Who is your best friend? Your closest confidant? Your “go to” source of support?
Of all of your relationships (many of which have come and gone), which is the longest established and still continuing?
If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is, or should be: YOU! If you think about it, your only relationship that lasts from your conception until your last breath is the relationship that you have with yourself.
You’re essentially stuck with yourself. So it behooves you to get along with yourself to (dare I say?) like yourself. That “internal dialogue” should, ideally, be positive and encouraging.
Having a positive self-perception is an important aspect of overall good mental health.
So, what if a person is not a “card-carrying fan” of their own self? How might one develop an appreciation for self and become his/her own best friend?
Well, any good relationship should be based upon honesty. If you are to love yourself, then you should strive to know and understand (and accept) yourself as fully and authentically as possible.
Combining feedback from others with ongoing self-evaluation can help with that quest. An exploration of your strengths and areas for improvement (that sounds better than weaknesses, doesn’t it?) would seem prudent.
It is crucial during this self-assessment to refrain from being a “hard marker” (a harsh judge). Strive to regard your past as a teacher, take comfort in the idea that change and growth are always possibilities.
Embrace the concept that there is always room for improvement.
As you proceed down the path of self-development towards greater self-acceptance, an initial consideration would be contrasting your more fully realized understanding of who you are with the vision of who you want to be.
As Bill Phillips points out, “The difference between who you are and who you want to be, is what you do.”
George Bernard Shaw is credited with saying, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Self-development can include adopting a new, more positive attitude, becoming more ambitious, increasing patience or self-acceptance.
Self-development can also include beginning an exercise program or diet, resuming your education, finding a new hobby, learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument.
Become a friend to yourself. Become your own cheerleader. Get in touch with your “inner coach” and stifle (or at least censure) your “inner critic.”
Also, seek out and foster stronger (or new) relationships. It is through relationships that we grow.
Recognize and act upon opportunities to help others. There is some belief that helping others can prompt positive physiological changes (increased happiness and sense of well-being).
For times when you might feel overwhelmed by adversity, consider maintaining a “self-care box.” A self-care box is a container of photos or sentimental items that can prompt positive memories, confidence or inspiration.
Perhaps it might include some index cards upon which you’ve written the touching and encouraging words of a friend, mentor, colleague, supervisor, coach, parent or other loved one.
The way that we view ourselves may be an indicator of how we regard others.
Let’s be as generous and loving toward ourselves as we are toward those around us.
Harold Holcomb, LPCC, specializes in counseling. He provides employee assistance program (EAP) counseling and outpatient counseling at the Owensboro Health Healthpark.