul's armour if you don't learn to appreciate its pieces, regardless of your body type. Discover that hidden beauty mark, notice the softness or your hair, trace the veins that pump life through you in every moment. Do not let yourself feel dirty or ashamed. Instead, embrace this human form that we have all been given. Remember, "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike" (Maya Angelou).
7. Do What Makes You Happy. Spending time alone at home doesn't have to force you into a rut. In fact, it can be the most fun you ever have because you can be yourself completely. Improv a limerick, dance in your underwear, cook twenty crock pot meals in one day, wear your favorite worn out jeans, blast that guilty pleasure song, DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY IN THAT MOMENT. There is no "normal" or "strange," there is only the nurturing of your true spirit.
8. Don't be afraid to try something new. What do you have to lose by loving yourself in a new way? A few minutes of your time will gear you towards kindness, laughter, learning, and overdue forgiveness.
Before you can believe it, these practices will become easier and more natural than letting your negative emotions control your actions.