Me, Myself, and I: Best Friends Forever

woman drinking a coffee at homeBecoming your own best friend is the most powerful thing you can do to care for yourself in a compassionate, loving, and forgiving manner. We are all unbelievably hard on ourselves on a daily basis. We do not need to read about standards of beauty, intelligence, and performance on social media in order to measure ourselves against others—we do this on our own in a fierce, unhealthy, and often mean manner.

Many times we are our own best selves in the caring of others. With our friends, we are kind, gentle, loving, and forgiving. Think of the last time you were a good friend. Maybe you got a phone call and someone you care about asked you for help, a warm shoulder to cry on, or a compassionate ear. Maybe you met for coffee and sat focused and centered on your friend as he or she shared with you some hurtful experience or challenge. What did you do? How did you act?

A good friend is someone who doesn’t judge you and provides a safe environment for you to let your guard down. We love our BFFs. We nurture these connections as they become crucial to the way we handle the ups and downs of our lives.

Unfortunately, we rarely show this same compassion and unconditional love to ourselves in the everyday challenges we are faced with. In place of this gentleness, we find ourselves living with a judging tyrant inside our heads who is critical, cruel, and often cynical, making us feel less than good enough or worthless. If you could replace that judge with an internal BFF, you may learn how to care about yourself in a compassionate, meaningful way that frees you up to pursue your life in a new light.

How do you do this? It’s actually pretty simple.

Perhaps a person shares some form of critical self-judgment, such as looking in the mirror and hating what he or she sees because (insert negative thoughts here). Or perhaps a person cuts himself or herself down with words such as, “If only I wasn’t so (lazy/unmotivated/undisciplined/tired), I would be better at (fill in the blank).”

I ask the person to take the scenario and imagine that a best friend is sitting in front of him or her, making these self-judging statements. Imagining being the listener, the person knows just how to soothe the friend’s self-criticism. It’s remarkable, actually, how easy it is to know what to say. When you love someone unconditionally, you are able to share your love and help the person feel cared about for his or her perfectly imperfect self.

This BFF trick can help with almost any challenge you may find yourself struggling with. Make a mistake at work that you are beating yourself up for? Feel like you are not being the perfect parent? Is your partner not listening to you or validating your needs? No matter what the internal judgment is, I encourage you to take a minute to breathe and imagine how you would support your best friend if this scenario was playing out over a cup of coffee and your friend was sharing the same story. What would you say? How would you help the person forgive himself/herself or become his or her own advocate for fair treatment?

The best part is that when you see how successful you can be at internalizing your best friend, you get to have your BFF with you everywhere you go. As you hone this skill, you become an advocate and warrior for yourself. You learn to not tolerate others treating you poorly and find the courage to stick up for yourself. You can be the most supportive, unconditionally loving person in your life to yourself.

Living your life from this perspective is empowering and provides you with one of the strongest forms of self-care there is. It is the gift of unconditional positive acceptance of you. Give it a try the next time you need your BFF and see if you can find a kinder you.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stacey Neil, MA, LMFT, CPT, therapist in Los Gatos, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Mullins

    Mullins

    June 2nd, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    This can give most of us a sense of power that we long ago turned over to other people.
    How great it feels to regain that power, and be joyful in the fact that we are supporting our own deeds and actions, and that it is no longer good enough or anywhere near acceptable to beat up on ourselves anymore!

  • Marcia

    Marcia

    June 3rd, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    I can see both the negatives and the positives of this. Of course it is always better to love yourself and to have some confidence that you are a good and well meaning person. But at the same time when you get so wrapped up in yourself and don’t let anyone else in, then you would have the tendency to reinforce all of the bad things that others can see but then you never have anyone that you will allow to kind of get you growunded again. I am not saying that you always need naysayers in your life but it nice to have those around you who can tell it like it is, and sometimes we all need just a little bit of that in our lives, whether we like what they have to say or not.

  • connor

    connor

    June 4th, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    I love it that I am my own best friend. I have others in my life who I also think of as best buds, but I know that in the end the one person I can always truly count on is me. I don’t mind that at all. My parents taught me that you can always have other people in your life but you shouldn’t always be so dependent on them because even the good ones could bail on you at any time. Sometimes you are all that you have so you might as well love that person and make the most of it.

  • Tess

    Tess

    November 22nd, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Very interesting read u must love yrself in order to love at all !!! But it’s so true u can only rely on yrself u r the truck in yr tree !!!

  • bianca

    bianca

    June 19th, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Being your own best friend wow a few years ago I honestly did not know how to do that or how to even live myself.. I was never good enough in my head I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough.. The list went on and on…it was so bad because I could list everything that was wrong with me but ask me to write what I loved about me and I couldn’t..thank gid for therapy and the support of my amazing friends and family now I know that I am good enough just the way I am…I am constantly reminding myself that it is okay if I am not perfect…I have come along way so I pressure myself constantly…

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