Lately I've been thinking about what it means to really love yourself. I've come to the conclusion that it ultimately means you are your very own best friend. You enjoy spending time with yourself, you appreciate the very characteristic attributes about yourself and you trust your own decisions.
It's pretty powerful stuff this being your own best friend business. Think about it: you can confidently spend time alone and really savor it. You can take yourself for a walk and focus on what is around you, rather than what is worrying you in your external world. Dealing with family and friend issues is far easier when you are sure in yourself.
I didn't use to feel this way; rather, I was quite hard on myself and generally looked at situations glass-half-empty. For some time my mother had been telling me that you can talk to yourself to change your perception and outlook on things and how you view yourself. Of course, at first I didn't want to hear it. That advice just felt too patronizing. Eventually though, with time, my Mum's advice began to make sense, so I started practicing it. I even realized that when given unsolicited advice I didn't have to feel patronized, I could just think of it as advice to hear. What a difference in my life that made! (Imagine having the ability not to take critique personally!)
For instance I'd have a bad (for lack of being able to use the word I want) day, but tell myself, just think of the positive: "I get to go to a home I love and see my crazy kitten." It helped, so I kept on doing it. I used the advice in more intense situations like when I was facing financial hardship upon making a career change. I repeated over and over in my head "short term pain for long term gain" and more importantly, "self, I promise to reward you with a Chanel bag when you reach your target." The latter was surprisingly effective (real surprising). Soon my focus was not on my temporary woes but looking forward towards working harder (and getting that Chanel bag).
This technique has also worked in social situations that have felt challenging, like walking into an event room full of casually dressed people when you're dressed to the nines -- decked out in all things glitter. I would immediately get that nauseated feeling in the pit of my stomach that says: "I just wanna go home!" But I made the decision not to listen to it. Instead, I told myself: "You can never be too overdressed, just underdressed. Go be fabulous and love what you're wearing." And by gosh if it didn't work, after awhile I had let go of my inhibitions about looking different than everyone else and was happily mingling about the room in my sparkles.
Again it worked when my self-esteem wasn't where it should be. Perhaps I was down about what I considered to be the extra bits of me riding above my jeans (we will not call them love handles anymore!), or that my skin was far blotchier than that of a model in an ad. In the midst of self-pity I stopped myself. (Recognizing unfair thoughts is key.) I replaced those nasty thoughts with new ones: "I have great ankles. My hips are such old news. My ankles are it." And more seriously with: "I am proud of myself for treating my friends and family well, to heck with my over-the-top-of-my-pants-puff." My confidence grew.
I believe you can talk to yourself about anything. What is so amazing about us is that we have the ability to consciously choose our reactions. We can choose if we are going to feel happy or sad, despite what may be happening in our present or affecting us. We just have to talk to ourselves to bring about that change -- I hope you try it. Even if you don't believe yourself at first, keep doing it; you will be so amazed at how powerful you can be.
And that's how I came to be my own best friend. (Because I told myself I was going to be. So I am.)