How about this for a New Year’s resolution - to become your own best friend?
The way we treat ourselves is the key to our inner happiness – from which everything else flows.
What would it mean to be your own best friend?
It would mean encouraging and caring for ourselves as we would for a close friend.
Sounds easy in theory, but developing a more caring attitude towards ourselves can actually be quite challenging because we often treat ourselves as our own worst enemy; in a way that we would not dare to treat others – particularly our close friends, and we regularly find ourselves at the mercy of our ‘inner critic’.
Many of us will have developed this engrained behaviour in childhood – those times when we took it very personally when our parents didn't give us the love and approval we needed - we thought that there was something wrong with us.
When we listen to our inner critic we hear a harsh voice saying things like: 'I’m so stupid' or 'I can’t do it', 'I’m such a failure - what will people think of me?' or 'Others have what it takes but not me' etc.' When we’re in the grip of our inner critic we often feel low, sad and depressed.
Would you say these things to a friend?
When I say to clients, imagine if you were to say such things to a friend. They would reply, “Oh no, I would never do that, they would be upset.”
Of course, they would be upset! Nobody wants to be shouted at, treated harshly or pushed away. And yet we do it all the time to ourselves, often unconsciously. And it is from this place that our anxiety and stress flows; indeed it’s what most gets in the way of us living a healthier, happier and fulfilled life.
Becoming aware of your inner critic
The key is to become aware of your inner critic and how you speak to yourself.
Our inner critic can be very judgemental and harsh, and yet its intention is positive and pure. It wants the best for us. Often it wants to protect us from making a mistake, not succeeding or from other people’s judgements.
So see whether you can make an effort to listen to the tone of voice, the attitude you have towards yourself and what you habitually say. Listen carefully. Notice when your inner critic puts you down or speaks harshly. Listen first - don’t push against it to make it stop (it only shouts louder), instead work at changing the tone of voice of your inner critic to one that kind, reassuring and encouraging – the very kind and caring attitude you bring when you talk to a best friend.
It’s like a child crying for attention and shouting or crying louder when it doesn’t get what it needs. As soon as the parent turns towards the child and picks it up, it almost always stops crying.
Become your own best friend. My top tips on how to value and appreciate yourself:
- Check in with yourself every morning and ask yourself how you are and what you most need from yourself for the day ahead. Are you feeling tired? Maybe you need to take it easier, plan a quiet evening at home or talk to a dear friend.
- Take regular breaks throughout the day including a lunch break – even if you think you don’t have time for that (it probably isn't really true and a break will do you more good than harm!)
- Start meditating for 20 minutes every day to create some me-time and space for reflection (try my Guided mediation)
- Write down three things you appreciate about yourself, others and life every day (either at the beginning of the day looking back or at the end of the day)
- Check how much you are sleeping your sleep - rearrange your daily routine to sleep more and notice the difference
- Exercise regularly e.g. once a week – Yoga, Pilates, walking or cycling to work, a stroll at lunch time, swimming etc.
- Treat yourself - a lovely bunch of flowers or a massage, cook a nice meal to enjoy on your own or with a friend, take a long bath…choose an activity that replenishes you (over mindlessly surfacing social media or the Internet).
Add your own supportive things to the list – the very things that help you to feel encouraged and uplifted, loved and cared for by yourself. And most importantly, notice the affect is has on you!
The way we treat ourselves is the key to our own inner happiness and everything else flows from there.
If you need a little help, let me know and we can arrange a free 30-minute taster session in Victoria Park, via phone or Skype. Just call or email me.
May your New Year be happy, healthy and fulfilled!