How to be your own best friend

Imagine you’re on a long distance train. It’s hot and overcrowded, you’re in a hurry to get to an important appointment, and you’re already pushing it time-wise. The person across from you is talking loudly and obnoxiously into their phone, and a few seats down, someone’s kid is crying—one of those really whiney ‘Mum I want it!’ type cries. Suddenly the train stops, and the driver announces there’s a mechanical problem. You might be here a while. You’re hungry, the stationary train with no airflow is heating up quickly, and you’re going to miss your appointment.

Now imagine this scene again, but this time, you’re with someone you’re deeply in love with.

How different is it?

What if that person was with you everywhere you went?

Wouldn’t life be more enjoyable?

Isolation and alone time

Over the past couple of years, many of us have spent more time alone than we’re used to. Your subjective experience of that largely depends on how you feel about yourself, and what kind of friend you are to you.

After all, nobody wants to spend extended amounts of time with someone they don’t like very much.

Falling deeply in love with yourself and being your own best friend will improve your life in a myriad of ways. You are the only person who you can never walk away from, and the only person you can absolutely guarantee will be with you until the end of your days.

In that light, you can see how investing time in this relationship is a worthwhile endeavour.

Friendship values

What are the non-negotiable values you look for in a best friend?

Loyalty? Trust? Kindness?

Someone who will be there for you in difficult times?

Someone who will never betray you or undermine you?

Someone who builds you up and supports you in all your endeavours?

We often speak to each other and treat ourselves in ways we would never do to others, or accept from them. Most of us are prone to shaming ourselves, criticising ourselves, and neglecting our own emotional needs, at least sometimes. It’s no wonder being alone for extended periods can be so hard.

It might be time to give this relationship a tune-up, or perhaps a complete overhaul.

Acts of kindness

I think of these acts as love notes from past me to future me.

I make my bed during the day, so that when I’m tired at night, I find a lovely neat bed to climb into. Thanks past Larissa!

Before bed, I stack the dishwasher and clean the kitchen. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s a great start to the day when I make my coffee in a clean tidy kitchen in the morning. Thank you past Larissa.

If I know I have a busy or stressful day coming up, I prepare good, healthy food in advance so that I can eat well on the run. I have homemade chicken soup in the freezer so that if I get sick, past Larissa will cook for me.

Think about what acts of love and service you value from others. How can you offer them to yourself?

Support and comfort

Having a strategy to soothe ourselves in stressful or upsetting moments is important. When we’re angry or distraught, it can be difficult to access the parts of ourselves that know how to do this, so it’s helpful to write your strategies down somewhere for easy access.

Include at least one strategy that can be used instantly for sudden upsets, and one for more chronic situations that need preventing or treating.

Breathing exercises and mantras are excellent tools that can be accessed on the spot. Find some that work for you and practice them in moments of minor stress, so they’re accessible for the big stress. You might combine this with a soothing movement, such as stroking your own arm, or placing a hand over your heart. Visualisations, meditations, and mindfulness exercises are handy and instantly available.

Keeping a good playlist is easy, and can be accompanied by singing and/or dancing. Writing, taking a bath, and going for a walk are also excellent stress-relieving activities.

Speaking kindly

You’d never belittle or shame your friends and expect them to stick around, so make sure you’re not doing this to yourself, either. If you catch yourself in the ‘not good enough’ speech, comparing yourselves to others, or beating yourself with unreasonable expectations, you might want to change your language.

Remind yourself that you’ve been through some stuff and you’re doing the best you can right now. Remind yourself of your strengths and wins. Give yourself an encouraging pep talk and promise to help you do better.

Take time to notice and acknowledge when you do something well, and when you overcome a challenge or improve yourself in some way. Think about how you’ve changed over the past 2/5/20 years and how far you’ve come, and give yourself a pat on the back for that.

Looking after yourself

Part of being your own best friend is caring for the vessel you’ve been blessed with. If you have a dog, you probably walk them and feed them a nutritionally correct diet, so check you’re doing at least that for yourself.

Give yourself good food that is delicious and enjoyable, and nourishes you. Get into the sunshine and move your body in ways that feel good, and gift yourself the best conditions for sleep. Take care of yourself with love and affection.

And when you really want that pizza, make sure you savour it with every inch of your being, and do not ruin it by shaming yourself for it afterwards. Sometimes, pizza is the perfect self-care.

Of course, a crucial element of any relationship is fun and enjoyment. Do you have solo activities and pastimes that you enjoy, that make you happy and leave you wondering where the time went?

Getting support

It’s normal to encounter difficulties in understanding what our actual needs even are, or how to re-establish what may have become a confusing or contentious relationship. If this is the case, you may wish to consider talking to a therapist who can help you explore what’s missing, what’s needed, or how to proceed with showing your best friend how much you love them. If you could do with some support on this journey, reach out for a free consultation call to find out how one of our qualified Gestalt therapists can help.