“Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt …
When building and forming the relationships of our lives, we often tend to focus on those friendships we develop with others, yet forget the essential first step of becoming friends with ourselves. But our ability to get along with others, requires us to get along with ourselves. And although this critical step sounds like an easy thing to do, in practice, we often times discover that the saying, “I am my own worst enemy,” applies in our lives. All too often, we attack ourselves for any of the shortcomings we have, anything we did wrong, or any of the challenges in which we did not succeed or finish as we had expected–often times being rather merciless with ourselves. But in situations like these, we often times dig ourselves into ruts–as a result of the ways in which we think about ourselves, things will not happen as we hope; but we think about ourselves in such ways because things are not happening in our lives.
There is a song by Newsboys in which they sing, “This is your life, treat yourself right. Treat others right, live like you know you should. This is life, fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right, do what you know you should.” They obviously understand the importance of valuing and treating oneself right–for just as we would make sacrifices for our friends, it is important to make sure that we are willing to make sacrifices in order to treat ourselves as a friend too.
The beauty of our friendships with our own self is that it opens the doors to all other friendships. It is the key to opening the door of compassion, empathy, kindness, forgiveness, understanding, love, and so much more; essentially, it is the foundation upon which all of our other relationships will be built upon. And when we treat ourselves well, we know what it means to be treated well and can thus treat others in a similar way, as they deserve to be treated. Likewise, we know how we deserve to be treated and can limit our exposure to those who treat us wrong.
Jesus of Nazareth said it quite succinctly: Love others as you love yourself. Eleanor says you cannot be friends with others if you cannot be friends with yourself, and Jesus implies that you cannot love others unless you love yourself. Thus, it all really comes down to common sense–people are unable to give to others something they do not know themselves.
Find a few new healthy ways in which you can be kinder, more sympathetic, and more compassionate to yourself.
Questions to consider:
Why does it sound so strange to talk about being friends “with ourselves”?
What kinds of things will we do for ourselves if we actually treat ourselves as friends? Why do we tend not to do such things more often?
Why are so few people willing or able to teach us about the value of being friends with ourselves?
For further thought:
“When we don’t love ourselves unconditionally, the limited, judgmental, conditional love we give ourselves is all we have to give anyone. When we see ourselves as flawed, we also see others as flawed.” ~ unattributed