Originally published in Connect Magazine, December/January edition 2015/16
With the often hectic pace of modern life, and our collective struggle to make sense of the escalating violence and environmental vandalism we witness daily in our news feeds, it is easy to forget that the one person who really needs our love, support and unconditional friendship the most, is our self. When we are emotionally overwrought, physically exhausted and mentally confounded we are unable to be a supportive and loving friend to anyone else. In the name of friendship, we owe it to ourselves and others to be our own best friend.
It sounds strange doesn’t is? Be your own best friend! How can we go about doing that? What methods do we use? It calls the whole notion of friendship into question, what does it mean to be a best friend anyway?
If we think of friendship as a special bond between people, one which allows us to respond to the hopes, needs and fears of another human being, that makes us care deeply about their situation and their feelings, their health and finances, family, home and pets we begin to see how this could be applied to ourselves. Of course we care about these things in our own lives, but do we attend to caring for our own self with as much devotion and attention as we give to our friend?
Consider your daily routine, is there time set aside for you to be alone in peace, to meditate, do yoga, walk on the beach or through the trees? Do you prioritise your personal health and creative space? How about getting enough sleep – anybody?
Creating a routine that honours our specific personal needs is far from being a selfish act, it is necessary for the mental and physical health that is required in order to be a good friend to anyone. The ways we interact with others are often influenced by our unconscious mental and emotional conditioning, and when we are reacting unconsciously we can hurt our friends and our relationships with them. Taking time alone to just be yourself, getting to know yourself deep down, who you are as a being, as a person will enable you to participate in your relationships with others from a place of grounded authenticity. If we are honest with ourselves, we will find that we have many less than desirable traits and behaviours, for these we can seek the support of therapists, healers and counsellors in order to become the best possible version of ourselves.
Being a best friend is a responsibility and personal commitment to excellence in relating to and supporting another human being – or other animal. When we are less than our best we can inadvertently fuel emotional and mental conflict in these close relationships, which may be difficult to have open communication about. Rather than allow ourselves to continue adding to the suffering in the world, we need to take responsibility for our part to play in any given situation, and for doing what ever it takes to lift our game. With an attitude of self-responsibility and willingness to seek support for what ever part of us that suffers and thus causes more suffering, we become a good friend to ourself and therefore a better friend to others.
When we are sharing our joys and sorrows, giving and receiving the love and support of our friends we are reminded of the intrinsic goodness of the human heart. The encouragement of those we care about gets us through some of the biggest challenges in our lives. Our capacity for generosity and positive regard towards others is based in our relationship with our selves. If we have made a choice to love, honour and respect ourself and our own needs, we will be empowered in our loving support and respectful interactions with those who are already, or will one day be our good friends.
The time it takes to become your own best friend will benefit all the other best friends you will ever have.