Being a good friend to yourself
We all want to be a good friend. When a friend of ours is in need of help, or just a sympathetic ear, we can’t be there for them quick enough.
But have you ever thought about doing that for yourself? For most of us, this idea doesn’t cross our path. We tend to look after everyone else first.
So how about this: have you ever let a friendship go?
While most friendships are special connections to be nurtured, there are some that only work in one direction. It is so easy to get into a one-sided or even toxic friendship, simply by trying to be a good person. We show up, we bond, we support, and before you know it you find yourself giving a disproportionate amount of energy to the other person.
Today I would like to encourage you to think about the health of your friendships, and especially about your relationship with yourself.
We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
The reality is that this pattern of filling everybody else’s metaphorical cup before your own isn’t sustainable over time. It ultimately ends with dysfunction and falling out. When you give too much for too long, the end result is burnout and resentment. Not great for your relationships, or for you - wouldn't you agree?
At this point you might be thinking something like “I understand the theory, but how do I apply this to my life?”.
My approach to this is to think a little bit outside the box. Many of us find it easy to be a good friend to other people, but feel guilty or indulgent for taking care of our own needs first. So then, how about putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes?
When you need to be nicer to yourself, try asking yourself what your best friend would say to you. Or how about what you would say to your best friend if they were in your position?
Perhaps they would tell you to rest, offer you reassurance, and tell you to give yourself time. Are these things you would typically tell yourself? If not, then you’ve just identified something to work on.
Here are a few simple ways to be a better friend to yourself today:
1. How are you feeling?
Every time you ask a friend how they are feeling today, remember to check in with yourself too. Maybe you are feeling a little tired and could benefit from planning some quiet time into your day. We often neglect these things, but when we take care of our own needs, everyone around us benefits from our improved mood and energy.
2. Do you need support with something?
If your friends don’t notice when you need support, then try asking them for it. After all, if one of your friends reached out to you for support, you would happily help. Remember that this works in both directions, and it is perfectly okay to ask.
3. Praise and reassurance
If your friend was feeling down or low in confidence – what would you do? Perhaps you would remind them of how resourceful and strong they are. You can do this for yourself too!
If your confidence is low, think back to all the achievements in your life that you are proud of. We often forget those great things we have done, and instead we focus on the current struggle in front of us.
Widen your focus just a little bit and remind yourself how capable you are, just like a friend would.