Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 3:15 pm | Fair 72º


Tracy Shawn: How to Be Your Own Best Friend

It’s important to be a good friend to others, yet it’s also just as imperative (sometimes even more so) to be your own best friend.

Of course, it’s important to be a good friend to others, yet it’s also just as imperative (sometimes even more so) to be your own best friend.

In order to live a happier, more authentic life, it helps to practice respect, compassion and trust toward your own true self just as you would to a good friend. Yet these seemingly simple concepts are sometimes difficult to execute. Below are three reminders that can help you become an even better friend to that one person in your life who is constantly — and I do mean constantly — in it.

» 1. Maintain Self-Respect (And Be True to Thyself): Respecting yourself doesn’t just mean making choices that protect your health and psychological well-being such as maintaining a reasonably healthy diet and keeping good company; it also means that you acknowledge who you really are. For example, if one of your greatest passions is art, make sure to “etch” out the time in which to enjoy it. If you’re not a professional artist, you can still take classes, visit museums and even practice some quick sketching when the muse beckons.

Likewise, acknowledge what doesn’t make you happy. If you get overwhelmed by being around a lot of people for extended periods of time, don’t judge yourself, but rather appreciate this part of who you are and make sure to schedule time to be alone. Remember that respecting yourself means that you take care of both your physical health — and your emotional happiness.

» 2. Practice Self-Compassion: If one of your friends came to you crying about how devastated she felt about being fired from her job, you wouldn’t push her into a deeper depression by listing all the reasons she might have brought it upon herself and how difficult it will be to find another position. Yet, too many people would engage in this self-loathing talk if it happened in their own lives. Remember, then, to recognize the negative, self-destructive ways in which you “speak” to yourself, and then consciously engage in the kind of positive, constructive self-talk that can help move you forward. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself what compassionate things you’d say to your dearest friend if she needed to feel motivated and understood.

» 3. Learn How to Trust Yourself: Experts agree that the most valued attribute of what constitutes a true friend is trust. We trust that our most beloved friends will be there in times of crisis, as well as rejoice with us in times of triumph. We trust that they wish the best for us — as we wish the best for them. We trust that they will like us, even with all our imperfections, as we continue to like them.

In order to learn how to trust yourself more, you must treat yourself as you would your truest friends. When facing a crisis, make sure to take care of yourself by heeding the same advice, as well as seeking help from the same resources you’d recommend to others. When something wonderful happens, make sure to acknowledge your hard work and celebrate your achievements. Remember, too, to make sure that you show yourself how you continue to wish the best for yourself by persisting to take steps in which to attain your goals.

And last, but certainly not least, remember to accept yourself! Just like your dearest friends, you’ll continue to make mistakes, exhibit annoying quirks and struggle with issues. And just as you steadfastly stand by the side of your truest friends, you can also learn to truly trust and like yourself as the very best friend who will help you lead a more joyful and meaningful life.

— Tracy Shawn, M.A., lives and writes on the Central Coast of California. Her award-winning debut novel, The Grace of Crows, is about how an anxiety-ridden woman finds happiness through the most unexpected of ways — and characters. Dubbed a “stunning debut novel” by top 50 Hall of Fame reviewer Grady Harp, The Grace of Crows has also been hailed as an accurate portrayal of generalized anxiety disorder and a healing opportunity to the readers. Click here for more information about Shawn, or click here to visit her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter: @TracyShawn. The opinions expressed are her own.

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