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The Importance of Friending Yourself

By Steve Austin | catching your breath

Dec 09

Friendship is an interesting dynamic. At her high school graduation, my father-in-law told my wife that if she could look back in a few years and count her true friends on one hand, using all five fingers, she should count herself truly blessed. Lindsey comments now on just how odd her father’s statement seemed at the time. But fast-forward about twenty years, and the old man was right.

It’s easy to think we have lots of friends, especially in a social media-driven culture, when you have a few thousand followers on Facebook, and even more on Twitter, but when it comes to real life, we mostly all have lots of acquaintances. Maybe they are acquaintances we are especially fond of for a season, but look at these quotes on the meaning of true friendship:

“A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or not to feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be who he really is.”
— Jim Morrison
“A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.”
— Len Wein
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
— Bernard Meltzer

 

The last one is my favorite. All sorts of things happen to us that shake and rattle the carton, threatening to crack us. But the true friend chooses to see you entirely, and love you because of, not in spite of, your imperfections and quirks.

Do you have a friend like this?

The ugly truth: chances are, less than 1% of your “friends” on social media are real friends, willing to weather the storms of life with you, sit with you when everything has crumbled, and help you rebuild when you are penniless and desperate.

These days, we are consumed with busyness, bombarded with noise, and the notifications on our smartphones are like a dripping faucet in a silent house, convincing us that the only way to win is to play the comparison game with everyone else. Unfortunately, doing so ensures that everyone loses. We are miserable and exhausted. And despite the fact that 68% of Americans now use Facebook – and 88% of those 18-29 use any and all forms of social media – we are still lonely.

Good news: there is one person who travels with you through every hill and valley, stays with you in the dark night of the soul, and knows your every secret sin and silent hope. That person stares back at you in the mirror each morning, begging you to be his or her true friend.

You may wonder why it is important to believe in yourself. The simple answer is that no one else will. Your spouse and your family will believe in you to a certain extent. However, when times get tough, family support tends to wane. It’s not that they don’t love and care about you. It’s just they stopped believing in you.

While this doesn’t always happen, it happens often enough to cause conflict. An example is when a spouse or parents initially give you support on a new venture. When the venture doesn’t work out as they believe it should, they start to question whether you should continue with it. If your belief starts to weaken, you may take on their way of thinking.

The reason beliefs start to weaken is due to a fear of the unknown. When you start a new venture, everyone is excited for you and will tell you to give it your best shot. However, when the prospects of the business become murkier, that excitement turns to fear.

The problem is the path towards success for these ventures is not a straight line up. Having some bumps in the road is normal. In fact, this is what defines the success of the enterprise, and the people who are taking risks. It should be welcomed and not feared.

The fear of the unknown may start to creep into your psyche. It’s easier to listen to your family and friends tell you to dissolve your venture because it is failing. They will continue down this negative path until you decide to stop. If you do choose to give up on your business, they will tell you that it wasn’t meant to be and that starting a business is difficult.

That time is precisely the moment that you shouldn’t stop. People never get ahead by quitting. If you believe in yourself, you would have had the conviction to see it through. You would have the appropriate guidance to give you strength to surge ahead. You could have done all of it while telling your family and friends to have some faith. A firm belief in yourself would give you the courage to stand up to them.

Whatever venture you decide to pursue, know that only by continuing will you make it work. Think of Thomas Edison’s contribution to the lightbulb. While he did not invent the lightbulb (contrary to popular belief), he made ones that lasted longer. Imagine if he decided to quit after he ran into a few stumbling blocks early on.

You are the only constant throughout your whole life. Are you going to be a friend or foe? A true friend, or just an acquaintance? Are you going to show yourself compassion when life tries to break you, and celebrate every small victory? Call me crazy, but the greatest gift you can offer yourself is the gift of true friendship.

Will you join me today in friending yourself? Here are the requirements to be a true friend to yourself:

  1. Speak to yourself with kindness in all situations.

  2. Listen to your own needs and desires.

  3. Don’t read your own press – good or bad.

  4. Be patient with yourself as you recover from all that has wounded you.

  5. Do whatever you can to care for yourself.

Only to the extent that you are willing to treat yourself with kindness and respect, will you be able to truly become a friend to others. Go ahead, friend yourself today.

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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

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