The article's title comes from a comment once made by Lucille Ball, the world-famous American actress and comedian. She understood that before you could have a good relationship with anyone else, you must first have cultivated a good one with yourself. It's essential to have a solid foundation of knowing and understanding who you are, and what matters most to you
. The hard part for most people is getting to know that person when you don't even know who you are yet. Yet, like a puzzle, it is something that takes time, patience and a lot of willingness to unravel the layers through trial and error. This article will walk you through some of the foundational steps that will help you to become best friends with the person who is truly you, so that you can appreciate how great and unique you are.
Ask yourself: Who am I? This simple sounding question is actually very hard to answer. It is a question that goes directly to the root of your values, beliefs, doubts, sense of reality and even the external perceptions imposed upon you by others, whether or not true. When asking yourself this question, try the following:
Ask a friend who knows you well to help you. If you feel confronted by having someone else point out your good and bad points, remember that if you do not agree with their evaluation you don’t have to accept it––it's their external perception of you and they can't really know you deep down. But it is recommended that you consider their analysis of you carefully and remember it as you taking a hard look at yourself. Some of the things that your friend says about you might strike a chord and might even help you to realize what needs changing or improving in your life.
Look up the meanings of words that you've designated as your weaknesses and strengths. You need to have a really deep understanding of the words. For instance, if you are told you are kind, what does being kind really mean? It encompasses generosity to others, compassion, thoughtfulness, giving of yourself and much more––which aspects of this trait resonate most with you?
Look at your list of weaknesses. It's important to acknowledge the things about yourself that aren't helping you to feel more fulfilled or successful in life. But don't be too hard on yourself––remember that this is your list and it's all going to be worked on, with clarity of perspective. For example, if you're bad tempered, this is clearly an area that is worth working on, to enhance your relationships with others and to stop using frustration and anger as an excuse for not getting the things you really want out of life. Focusing on what isn't working for you is a way of acknowledging that this behavior or attitude has outlived its usefulness (if it ever had any in the first place) and allows you to make a decision to turn weaknesses into strengths, or to focus more on your strengths so that you can leave the weaknesses alone altogether.
Learn to be humble. By accepting that you don’t know everything, you become more likable and able to learn from others. Who likes a know it all? More to the point though, having to maintain a facade of always being the expert, all-knowing person in the room can set you up for fear of failure and a worry that you carry everyone else's burdens. Life is a shared journey during which we all have a role to play and no one person can do the job of every person. You can't be expert at everything and in trying to be so, you risk shutting off learning from the perspectives and ideas of other people that you can always keep building on to make yourself a better person and to understand the world more fully. By being humble, you let others know that their story and ideas matter as much as your own.
Keep it real. Honesty is really a great trait to have; it lets other people know that you can be relied on and that your word is your bond. Honesty isn't about being blunt or rude though––it's about telling things candidly with a view to respecting other people's intelligence, feelings and needs too. Moreover, honesty is about the everyday things in life, like not taking stationery home from work without permission or not taking the tomatoes from the farmer's stand without leaving change. Honesty is a way of letting you continue to feel good about yourself inside, knowing that even if other people haven't done the right thing, you have and will continue to do as an example of the most fulfilling way to live. Honest people can live with themselves, a fact which makes it so much easier to love yourself.
Stop telling yourself negative stuff. Things such as "I am so fat" or "I am so stupid", do not help you. They are bad stories that you choose to tell yourself and they do not let you off scott free from having to continue to work on yourself, which is often a compelling reason for maintaining a negative view of yourself. Instead, choose to tell yourself a different, more self-respectful story whenever the negative voice raises its noise level. Tell yourself helpful things, such as "I need to work on my schoolwork harder", "I will get that promotion if I spend more time reviewing my management skills" or "I may be short but I am the fastest and most agile person on this field".
Speak to yourself as if you were your friend. Do you speak to yourself in a way that you would never dare speak to a friend? If so, this is extremely telling about how much you're undervaluing yourself while giving everyone else but yourself the benefit of the doubt. Instead of berating yourself as an angry parent might berate a child all the time (and perhaps this is precisely how your mind has taken to viewing yourself), start to talk to yourself as you would do to a friend you care about. Use kind words toward yourself, such as "You look good today. Your hair looks great." and "I have made great progress." These words will help you, encourage you and allow you to treat and see yourself in a valued and caring way.
Never put yourself down. Along with negative words, sometimes it is easy to put yourself down so much that you won't allow yourself to enjoy life. This will never do. Life is short and it behooves each human being to make the most of each day given. Give yourself the opportunity to let down your hair, to have fun and to get away from a life of "all chores, no play" by scheduling in self-time that won't be interrupted by chores, other people or stinking thinking. Some of the things you might tell yourself include: "I will sit at the park today and read a book", "I will take a bubble bath", "I will eat something I love" or "I will pamper myself today". Remember, you deserve it.
Make peace with yourself. If you dropped the ball and let someone down, try to not do that in the future; use the experience as a lesson to build on, a lesson that will now let you become the better person you're always striving to be. Instead of telling yourself that you're always a bad person, remind yourself that you would have done better if you knew how and that the experience in itself has taught you that "how" for future reference. Give yourself a break and make peace with that part of you that can sometimes be too rough on yourself.
Keep learning and allowing yourself to change. Growing throughout life is something every person needs to do. Anais Nin once made the comment that "life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. That is a kind of death." In other words, don't die before your time––in accepting that you change over time and renew yourself, you allow yourself to grow freely into the person you are fully meant to be at that point in time. Loving yourself is a journey, not an end.