Published on May 13, 2021

Become a friend to yourself

By Harold Holcomb, Mind and Body, Messenger-Inquirer

Who is your best friend? Your closest confidant? Your “go to” source of support? Of all of your relationships (many of which have come and gone), which is the longest established and still continuing?

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is, or should be: YOU! If you think about it, your only relationship that lasts from your conception until your last breath is the relationship that you have with yourself.

You’re essentially stuck with yourself. So it behooves you to get along with yourself to (dare I say?) like yourself. That “internal dialogue” should, ideally, be positive and encouraging. Having a positive self-perception is an important aspect of overall good mental health.

So, what if a person is not a “card-carrying fan” of their own self? How might one develop an appreciation for self and become his/her own best friend?

Well, any good relationship should be based upon honesty. If you are to love yourself, then you should strive to know and understand (and accept) yourself as fully and authentically as possible.

Combining feedback from others with ongoing self-evaluation can help with that quest. An exploration of your strengths and areas for improvement (that sounds better than weaknesses, doesn’t it?) would seem prudent.

It is crucial during this self-assessment to refrain from being a “hard marker” (a harsh judge). Strive to regard your pastas a teacher, take comfort in the idea that change and growth are always possibilities.

Embrace the concept that there is always room for improvement.

As you proceed down the path of self-development towards greater self-acceptance, an initial consideration would be contrasting your more fully realized understanding of who you are with the vision of who you want to be.

As Bill Phillips points out, “The difference between who you are and who you want to be, is what you do.”

George Bernard Shaw is credited with saying, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Self-development can include adopting a new, more positive attitude, becoming more ambitious, increasing patience or self-acceptance.

Self-development can also include beginning an exercise program or diet, resuming your education, finding a new hobby, learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument.

Become a friend to yourself. Become your own cheerleader. Get in touch with your “inner coach” and stifle (or at least censure) your “inner critic.”

Build relationships

Also, seek out and foster stronger (or new) relationships. It is through relationships that we grow.

Recognize and act upon opportunities to help others. There is some belief that helping others can prompt positive physiological changes (increased happiness and sense of well-being).

For times when you might feel overwhelmed by adversity, consider maintaining a “self-care box.” A self-care box is a container of photos or sentimental items that can prompt positive memories, confidence or inspiration.

Perhaps it might include some index cards upon which you’ve written the touching and encouraging words of a friend, mentor, colleague, supervisor, coach, parent or other loved one.

The way that we view ourselves may be an indicator of how we regard others. Let’s be as generous and loving toward ourselves as we are toward those around us. Harold Holcomb, LPCC, specializes in counseling. He provides employee assistance program (EAP) counseling and outpatient counseling at the Owensboro Health Healthpark.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.