The self-lovestravaganza continues! <3
We're often told to "love yourself" (usually, after we have changed everything "wrong" about us, but that's beyond the scope of this post). Even when people are saying to "love yourself" with the best of intentions, it's always been unclear to me what is actually meant by this. Slightly more specific is "be your own best friend", but I feel like even this needs to be broken down further.
I've known about the concept "be your own best friend" for years now, and I've intermittently resolved to put it into practice. It sounds so appealing, but I can't say it's made any headway in changing my everyday life. What actual behaviors would fall under "being your own best friend" anyway? I take it to mean that, when you're feeling down, you'd think about what you might do for a friend in the same circumstances. For instance, you would probably not berate the person further. You'd probably listen to their concerns. Maybe you'd try to cheer them up by baking them cookies, taking them dancing, having them pet a llama, etc. If your best friend was bored or lonely, you'd probably try to make them laugh or tell them that you were there for them.
But for me, what's rewarding about many activities is the fact that I'm doing them with another person. When I'm with a friend, I'm often able to forget about my troubles for a while, because I'm focusing on interacting with the other person rather than on my own worries. Of course, "being your own best friend" isn't a substitute for having a best friend who's another person, but I can find myself comparing solitary activities to social ones. While I can enjoy some things done alone, I would usually enjoy them even more with good company.
It can be especially hard to be your own best friend in personal crisis situations, or times when you're stuck in repetitive behaviors. Your other-person friend, because they're not going through the same thing at the same time, may be better able to take decisive action or give objective feedback than you are. There's also the fact that not everyone has had the experience of a loving friend. A lot of people are socially isolated or are in dysfunctional relationships. Some people have few social needs, making it unclear how a "best friend" metaphor would even benefit them.
At least in my own experience, "being your own best friend" isn't just something that happens one day and then maintains itself over a lifetime. Instead, it seems to be a constant battle between my inner friend and my inner critic. Sometimes my friend wins and sometimes she doesn't. But if I criticize myself for being a bad self-friend, then that's a step even further back.
And the truth is, sometimes I don't know how to help a troubled friend, even as I feel empathy for them and deeply want to help. I want to be the kind of person who quickly jumps into action to help someone, be it myself or someone else. But too often, I find myself mired in analysis of the situation. How can my "inner friend" truly help me when she shares all of my limitations?
As usual, I'm ending on a question (meep!). I'd be interested to know what you all think about the "be your own best friend" concept. Has it been useful to you? Is there another way of conceptualizing it that I'm just missing?