Are you looking outside of yourself for validation and happiness? Do you let the opinions of others determine if you are happy or not? If so, you’re not alone! And, it’s probably not working too well for you. Take control of your own happiness by being a friend to yourself.
When we depend on others for our happiness, we set an impossible task for ourselves. You really have no control over the happiness of others and if you depend on others for your happiness, you have no control over your own happiness. On the other hand, if you try to make yourself happy instead of everyone else, you know that at least one person will be happy.
Make the commitment to owning your own happiness by being a friend to yourself. Ask yourself, as your own friend, how can you make yourself happy?
The first step in being a friend to yourself may be to learn to look after yourself and put your needs first, without feeling guilty. Are you someone that caters to the needs and wants of everyone else? Has it left you feeling exhausted and resentful? It may be time to set stronger boundaries for yourself and exercise your right to refuse the requests of others. Before jumping in and rescuing others, ask yourself what is the best course of action for you to take? Pay attention to the “shoulds” – they’re often a clear signal that you’re doing something out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Learn to say no, clearly and simply, without lengthy explanations or excuses.
Another step in being a friend to yourself is to learn to praise yourself and enjoy your efforts and successes. If you wait for someone else in your life to do it, you will probably end up feeling resentful when they don’t notice or care. Be your own cheerleader and congratulate yourself for both your large and small efforts. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself rather than to someone else. Make a habit of patting yourself on the back!
As your own best friend, meet your own expectations. Hold yourself accountable to the promises and commitments that you make to yourself. As your own best friend, enjoy the liberty of choosing the way you want to spend your time. Make yourself someone that you can be proud of.
Take control of your own happiness by learning to treat yourself as a friend. Take the time to change, grow, explore, and comfort yourself in ways that no one else can. You and those in your life will all enjoy the benefits of this!
Is your life humming along the way you think it should? If not, are you blaming yourself for this departure from what you think your life should look like? Is this self-blame creating even more stress for you? Here are some stress management techniques to help you establish a new relationship to your expectations.
There are times when life unfolds almost miraculously exactly the way we would like. More often, though, life does not follow our blueprint. When life doesn’t match our expectations, we often feel disappointed and we may feel like we have failed. We may spend so much time trying to resolve why our present doesn’t resemble our imagined future that we fail to notice the rightness and blessings of our very real present. Count your blessings – notice your life as it is, rather than how you imagine it should be. What can you be grateful for this very minute?
Allow yourself to be delighted – rather than annoyed – by surprises that happen to you and that disrupt what you see as your perfect plan. Approach these surprises with curiosity, wondering where they lead. Recall a time in your past when a surprise led to a much better outcome than you could have planned or envisioned.
It is easier to adjust to changes if you maintain an optimistic attitude, a belief that your life is unfolding perfectly and that your experiences are helping you stretch and grow as a person. You might even admit that your imagined ideal way is safe and comfortable and would allow less room for personal growth. Look back on your life at those times when you were challenged in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself. From your vantage point now, would you give up the wisdom you have gained, despite the costs to you?
If you wish your life were different, ask yourself what will it take to change it? Are you committed to complaining or committed to action? Are you using “I don’t know how” as an excuse to maintain the status quo? What needs to happen to move you closer to a life that you love even more?
Being willing to take action will infuse your life with interest, passion, and vitality. Action will bring new options and will open possibilities that may have been unavailable until initial action is taken. Think of your life as a puzzle and each time you take action, you are given a new puzzle piece. Many action steps will give you more puzzle pieces and gradually, your picture will become clearer and more identifiable.
Be especially gentle and kind to yourself when your life is not following your expectations. Release any harsh judgments that you should be able to control each and every outcome. Be a friend to yourself and remember your self-care. Congratulate yourself on your efforts and consider your life a great adventure rather than a life measured solely by defined, planned, and possibly limited, outcomes.
As a personal and spiritual coach, Georgiana Carollus has a keen interest in inspiring people to recognize their brilliance and to treat themselves as well as they treat their friends and loved ones. She offers resources and coaching to help people establish a more caring and supportive relationship with themselves at www.FriendYourselfProject.com. Visit and subscribe to a free Daily Moment of Inspiration!
Are you having trouble coping with any of life’s difficult, stressful, and negative experiences? Noticing something for which you are grateful can effectively counteract negative emotions. Studies have shown that a conscious focus on your blessings can have an immediate emotional benefit and can help reduce your feelings of stress.
What are you grateful for? If nothing comes to mind, it is time to refocus your attention. Even the most beautiful sight can be taken for granted when you see it every day, just as the blessings of good health, close relationships, and comfortable shelter commonly go unnoticed and under-appreciated.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami conducted a study and found that a control group that was instructed to notice experiences of gratitude as they were happening and to make a list of these, was 25% happier than a group that was instructed to pay attention to daily annoyances and another group that only recorded neutral life events. The gratitude group also reported more optimism than the other two groups in the study. (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, no. 2 (2003), pp. 377-389.)
Take a few moments to look at your life with fresh eyes and identify what you have to be grateful for. Instead of just making a list, allow yourself to feel gratitude for each of these blessings. Feeling gratitude allows us to tap into deeper and more sustainable ways of experiencing fulfillment. When we are grateful for what we already have, we banish disappointment and move into a space of contentment.
As part of your gratitude practice, be sure to friend yourself and express gratitude to yourself for your efforts, traits, talents, and accomplishments. Strengthen the bonds with those in your life by moving beyond your inward feelings of gratitude and by verbally expressing gratitude to them.
Start today to establish an attitude and practice of gratitude. Employ gratitude to reduce stress and to be a better friend to yourself and to others.
Review how you’re feeling at this moment – are your muscles tense? Are you feeling stressed? Is feeling tense and stressed the norm for you? Would you like to feel more relaxed?
A greater sense of relaxation is only a breath away. Working with the breath is an ancient and very accessible stress management and self-care technique. Taking a deep, cleansing breath lowers blood pressure and pulse and respiration rates. Additionally, it helps promote the release of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, into the bloodstream. Many benefits for something that takes hardly a minute!
To get the most of these benefits, diaphragmatic or belly breathing is key. To identify whether you are breathing high up in your chest or in your belly, place one hand on your chest and another hand on your stomach. As you breathe normally, notice which palm is moving. If you notice movement in both hands or more movement in the hand on your chest, you need to move your breath lower.
To breathe more from your abdomen, imagine that you have a balloon in your stomach and as you exhale, you are forcing all the air out of that balloon. Once you exhale all that air, your next breath will automatically be a diaphragmatic breath.
Do a few of these deep breaths. See if you can establish a pace that is deep, relaxed, and satisfying. How does it make you feel?
Establish a practice of incorporating diaphragmatic breathing into your day. Notice quiet times during your day, such as while you are waiting at a red light or have been put on hold during a call, to do this. And, the next time you notice you’re feeling stressed, use a few diaphragmatic breaths to change your body chemistry and invite feelings of calm and relaxation.
Diaphragmatic breathing – a simple way to friend yourself!
Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as you treat your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.
Do you hold yourself to a measure of happiness that you think you need to obtain and maintain? How is that working for you? Do you become angry and judgmental about yourself when you aren’t able to maintain the level of happiness you think you should have?
What if you no longer equated unhappiness and failure?
Maintaining a happiness high is unrealistic. And, as long as we judge our emotions as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, we are refusing to embrace all the aspects and parts of ourselves that make up our wholeness.
All feelings, including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, joy, grief – every feeling! – is impermanent. Every feeling is there so we can experience life to the fullest.
As humans, we want to embrace and enjoy those feelings that make us feel good and we tend to avoid those feelings that make us feel bad. We push away those bad feelings and try to escape them as soon as possible. But – as the saying goes, what we resist, persists.
I have found that if I stay with the feelings that make me uncomfortable, they transform and release. In much less time than I expect, they release their grip on me. If, however, I try to ignore those feelings, they hold a grip on me that I can’t shake. It is only by facing them that these feelings transform.
Imagine loving every feeling because it adds to the richness of your life. And imagine, loving yourself for your ability to have and experience all of your feelings.
Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.