Friendship with self. Thursday August 10, 2017
Being a friend to oneself is so important and so often forgotten in a crisis. We look to other people to provide company and encouragement and solutions and often allow our inner selves to keep up a barrage of criticism that undermines and withers our enjoyment of being who we are, right now, in this place.
Sometimes this constant commentary is so familiar we don't consciously know it's there but when you tune in to it the realisation of the self-condemnation and the language used to express it, can be shocking. The antidote is to develop the inner companion; the one who doesn't berate you for lying in bed too long but gently suggests that now may be a good time to rise and make some plans, who encourages and recognises steps, however small, as a continual part of a journey to change. The one who is alongside, with you, rather than sitting in judgement.
I am battling with alcohol at the moment; not a dramatic, technicolour, falling in the gutter kind of battle, but the habit of drinking more wine each evening than is good for me. My aim is to have more evenings without alcohol than with. Sometimes I win and wake the next morning feeling still tired but pleased with my strength of will. However, when I fail and down a bottle, my tendency is to veer towards self-hatred, despair and an over-arching idea of my life as failure. That can take hold and perpetuate depression and a paralysis.
My current approach is to be kinder and gentler as I would towards a friend and, without being permissive, to say to myself " Ok. That happened, but it doesn't have to keep happening and the overall trajectory is better than it was. Well done for that and we'll keep trying.". To hold on to progress and to be compassionate about the opposite. To pick myself up, as one would help and hug a miserable toddler and move towards a different state of mind. This takes regular conscious practice as does learning any new skill.
Real friends are great but not always available and not always up to date with our own script. The person best placed to give one what one needs, in terms of understanding and will power, is often living inside us. Then we can enjoy other people in all their glorious array, without the expectation that they can complete or rescue us. Or us them.
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.