Do you constantly criticize and belittle yourself? Are you your own worst enemy? How would you treat yourself differently if you treated yourself like a friend?
The advice to love yourself is a common self-help theme. This is of little help to most people, especially those who expect they should be exceptional and extraordinary in order to be worthy of self-love. While there are spiritual paths that can lead to self-love and self-acceptance, if someone has low self-esteem and doesn’t feel special, it’s hard for many people to love themselves.
An uncomplicated and easy self-care path to feeling better about yourself is to simply treat yourself as a friend. Those qualities that make being a good friend to others work as well for being a friend to yourself.
What are the qualities you value in friendship? Here are some qualities commonly recognized as key elements in friendship:
Acceptance. A true friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t try to force you to be something you are not. A friend accepts both our good qualities and our shortcomings. Can you extend this acceptance to yourself?
Loving. A true friend is loving, kind, and generous. A friend makes us feel not only liked but loved, cherished, and cared for by their words, their tone of voice, and how they treat us. Can you be more loving, kind, and generous to yourself?
Champion. A true friend will cheer you on. A friend uses encouragement rather than insults to motivate you. A friend is optimistic rather than pessimistic about what you can achieve. Can you motivate yourself with positive rather than critical words? Can you be optimistic about your efforts.
Honesty. A true friend will tell you the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. A friend will give you well-deserved compliments but will also call you to task when you are avoiding something or trying to disguise the truth. Can you be honest with yourself?
Support. A true friend will support you when you are going through challenges and will stand by you when you have setbacks. A friend can help put your challenges in perspective. A friend can help you see lessons that you are overlooking in the challenges that you are struggling with. And, a friend will know that sometimes all you need in time of trouble is a friend to listen to and support you. How can you offer yourself more support?
Forgiveness. A true friend is willing to forgive you your errors and mistakes. Can you forgive yourself?
One of the most important relationships you can have in your life is with yourself. Is it time to break old habits and invest in a healthy friendship with your internal self? Make the commitment to be a friend to yourself and increase your happiness by decreasing your self-criticism.