How To Be Your Own Best Friend
Because you deserve the best.
Friends are important. They boost you up when you’re blue, serve as a touchstone to remind you who you are, and nudge you to be your best self. But the closest friend you’ll ever have is the one who greets you in the mirror every single morning.
Sure, no one is an island – we all read that John Donne poem in school. We depend on each other; it’s good to be in community with your fellow humans, build close relationships, and foster friendships. But it’s also true that in the end, you really only have yourself. We all do die alone. And you’re the one who has to be able to face yourself at the end of the day. If you don’t treat yourself well, why should anyone else?
Still, we often treat ourselves worse than we’d ever treat another person. This is not only sad and unfair, it’s totally human nature. But it’s also within your power to change. Here are 7 ways to be your own best friend – because you deserve the best.
1. Be nice
Sometimes I catch myself saying things to myself that I’d never say to anyone else – especially not someone I care about. Things like, ‘why are you so stupid?’ or ‘anyone who loves you must be crazy; you’re such a fuck-up.’ I walk around in a fog of self-hate, beating myself up for anything and everything: letting people hurt my feelings, not having a successful enough career, being a shitty mom, failing as a wife. Then when I catch myself doing this, I beat myself up some more for not being a good friend to myself. The only way to break the cycle is to just STOP. I have to believe that I’m not so bad, that I’m worthy of love, that I’m enough, just as I am. If you do this – and let’s be honest, we all do it – the best way to be a good friend to yourself is to knock it off and be nice.
2. Put your phone down
Here’s a thing about me: if you see me posting a lot on social media, it’s a good bet I’m feeling pretty low. When I’m depressed, angry, anxious, or otherwise unsettled, I disappear into my phone, compulsively scrolling, tapping, posting, tweeting, commenting and ‘liking’ things. The more I stare at that screen the worse I feel, yet it also comforts me somehow. Maybe comfort isn’t the word; maybe it just numbs me. I can’t tear myself away, and then I hate myself for being glued to it. Forcing myself to step away from my phone is one of the best ways I know to be a better friend to myself, and shake off my funk.
3. Move your body
I’m a runner, not because I love running, but because when I don’t run, I get depressed. Running is a lifeline for me. And still, many days it’s a struggle to make myself do it. My daughter once physically pushed me out the door after I’d laced up my sneakers and then announced that I hate running and wasn’t going to go after all. She was right to do it – I felt better afterwards. Whether it’s running, dancing, Zumba, or riding your bike, moving your body until your heart pounds and you sweat a little (or a lot) is a lovely thing to do for yourself.
4. Quit your job
Okay, don’t really quit your job. (Well, not necessarily.) But ease up a little. If you tend toward workaholism, give yourself a break. Some days, I don’t move from my desk for hours at a time. Of course, I’ll only realize this when my bladder is about to burst, because I’ve been so engrossed in my work, I didn’t even get up to use to bathroom. Do I need to explain why this isn’t healthy? A good friend won’t let you disappear into a black hole of work, so be your own friend and tear yourself away. Take a walk in the sunshine, drink a glass of water, stretch your legs. Maybe even go see a movie, or call a friend.
5. Straighten up
If you’re living in a mess, it’s as much as admitting you’ve given up. You can’t have people over, you can’t find anything, and you feel bad about yourself every time you walk in the door and see the filth and clutter inhabiting your home. What would you do if your best friend was coming over? Well, guess what – you are your friend. So tidy up just as if you were expecting company. Make your bed, scrub the bathroom, and clean out the sink full of dirty dishes. Run the vacuum and buy some flowers to put in a fancy vase on the kitchen table. You’ll feel better – guaranteed.
6. Don’t obsess
If you tend toward anxiety and depression, like I do, there’s a good chance you have an obsessive personality. That means you overthink things, you might take a lot of risks, you’re impulsive, and you spend a fair amount of time alone. Sometimes your obsession might be with something that seems healthy, like working out, and sometimes it might be with something destructive, like stalking your exes on social media. Being a good friend to yourself means working hard to resist your instinct to obsess about things. If you struggle with addiction, take steps to break free from it. See a therapist or make an appointment with your doctor if you’re having a hard time; there’s nothing wrong with getting help, or taking medication.
7. Say goodbye
If you’re in a dead-end relationship, one of the kindest things you can do for yourself is to break it off once and for all. Same goes for a relationship where you’re giving too much, or one in which you’ve lost your identity. Think about it: if your best friend was in a relationship like that, wouldn’t you tell her to get out? Ending a bad relationship can give you a whole new outlook on life. While it’s hard in the short term, it’s so much better in the grand scheme of things. And besides, you’ll have your best friend – yourself – by your side the entire time. There’s nothing to fear.
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Comment: How do you take good care of yourself?