Good friends don’t knock you down, they build you up. They give us advice when we need it most – with kindness, firmness and tact. But sometimes that friend isn’t there, and we have to rely on ourselves for advice. Not so easy. So often we’re full of self-doubt and criticism. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to be your own best friend.
Re-visit the classic pros and cons list.
Remember those lists you used to make with your friends about boys as a teenager? Use them now to remind yourself that there’s always two sides to every tricky situation. Don’t just think about this in your head. It’s really important to actually write this stuff down on a piece of paper. Divide a piece of paper in two and write down everything in favour and against a particular decision. Writing things down conquers messy thoughts and forces you to take a more balanced approach – just as you would if you were explaining something to a friend.
Pick yourself up after a fall
What would you do to help a friend when something went wrong for them? You’d commiserate with them and give them a hug. Then you’d start building their confidence up again. So why is it that we’re so mean to ourselves when something doesn’t go to plan? More often than not, we’ll blame ourselves. Every little failure you chalk up against yourself will weaken your confidence. Stop it now, and be nice to yourself. If you made a mistake don’t dwell on it. Learn from it and move forward. And if you have a run of bad luck, remember that you’re not responsible for everything. Things hurt, but remind yourself that you’re strong, adaptable and flexible.
Be your own biggest cheerleader
What would you tell a friend suffering from self-doubt? You’d tell them they can do it. You wouldn’t say, yup you’ve never done this before and you’re bound to be crap. Well, at least I hope you wouldn’t. Yet, this is what so many of us think inside our own heads every single day. These unhelpful thought patterns have great sticking power and are hard to shift. Interrupt that internal monologue of doubt by talking out loud. Have a few little mantras ready for tricky situations. You can do this, Lizzie is my favourite, and I say it to myself when I feel overwhelmed. And if things don’t go to plan, then tell yourself that you gave it your best shot.
Stage an intervention on yourself
It’s easy to get stuck in little ruts of unhelpful behaviour like going to bed too late or looking at your phone too much. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out what we’re doing wrong for us to want to make a change. But you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you what to do – make a change right now. It’s easier not to act, but sometimes you have to be firm with yourself. Start taking the advice you know you need – whether it’s a digital detox, asking for help on a project or cutting down on your drinking.
Don’t have someone else to confide in? Write things down. It’s funny how as soon you physically write something down, it feels more manageable. It’s like talking about a bad dream, and realising half way through how ridiculous it was. Keep a simple diary. It doesn’t need to be an essay. Jot down interesting things that you can enjoy looking back on. Or, if that’s not your thing try doing a daily brain dump in a notebook. Write down everything that’s niggling at you, then screw it up and chuck it away. It’s every bit as cathartic as a good chat with a friend.
Are you good at being nice to yourself? I’d love to hear your favourite ways to be your own best friend.