It is funny how most of us are better at being a good friend to others than to ourselves. How can this be? Here are two reminders I would like to share:
1 – There is one person that will be with you for your whole life and that is… you.
2 – A guided compassion meditation often ends by asking you to open your heart to all living beings, reminding you that all living beings include… you.
It was at the start of learning about mindfulness meditation and committing to personal growth that I heard the above for the first time. I remember immediately feeling a sense of disturbance and unease. The realisation came that I had not been there for myself for many years. I realised that a lot of my self-talk was unkind and judgmental and that I would never say such things to a good friend! I also thought about my heart and acknowledged I had taken it for granted. A picture of my heart flashed up in my head. It looked hard and small, buried deep inside my chest. It was beating, doing its best. Like a trusted friend. It was as if I could see it patiently waiting for me to give it the attention it needed to become warm, expansive and open again.
For several years my New Year’s resolution was to say no more often. It never lasted long. The way I experienced myself was saying yes to this and yes to that, to the detriment of myself. I think now that I was unconsciously looking for a way to treat myself as a best friend. Eighteen months ago, with yoga and mindfulness practice, I remember realising something had changed. Most of my self-talk had become kind, and decisions I needed to make were backed up with best friend’s concern and advice. It felt fantastic. Although getting it 100% all the time might be far off, progress feels amazing.
A typical mindfulness example is to tell the story about what happens when you go on a plane: You are reminded to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. Even when it is your child sitting next to you. So – bring all the kindness you can to you. Say kind and uplifting things to yourself. You do not need to be everything to everyone. How much love do you have? As long as you fill up with love for you first, I believe you have more than enough love for yourself and everyone you want to share it with! You can’t pour from an empty cup. Start treating yourself as your best friend and notice how it allows you to live with more joy and freedom.
If you care to, take a moment now to become aware of the relationship you have with you. How do you usually speak to yourself? There is no need for judgment, just be kind. Love is the answer so bring love to you. Loving yourself is an ongoing process. I’d say start now and never stop. Be your best friend forever.