How to be your own best friend if you’re constantly going back and forth between self-loathing and self-love?
Is it even possible to live peacefully and get along with yourself as you would with your best friend?
Read on for some practical tips to accept and love yourself, plus a helpful role playing exercise used in cognitive therapy!
Table of Contents
- 1 How to be your own best friend: Introduction
- 2 Should we try to admire ourselves at all costs? The risks of autophilia
- 3 Is it essential to love yourself? Do we really have to love ourselves?
- 4 Simply be your own best friend
- 5 Learning about self-friendship
- 6 How to be your own best friend: Conclusion
How to be your own best friend: Introduction
Every day we live with our “self.” This is not only our inner voice, our story with our fears, our view of the world, and our sufferings, but also our joys and our hope.
However, it is often not easy to live with our “inner self” and simultaneously try to improve our self-esteem.
In this article, we will discover how to be your own best friend and how to learn to live peacefully with yourself.
Should we try to admire ourselves at all costs? The risks of autophilia
Frequently, people who suffer from self-esteem problems make the same mistake: they think that we are worthy only when we are admirable.
Self-love or autophilia is a tricky concept to put into practice. Having self-esteem problems can act as a hindrance to loving yourself adequately.
Therefore, strategies may vary depending on the level of self-esteem:
- Those who have fragile high self-esteem will seek this admiration from others. They will make efforts to self-promote and put themselves forward, but also, they will convince themselves that they are admirable.
- Those with low self-esteem merely fantasize about it: they dream of success and glory, but their lack of effort and risk-taking keeps them away from it.
Whether it is acted upon, dreamed of, or admired, this quest is a dead end for self-esteem.
It will weaken self-esteem by making it “conditional” and highly dependent on external situations that are difficult to control.
Therefore, it is recommended that you try to value yourself and not admire yourself.
Difference between esteem and admiration
The difference between esteem and admiration can be defined as follows:
- we admire what is largely superior to us
- we esteem what is only slightly better than us, representing “a kind of positive equality.”
This is a perfect basis for the definition of daily goals everyone can try to reach:
To value ourselves, we must do a little better than usual.
It is useless to look for glorious action or brilliant success because it would be too difficult. Consequently, it would be a too good pretext to give up taking action.
Is it essential to love yourself? Do we really have to love ourselves?
As far as self-esteem is concerned, most research has long insisted on the need to love yourself in order to value yourself. However, this may be a lousy idea to teach others.
Not only is the feeling of love difficult to command, but love is also based on a complex mixture of physical attraction, a need for fusion and closeness, and an expectation of exclusivity.
These seem incompatible with the peaceful relationship with our ego that we expect from good self-esteem.
If this were the case, we would be closer to narcissism, defined as an excessive love of oneself.
But then, why would you want to love yourself? Are there no other possible loving relationships with yourself?
When we observe the functioning of people with good self-esteem, it seems that the nature of the link they maintain with their intimate self is rather friendly.
Therefore, it would seem that good self-esteem is ultimately closer to friendship than love.
Only friendship manages to combine:
- Demands (e.g., not letting friends do just anything)
- Benevolence (we do not judge our friends, but we want to help them)
- Presence (we are attentive and available to them)
- And tolerance (we accept their faults and defects).
Simply be your own best friend
Esteem and affection are two terms that characterize friendship. A friend is a person for whom we feel both of these feelings.
In addition, the friendship relationship likely represents an excellent possible model for a relationship with ourselves.
How to be your own best friend: The best friend exercise
A classic of cognitive therapy is the “best friend” exercise: the therapist asks the patient to write down his negative thoughts when in a difficult situation.
When I failed at some task, I told myself, “You really suck, forget it, you’ll never make it.”
The therapist then asks if the patient would have said that to their best friend, who was facing the same situation. Naturally, the patient answered “no.”
Indeed, the patient knows that this vocabulary would be wrong, unfair, and ineffective.
The next part of the exercise would ask the patient to modify the language as if the patient were to say it to their friend:
“What would you say to your friend if they faced the same problem?”
As a result, the message will change: from the same facts, its tone is softer and more supportive:
“Well, yes, it’s hard, and you didn’t make it. These things happen. But if you continue to do the work, you should be able to do it little by little.”
To help people improve their mood and self-esteem, they are gradually encouraged to use this type of self-talk.
It is recommended to do regular role plays to help establish this new habit of more supportive self-talk:
- The therapist plays the part of the patient who is overly self-critical.
- The actual patient must play the role of a supporting friend, who must provide comfort without lying.
This type of exercise encourages the patient to use desirable verbalizations:
- Do not celebrate yourself: “But no, you’re great! It’s the others who suck!”
- Don’t deny the problem either: “It’s all right, we don’t care,” but approach it calmly: “Ok, ok, there is a problem.”
- Do not generalize: “Is it as serious and definitive as your disappointment leads you to believe?”
- Underline solutions: “You are not the first to have these problems. There must be ways to solve them.”
Learning about self-friendship
Some people can establish this friendly relationship with themselves quite easily. Indeed, they take care of themselves, and they do not reprimand themselves when they are disappointed.
Moreover, they do not “disappoint” themselves: they calmly acknowledge their failures and learn from them.
But this type of relationship must be learned, especially if it has not been given to us by our past and our education.
Learning to move from demanding, shady and conditional relationships with oneself to more serene ones is possible.
How to be your own best friend: Conclusion
The difference between esteem and admiration is the following: admiration for what is far superior to us and esteem for what is only slightly superior to us.
Good self-esteem is closer to friendship than it is to love. Only friendship manages to combine demands, presence, benevolence, and tolerance.
The “best friend” exercise is a classic in cognitive therapy and is a real practical help to be your own best friend:
- The therapist suggests that the patients write down their negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs when in a difficult situation.
- Then he asks if they would have said that to their best friend, faced with the same problem.
- The idea of this exercise is to gradually encourage the patients to have recourse to this type of inner speech towards themselves.
And finally, you must learn to love your body image and to respect and love yourself to the fullest. Of course, this can take time, like all self-esteem training.