We spend a lot of time thinking about our friends and making sure our friends feel supported. However, when we fall into the rhythm of a busy social life, we may unconsciously ignore the most necessary part of supporting our friends: learning how to be our own friend.
In a cherished friendship, we’re mindful to be as caring and wise as we can be to keep our relationship on good terms. But we don’t often afford ourselves the same caring attention.
This animation from The School of Life reminds us how to treat ourselves like we would a good friend.
Here are the two most important ways you can be a better friend to yourself:
1) Accept yourself for who you are — then begin to grow
A friend has an easier time reading situations and avoiding emotional traps than the involved party (you). During challenging times, it can be easier for them to notice how you think and feel. Therefore, any insightful suggestions or pertinent proposals that a good friend makes are based on how well they know you: your past, your background, and your personality. It’s not because they think they have the answer and want to change you, it’s because they care about you and want to help you cope with challenges in your life.
In the safe and comfortable environment they provide, you can feel free to be who you are and express your joy and sorrow, and make mistakes without being afraid of losing your dignity (or your friend). Good friends help us grow through acceptance. We can practice applying that kind of sympathy and imagination to ourselves.
2) Forgive yourself and your mistakes
Good friends listen to us, even to our random complaints and ideas. A rewarding interaction between friends creates a strong connection and builds empathy.
A good friend reminds us that to err, fail, and screw-up is not the worst thing in the world. If you can comfort a friend by saying “don’t worry” and “it’s OK,” you can turn toward yourself and do the same—don’t be stingy with those warm and supportive words! Try some self-compassion and learn how to build a better relationship with yourself.
This article was originally published on April 21, 2017