When was the last time you reflected on yourself? How long has it been since you checked in on your wellbeing, the way you would for a friend or family member?
Times spent in isolation present unique challenges and opportunities. While stress and anxiety abound, you can also use this opportunity to enact positive changes. But to do so, you’ll need the support of the one person who has been with you your entire life: you. If you’re not already your own best friend, then now’s the time to learn how.
Let’s look at some uncontroversial statements about best friends and see how they can relate to finding the “best friend” within ourselves.
When you know someone well, you’re often able to sense their feelings. You may know what a close friend wants or needs before they realize it themselves.
You’ve spent your whole life with yourself, likely far longer than you’ve known any of your friends. So how is it that so many of us know so little about our nature? It’s because you need to take time to get to know yourself.
Journaling is a great way to get to know yourself better. Make a habit of spending some time each day jotting down your thoughts, dreams, and how you’re feeling. Expressive writing can help you deal with stress and will give you a clearer insight into your thoughts1.
Meditation is a very reflective activity. It enables you to focus your thoughts inward and lets you get in tune with your wellbeing. Meditation is how you listen to your body and mind without judgment. What is it telling you?
Honesty is vital in close relationships. Being honest doesn’t mean being cruel or needlessly truthful, but it does mean you’re looking out for someone’s best interests.
Be honest with yourself. Is there something you need to improve? A bad habit you need to kick? Best friends hold each other accountable, but they do so in a supportive manner.
Balance your energy by giving credit to positive outcomes. It’s just as important to be honest with yourself when you notice you’re doing things right. Be realistic in acknowledging your hard work and accomplishments. Things are difficult right now; don’t undersell your gumption.
Many of us are quick to encourage our friends to chase their dreams but then shy away from pursuing our own. Yet we are in the perfect position to be our own best cheerleader.
Cheerleading includes giving yourself every chance to succeed. If you have a goal, a dream, or a need, encourage yourself to live up to your potential. Steer your mind away from self-doubt. When you start to notice yourself thinking, “I can’t do this,” remind yourself of what a best friend would tell you. That you can do this. That you’re more than capable and that you deserve to try.
We tend to be more forgiving of others as we age. Multiple studies and anecdotes show that those with more life experience tend to be quicker to forgive than their younger counterparts2.
But what about self-forgiveness?
We forgive and care for our loved ones unconditionally, and should extend the same love to ourselves. No one is perfect. There will always be mistakes that you make or places where you come up short. You may be your own harshest critic, but don’t deny yourself acceptance and forgiveness.
When you think of spending time with your best friend, what kind of memories come to mind? Do you think of late nights up talking and laughing? What about the fun trips taken together? Fun nights out on the town?
A best friend is someone who you love to spend time with. You’re excited to see them or hear their voice on the phone. You should be just as content to spend time with yourself. Being alone doesn’t have to be a miserable experience if you enjoy your own company. Many people look forward to a chance to relax, reflect, and practice self-care.
Self-care and self-compassion are powerful tools. You may think you know yourself pretty well, but like any relationship, there’s room for growth. As you get to know yourself better, you’ll be able to handle your emotions more successfully and work through stress and anxiety.
Of course, none of this precludes staying in touch with your other best friends. Being your own best friend means being able to harness the positivity in loneliness. Being alone allows you the opportunity to commune with yourself. It can be a chance to self-assess and move forward, bettering yourself and those around you.
As we weather these times together, we must stay in touch with those closest to us, including ourselves.
(1) Carpenter S (2001 Sept) A new reason for keeping a diary
(2) Markman Ph.D. (2012 Apr) Why Are People More Forgiving When They Get Older?