How to be a good friend – to yourself

How to develop self love and become your own best friend

It is easy to treat others with respect and kindness while forgetting to be as considerate to yourself. Patience Gumbo-Chimbetete shows you how to be a good friend – yourself.

We often focus on building relationships with others and forget ourselves. We overlook an essential element of life – being friends with ourselves. But, this is crucial if we are to have meaningful relationships with others.

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What does being a friend to yourself mean? It is loving, supporting and encouraging yourself like you would a loved one. “It means being content, confident and positive within your own space without seeking external gratification,” says Cynthia Lebelo, a third-year psychology student at Wits University. Here are some things you can do to nurture friendship with self:

1. Enjoy time alone – If you’re like me, you probably try to stay in touch with friends and loved ones either electronically or through regular hang-outs. But, how many times do you intentionally make time to listen to your thoughts and just be? This can be hard because we are always surrounded by people – be it colleagues, social media or family members. But, you need time alone to get in touch with your inner being and get to know yourself better. Make time by taking a walk during your lunch break or just sitting in a secluded area, for example. At the same time, if you live alone, you need to use this to your advantage.

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2. Trust yourself – “When someone you care about is in need, don’t you naturally respond by showing them love and kindness?” asks Nisha. At the same time, if your loved ones are not available and you desperately need advice, can you rely on your own ideas? Are you able to turn to yourself in a crisis? “No one is more qualified to make decisions in the matters of your life than you. Being decisive, rather than relying on others, allows you to take responsibility for the outcomes,” advises Kyle Young, a member of the academic development team at The South African College of Applied Psychology. Kyle says you will then be able to claim full credit for your successes and treat each failure as a learning experience.

3. Embrace forgiveness – We are not perfect. This means you will make mistakes or fall short in one or more areas of your life. Because of this, it is easy to resent or hate yourself. So, how can you be friends with a self that you resent and are not satisfied with? “Another definition of mistakes is experience because you can learn from them, so it is important to forgive yourself,” advises Nisha. She adds that you must understand that it is your flaws and eccentricities that make you unique. Kyle agrees, adding that by opening yourself up to experience you recognise and acknowledge your own emotions, both positive and negative. “In so doing, you recognise that you’re a fluid individual who is in a state of constant change, which is a part of your transition towards your ideal self, “he says.