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Finding a Friend in Yourself

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Why is it important to be a good friend to yourself? Whether you are surrounded by a hoard of besties or fill the role of lone wolf, being a good friend to yourself is the best way to be a true friend to others. It’s also an important step in loving yourself and letting God love you.

You know that famous Gandhi quote, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”?1 Here’s another challenge for you: be the kind of friend you most want to have. How you treat yourself will influence how others treat you.

You can try this out firsthand in a fun experiment. Ready? For one day and one day only, fill your mind with positive, confident thoughts. Yes, it might feel phony and fake. That’s OK, do it anyway. Walk with your head held high, shoulders squared, and keep repeating positive phrases to yourself throughout the day. Use words such as “strong,” “confident,” and “capable.” When the day is over, make a note of you how feel. Did you notice that others paid more attention to you? Took you more seriously? Interacted with you more?

The next day, do the opposite. You don’t have to mentally flog yourself. Most of us already have an inner critic that’s salivating to get center stage in our thoughts. Just for today, let it. Listen to the negative chatter, and don’t make any effort to change your physical posture or correct your thoughts. Again, at the end of the day, record your experiences. Did you notice that you didn’t interact as much with others? That you held back or were excluded from conversations? How did you feel, inside and out?

If we are able to treat ourselves with the same amount of care that we do our best friend, what a difference it will make in our lives! But I don’t have a best friend, you might be thinking. I don’t even have one single friend.

A school counselor I know could relate to this statement; she shared with me that growing up, she had zero friends. Not just two or one—but none. Looking back, though, she understands that this was a blessing. Because Sue (not her real name) didn’t have friends, she drew incredibly close to God. In fact, she’d tell you that God became her best friend in this period of her life. Now, as a counselor and pastor’s wife, Sue uses the skills and strengths she learned during that hard time of her life to help others.

Maybe, though, your experience is nothing like Sue’s. Instead, you’re the guy always surrounded by a group of good friends, or the girl who doesn’t travel anywhere without an entourage. The downside of this scenario is that it’s easy to lose yourself in the hubbub.

Let’s think for a minute about a house being built. You know that a lot of work goes into building a house: all the rooms must be formed, the walls erected, the doorways perfectly cut, the wiring and plumbing installed . . . and all of that is just the innards, the guts of a house, if you will. Then there is all the “pretty” stuff—the shingles and siding, the light fixtures and cabinets, and furniture to be chosen.

No matter how much time and money are spent on these areas, however, each one is completely worthless without a solid foundation. If the foundation is flimsy or uneven, the entire house is going to be affected. In fact, with a poor foundation, a house can literally fall down around the owner’s ears—granite countertops or not. The same is true of your relationship with yourself: how can you make it strong and sure and able to withstand the turbulence of other relationships—both good and bad—in the years to come?

Here are five simple ways to start building a positive relationship—with yourself:

1 Spend time with God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, you need to read His Word. The Bible is more than a bunch of stories of biblical heroes—it’s filled with God’s promises, His instructions, and His love notes to us, His children.

Reading the Bible, praying over problems, and thanking God for all that you’re grateful for in your life are important priorities in every Christian’s life. If you don’t already have a time set apart with God, make it happen. You’ll be amazed at what you will learn—about Him and yourself—when you do.
2 Take time to get to know who you are. What makes you tick? Do you like extreme sports, or do classic books and jazz music light your fire? Are you introverted, or do you love to be around people? Do you like animals? Puzzles? Green hair?

With so much noise coming at us constantly via social networking sites, the daily news, magazine headlines, blogs, and more, it’s easy to lose sight of ourselves and our likes and dislikes. It’s also a challenge to be bombarded daily with “other voices” and not lose your own. So take a little time—daily or weekly or whenever you can—to reconnect with yourself. Make a visual collage or drawing to remind yourself of your uniqueness—of what makes you you.
3 Treat yourself with respect. Never use words for yourself that you wouldn’t say to a best friend, nephew, or your beloved pet. This is a hard habit to break! Mental chatter is relentless.

There are lots of techniques you can use to retrain your thoughts. A popular one is wearing a rubber band on one of your wrists. As soon as a negative thought about yourself pops into your head, switch the band to the other wrist. And pray. Pray for help in overcoming the negative voice and, in its place, hearing God’s voice of love. If you’re really struggling and nothing you do works, consider talking with your parents about finding a good Christian counselor who can help you further, or talk with your pastor.

4 Celebrate your uniqueness. What is really unique about you? It could be a physical feature—your vibrant red hair, your freckles, your tall stature—or a skill or ability you have. It doesn’t have to be anything life-altering that will someday win you the Nobel Peace Prize. It could be something like the ability to make someone laugh, the way you make friends easily, or the love of adventure in your heart. Whatever it is that makes you truly unique is something to celebrate.

5 Build yourself up. First Thessalonians 5:11 says that we should “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (NIV).2 The golden rule teaches that we should treat others the way that we want to be treated.

So, if God’s Word tells us that we need to encourage each other and build each other up, doesn’t it make sense that we also would need to build ourselves up? How can we treat others with respect and encourage them if we treat ourselves really badly?

God loves you so much that it’s really hard to fathom. By loving and respecting yourself, you are in turn thanking God for the life that He’s given you. And when you are able to turn that love and respect and encouragement on others . . . watch out! Your world—and your friends—will never be the same.

1 “Mahatma Gandhi Quotes,” BrainyQuote, accessed August 28, 2015,
2 Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joy Choquette is an author and freelance writer. She lives and writes in northern Vermont.

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