Many years ago I understood it was important that I treat myself as my own best friend. I’ve been trying to put that in practice ever since.
One of the ongoing issues in my life has been that even though I am a strong, dependable person for others, I would fail at being somebody that I could depend on.
I would let myself down a lot. I would resolve to do things, and watch my resolve disappear in a puff of smoke as soon as it was time to use it. I would let the dishes pile up, the flat get messy, and the fridge go empty. I would allow myself to stay up way past a reasonable bedtime, knowing I would pay for it later. In short, I’ve always had trouble taking good care of myself.
The strange thing was that I would have no problem doing those things for other people. I didn’t mind doing the dishes for a friend if I ate at their place. I would clean up my flat if I had guests coming. If I told a friend I would do something for them, I would show up — and do it.
So, the skill was there. And one day — I remember the scene clearly — it clicked. I realized that if I looked at the pile of dishes in the sink not as yet another thing I had to deal with, but as a favour to a good friend, it became much easier to do them.
Of course, it’s not magic. It doesn’t work all the time. There are long stretches of time where I completely forget to treat myself like a good friend.
But all in all, I’m getting much better at it. It’s helped me take charge of my life, rather than letting my life happen to me.
It’s cliché, but living one’s life for others is not sustainable. As adults, we are our primary — and really only — carer. Even surrounded by healthy relationships, friends, spouses, family, we are alone in life as we are alone before death. We are the only 100% stable being in our universe.
So, when things start getting a little out of hand in my life, like they regularly do, I try to remember: as I can and want to care for others, I can care for myself, take myself by the hand and do what needs to be done.
It actually boils down to a question of simple decision — and action — even when it’s not easy.
Your life belongs to you, and you are its sole gardener. Nobody else will do it for you.
Be your own best friend. Don’t let yourself down anymore.