Have you ever stopped to notice whether you are actually friends with yourself? I mean, really friends, like through the good times and the bad? It turns out I wasn’t. But did I know this? Not one bit. I simply thought I needed to fix my anxiety. Or that I wasn’t doing self-care well enough. Or that I needed to exercise more. Or that I needed to figure out the right way to act or respond or do things. I was convinced that these were things that needed to happen for me to really, truly start living my life feeling less anxiety, stress and overwhelm.
And guess what repeatedly happened? Things temporarily improved and I’d get on a bit of a high, feeling proud of myself for better controlling my anxiety or mastering self-care or for fixing whatever else I believed was wrong at the time.
But as life went on for this human named Emily, real life and all its glorious contrast continued to happen and my anxiety would return or my self-care would eventually decrease or disappear, or whatever else I’d “fixed” would turn back up. Maybe you know this frustrating hamster wheel, too?
You see, when you’re not friends with yourself, this drastically limits the meaning you can apply to this pattern when it repeatedly happens. It results in an inner dialogue that doesn’t feel one bit good. And often, it’s a dialogue that’s been present for so long that you don’t even recognize it’s there. You simply believe what it has to say.
That inner dialogue might sound something like this: “ Oh, great. You’re fucking up your self-care again. What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you just stick with it? Why do you have to get so worked up about the littlest things? You shouldn’t feel anxious about this. Nobody else is! Get your shit together, would you? Oh, great. Why did you say that to that person? Didn’t you see the look on their face? You never should have said that. Now they don’t like you. You could have handled that so much better…”.
I’m guessing this conversation is familiar to some of you because this is something that goes on regularly inside SO MANY PEOPLE. And it isn’t the conversation of friends, is it? These are words you would likely not speak to anyone else you know.
My life changed when I began to grow a friendship with myself. It turned out to be the single most powerful thing I’ve done in my life. And I’ve found this to be equally true for the clients with whom I work. It changes our experience with life’s contrast and the ebb and flow of anxiety, self-care, or anything else we long believed wrong and worked to fix.
It enables life to stop being an all or nothing dance so that we no longer need to reach a certain state to be able to really start living and feeling joy. It softens our response to the more challenging moments in our lives. It allows our nervous system to relax knowing it doesn’t need to work so hard to fight our attacks against ourselves.
This friendship reconnects us with our steady, wise, peaceful inner compass that’s always resided within each of us. And for many, it simultaneously taps them into an updated, more empowering connection with Presence, God, Spirit, the Divine, the Universe or some version of a Higher Power.
Am I suggesting you simply need to become friends with yourself and then any contrast will go away? Nah, but it sure WILL change your very experiences with the hard in life in ways you can’t imagine. And it WILL expand the amount of joy your experience, too.
Is cultivating this friendship simply a decision you make? Nah. It’s a process that involves surprisingly simple steps and I teach clients exactly what steps to take. I didn’t grow my friendship with myself overnight and neither will you, but you WILL be able to feel a difference early on, even in the “becoming acquaintances” phase of growing your friendship!
Learning how to come back home to yourself in friendship is the single most powerful way to be able to navigate anxiety and whatever comes your way with more ease… and even joy, no matter what your outside circumstances.
If you stop to ask yourself whether you are friends with yourself and you realize the answer is “No”, please know that you are not alone. Recognizing this friendship is missing is the first step in changing this.
People, we’re in a brand new year, which means there’s still time for you to make this the most amazing year possible!
So who’s ready to stop having experiences like anxiety rule your life and learn to be become better buds with yourself so anxiety isn’t overshadowing everything and making life feel so heavy? I’d love to chat with you about how to get out of the struggle so that you can unleash the magic of what this year is calling for you. If you’re ready to take this next step, DM me or write “HELL YES!” in the comments below!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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