What kind of friend are you?
It’s taken me a long time in life to realize that there are different kinds of friends in this world. Some are the kind who are good listeners, others are the kind who you go to for a good laugh.
There are the kind who are always up to do things, and then there are the kind who are totally fine with just sitting on a park bench, watching the boats sail in the harbor.
You may have a friend or two with whom you can talk for hours, jumping from topic to topic, not caring what time it is or where this will all end up.
Some friends are great at giving advice, others are great at being there when the mistakes happen.
If you’re lucky, you might have the kind of friend who will tell you the truth about yourself, hold the mirror up to you and show you how you are with love, compassion, and honesty.
I imagine that if you reflected on your friendships, you might notice how you play a few or all of these roles in your friendships as well.
The question is, though, what kind of friend are you to yourself?
Thoughts in our heads.
Have you ever noticed the way that you talk to yourself?
I don’t mean in the sense of talking out loud to yourself (although, I’ve definitely done that in the car).
I mean, have you ever noticed the voices that you hear in your head when you’re having a bad day or when you’re feeling down?
What are they like?
Are they kind?
Do they pick you up when you’re down?
If you find that those voices tend to be negative in nature, then you are not alone.
The question is, who is talking to whom?
The inner dialogue.
I don’t claim to understand the answer to that question, but what I do understand is the phenomenon.
When I’m training for the Pan Mass Challenge, a ride to raise money for Dana Farber and cancer research, I spend more time on my bike than I’m used to. (If you want to support my ride, you can do so here. Help push back against cancer.)
The longer the ride, the more likely this dialogue will begin to heat up and the negativity will begin.
You ask: What kind of thoughts?
(That’s pretty nosey of you to ask, but since we’re friends, I’ll tell you.)
After about two hours or so into my ride, and after struggling with the many hills near our house, this voice comes into my head like some drunk shouting at a bar.
“You suck at this! You should give up!”
It’s usually at this moment that I slow down a little and begin to wonder how much of an imposition it would be to ask my wife to come out here and pick me up.
Who is that voice?
I have no idea. I’m not a big fan, but he’s at least consistent.
That voice hounded me every summer for a few years, and I endured it bitterly until one day I realized something weird.
He was me.
Be your own best friend.
Years ago, I was at a workshop for acting, and we were talking about self-doubt.
Someone in the class shared that he had recently made the realization that, if he were out to dinner with a friend who suddenly started talking to him the way the voices in his head talk, he would probably walk out.
Right? Most of us wouldn’t put up with that kind of talk from a stranger, never mind a friend.
Here’s the thing. What if we made the choice to make friends with ourselves?
How, you ask?
It’s simple (but not easy).
What if you were willing to accept all of you?
What if you made friends with every part of yourself, and brought love and compassion to those parts that feel deficient and less than?
Talk to yourself just like you would to a friend who was struggling.
Accepting all of you.
When you find yourself in a dialogue with your mind, wishing that you were different, better, smarter, stronger, etc… lean into compassion.
You’re doing a great job.
This is your first time being you, and you’re doing it better than anyone else could.
Be the kind of friend to yourself that you’d want to have.
Show up with an open heart and accept every part of yourself (even the parts that you think are unacceptable).
The result will be a softer relationship with yourself, and more self-confidence.
No matter what you’re struggling to accomplish, no matter who you are, no matter what you’re failing at, you’re enough.
You’re more than enough for this life.
You have value.