One person you will always have to face is yourself and thus becoming your own best friend can be very empowering. When we allow ourselves and others to be congruent - to act in accordance with how we really feel and think, with respect for ourselves and others, we are not only being a good friend to others, but also to ourselves.
A good friend
Would you consider yourself to be a good friend?
Most people whether, consciously or unconsciously have (a list of) criteria of what constitutes a good friend. Commonly honesty and reliability rate high on such a list and are considered virtuous qualities. The importance of friendships is immense. Part of being human is to desire to belong, to connect, to join. The benefits of friendships for our sense of well being and happiness have been widely documented. Children naturally form friendships, and as teenagers the importance of friendships increases, sometimes resulting in bonds that last well into old age. Studies even suggest that a strong sense of connection is a contributor to a long life.
The importance of surrounding ourselves with a group of friends varies throughout our lives and is in part influenced by our circumstances and our age. As teenagers our entire lives seem to revolve around friendships. As we mature our deep seated need for connection by no means lessen. However, a great part of our emotional need for connection is now satisfied within the family and further supported by a circle of friends that we have accumulated over the years.
Friends come and go. Some people enter our lives for a certain period of time, and when they leave we discover what they were here to offer, what we needed to exchange. In this way we come to appreciate the flow of our lives as a natural process. However, one person you will always have to face is yourself and thus becoming your own best friend can be very empowering.
While you may be considered a good friend by your friends, you might not necessarily be your own best friend. The invitation is to tune in to your internal dialogue and reflect on some of the following;
- What is the quality of the communication to yourself?
- Is it kind, unkind, or punitive?
- If so, what are some of the messages you feed yourself?
- Do you respect yourself by listening to the feelings that arise in you?
- How do you treat yourself when you are sad or angry?
It can be tempting to ignore our feelings, as they may not feel appreciated or comfortable. However, imagine for a moment, your best friend approaching you feeling down and in the need of support, wanting to share a sensitive issue. Would you ever dream of running away and ignoring that friend? The answer for most is no. However, when we are active in our addiction, we are essentially ignoring our feelings, running away from ourselves and our pain. In shedding light on our internal world and becoming aware of the quality of our internal dialogue we might come to see that the love and care we extend outwards is not necessarily offered internally.
Today’s daily reading here at Life Works was on the topic of honesty;
‘Being honest’, the text said, ‘is never boring. Honesty is exciting, scary, provocative etc. but never boring’. The text invited us to ask ourselves in every moment; ‘are you being honest? What are you not saying? Are you refraining from speaking your truth out of fear?’
Paradoxically, some of us will be considered good friends because we show up for our friends, by listening emphatically and offering support, whilst often ignoring our own voice (or needs). In tuning in to your feelings, what are you not willing to hear and honour in yourself? What feelings seem unacceptable and consequently difficult to communicate honestly? An honest no, rather than a dishonest yes, is a powerful form of self care. When we honour our feelings and act accordingly, we live in integrity. We become our own best friend. If we are busy constantly giving, we never have time to feed ourselves and honour our own needs.
Most of us tend to consider those that agree with us as good friends, and those that don’t as enemies. But is that really so? Perhaps we are doing ourselves a disservice by deeming honesty as cruel? When we communicate honestly and from a place of love and kindness, truth is not malicious. When we allow ourselves and others to be congruent, - to act in accordance with how we really feel and think, with respect for ourselves and others, we are not only being a good friend to others, but also to ourselves.