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May 24, 2023

When You Are Your Own Friend

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Picture this example with me for a second. Let’s say that you got in a big fight with a family member, and it was your fault. Maybe it involved a miscommunication where you let someone down and got defensive about it, leading to a major disagreement. After all, we are human and not perfect, these things certainly happen. 

In your own head, you might get really critical. You get upset with yourself that you didn’t have more emotional control. You deride yourself for not having more empathy and questioning if you have the capacity to care for others. You go down really negative spirals of thought patterns that all point to how awful of a person you are.

Now let’s look at this example from a slightly different angle. Instead of you being the person involved in the fight that made a few mistakes, you’re a good friend of that person. After they tell you about the event and the circumstances around it, what would you say to them?

It wouldn’t have anything to do with how awful of a person they are… It’d be much more encouraging and supportive. You’d remind them that this happened only one time and in the long run it’s not a big deal. You’d highlight their best qualities and how this was all an isolated incident. 

Now here’s the important question, and the point I’m trying to make with all of this - What if you treated yourself like you are your own friend more often? Giving yourself grace and seeing in yourself all of the things that everyone else sees in you.

We are so quick to find the goodness and humanity in others and the flaws within ourselves. But if we started to take a more third-party approach to the way we relate with the things we’re going through in our own lives, we’ll be able to support ourselves in ways that help us be at our very best.

I was talking to one of my coaches about this recently and he asked “What would Brian the coach say to Brian the client right now?” This simple question invoked this very process and it helped me reframe feelings of disappointment into something more constructive, reminding me that I should be proud of the way I’m doing my best and at peace with the fact that I can’t influence the things that are out of my control.

So the next time you catch yourself criticizing or going through self-deprecating thoughts, ask yourself this question - “What would I tell myself if I were my own friend?”

Sometimes you’re so deep in the woods that you can’t see the trees, and this just might pull you far enough out of your own life to see it.

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