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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.

Trying to be a better friend to yourself

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How to be a Friend to Yourself

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    Zoey posted on 2017/05/01
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