B1 Intermediate UK 2732 Folder Collection
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Trying to be a better friend to yourself
sounds like an odd idea.
initially
Because we naturally imagine a friend
as someone else,
not as a part of our own mind.
But there is value in the concept
because of the extent to which we know how
to treat our own friends,
with the sympathy and imagination
we seldom apply,
to ourselves
If a friend is in trouble
our first instinct is rarely to tell them
that they are fundamentally
a sh*thead and a failure
If a friend complains that their partner
isn't very warm to them,
we don't tell them they're getting what they deserve
we try to re-assure them that they're essentially likeable
and that it's worth investigating
what might be done.
In friendship
we know instinctively
how to deploy strategies of wisdom and consolation
that we stubbornly refuse to apply
to ourselves.
There are some key moves
a good friend would typically make
which can provide a model
for what we should, ideally
be doing with ourselves, in our own heads.
Firstly, a good friend likes you pretty much as you already are
any suggestion they make or
ambition they have about how you could change
builds on a background of acceptance.
When they propose that you might try a different tack
it's not an ultimatum or a threat
they're not saying that you have to change or be abandoned
a friend insists
we're good enough, already.
but they want to join forces with us
to solve a challenge they feel
we would properly benefit, from overcoming.
Without being flattering,
good friends also constantly keep in mind
certain things, we're getting right!
They don't think anything wrong (background cheering)
with the odd compliment (background cheering)
and emphasis on our strengths. (background cheering)
It's quietly galling
how easily we can lose sight of
all our own good points,
when troubles strike.
A friend doesn't fall into this trap.
They can acknowledge the difficulties
while still holding on to a memory
of our virtues.
The good friend is compassionate;
when we fail, as we will
they are understanding
and generous around our mishaps.
Our folly, doesn't exclude them from the circle of their love.
The good friend definitely conveys
that to err, fail and screw up
is just what we humans do.
We all emerge from childhood
with various biases in our character
which evolved to help us cope with our
necessarily imperfect parents
and these acquired habits of mind
will reliably let us down in adult life.
But, we're not to be blamed because
we didn't deliberately set out to be like this.
We didn't realistically, have a lot of better options
We're indelibly required
to make big decisions
before we ever really understand what's at stake
or how our choices will play out.
We steering blind in all our large moves around love
and work.
We opt for a move to a different city
but we can't possibly know whether we're going to flourish there
We have to select a career path when we're still young
and we don't know what our latent needs will be
in long term relationships
We have to make a commitment to another person
before we understand what it will be like
to tie our lives, so deeply to theirs'
The good friend knows
that failures are not in fact, rare
They bring as a starting point
their own and humanity's vivid experience of messing up
into play
as key points of reference.
They're continually telling us
that our specific case, might be unique
but that the general structure, is common.
People, don't just sometimes fail
Everyone fails,
only, we don't know about it
It's ironic, yet essentially hopeful
that we usually know quite well
how to be a better friend
to near strangers
than we know how to be, to ourselves.
The hopefulness lies in the fact that we do
actually already possess
the relevant skills of friendship.
It's just, we haven't as yet directed them
to the person, who probably
needs the most
namely,
of course
ourselves.
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How to be a Friend to Yourself

2732 Folder Collection
Zoey published on May 1, 2017
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