Friendship is an important and enjoyable aspect of life. It brings new experiences and opportunities to relate to others, but have you ever considered developing a friendship with yourself?
In many instances, we see ourselves only in relation to another person or group. We work to present a version of our identity that we think will be accepted and appreciated by those close to us. We consider what our friends expect from us and what it truly means to be a good friend, and oftentimes, we model our actions and intentions based on internalized answers to these questions. Although this process of adaptation can benefit interpersonal relationships, it is important that they do not obscure each person’s true identity.
What do you look for in a friend?
Take a moment to think about all the qualities that you appreciate in a friend, reflecting on the words, actions, preferences, activities, etc. that you look for in this type of relationship. Next, if you consider your current friendships, you may find that no single person can live up to all of these internal expectations. Instead of feeling dismayed at this realization, take time to consider how you can fulfill your own inner hopes and preferences without placing this task on someone else. By creating a space wherein you can truthfully get to know yourself, you can also remove any external pressures that may have been placed onto your friends to fulfill this unacknowledged part of your inner world.
Within the context of the pandemic, this process of self-discovery may hold greater relevance due to social distancing practices and increased time spent away from other people. By using this time to reflect on your individual thoughts, beliefs, goals, hopes, fears, preferences, etc., you start to foster a relationship with yourself that can open up many new opportunities for self-growth. To begin this process, start small by simply writing down all of the things that you enjoy doing in life, focusing more specifically on what an ideal day would look like. Then, consider which of those things are realistic within the context of society as well as the pandemic safety measures. Finally, create a plan for yourself to go and make that day a reality.
Being a better friend to yourself
I have recently started to consider how I can become a better friend to myself, feeling inspired to take initiative and make changes in my life that reflect a truer version of my identity. Instead of only waiting on other people to do the things that I enjoy, I can give myself the freedom to live authentically as an act of self-care. For example, I now make time in my day to go on walks by the beach, get coffee from my favorite local spots, listen to my favorite music, paint, exercise, etc., and by doing so, I have gained a sense of personal empowerment that has allowed me to better enjoy my life.
While incorporating more of your favorite activities into your life, it is also important to consider your mental and emotional needs. For example, the practice of self-compassion may appear simple on its surface, but meaningful implementation often requires a more devoted effort in day-to-day life. In many situations, we turn to others to provide this form of care and understanding, but when learning how to be your own best friend, it is important to understand how you can give this to yourself as well. Also, by giving yourself the time and space to honestly express your inner thoughts and emotions, you can gain greater insight into your own needs and areas for improvement. This form of expression can take many forms, such as writing in a daily journal, creating an art piece, or talking through your feelings out loud in a private space.
By becoming a better friend to yourself, you create an internal dynamic that allows for greater self-understanding and reflection. This relationship with yourself can also shed light on your current friendships. It can create a foundation for more honest self-expression and fulfillment in your life. You are the only one who has access to your true inner world, and with such valuable information, there is great potential to be your own best friend.
Hey I’m Delaney! I’m a junior at UCLA studying Psychology, and I am extremely passionate about raising awareness for the importance of mental health. I believe that fostering a community of mutual support can profoundly help to reduce stigma and encourage daily focus on mental well-being.