What is being a friend to yourself?
Being a friend to yourself is more than getting our manicure, shopping, watching movies, being spontaneous and doing what we want. In fact, often times, being a friend to yourself is not doing what we want. Sounds great right?
Being a friend to yourself might be the hardest work you ever do. For a time, it might feel like you are turning your back on your family, being selfish, sacrilegious and unfriendly. You won’t get kudos from your support groups. You won’t be noticed or hear thank-you very often. I’m sure you can’t wait to hear the rest! “Where can I sign up?” Right?
Being a friend to yourself is taking accountability for our lives. It says, everything starts and ends with Me. It looks for accountability for our actions, our feelings, our health, our spirituality or connections in Me and not towards any external locus.
When we are a friend to ourselves, we don’t apologize and then say, “but….” We make amends for what we believe we are responsible for. We do this without clarifying and justifying our behaviors. We are not victims even though we may have been victimized, hurt, misused and forgotten.
Being a friend to yourself protects us against apperceiving that we are defined by anything we don’t choose. Public opinion, stigma or even our pain does not define us. Our pain is not special. We are special.
We believe that we are free. Free to choose self-care. Free not because of the men who died for our freedoms, not because of our behaviors or spending power, but we are free because we are human. Being our own friend is a privilege that we can choose freely to exercise or not. No one can make it happen except Me. Just like no one can make me love you or demand a gift because of the inherent freedom within them. These things happen only because we believe in them, won over by Love.
We become our own advocate, admirer and treasure of high value.
When we are a friend to ourselves, we don’t deny our history but we claim the freedom to start over any time. The history does not define us. We are more than actions good or bad. We have an essence that is timeless and unchanged by the ravages of illness or misuse.
Being a friend to yourself means caring for the specifics of your body, your simple needs that lead to complex outcomes. Your exercise, your sleep, your diet, water and air are all worth fighting for. These things you do for yourself become your currency. You find that the better friend you are to yourself, the better you become for others.
At this new place of safety for you, where you give less, you give more to those you love. You discover the mystery that no one can give what she doesn’t have. Just like any bank, we deposit and withdraw and must protect our basic assets before we are taken over and lose the freedoms because we were poor managers of this one body that God gave us.
Everyone pull out your wallets and please empty them on the desk. How much do you have? How far will that take you? Do you ever go a little crazy wondering where you will get more?
Now imagine that this is your body. You have these assets; this currency. Currency like your energy, positive emotions, interest, motivation. You have bank when you can move around, walk, and muscles to lift your child, this vision to admire her new dress. This is money, this beauty that you offer your significant other, your body, and your shape.
Now you are giving to your children. Up in the night when they wake up and you can’t sleep afterwards. You skip exercise the next day, in fact, why even talk about it. You haven’t exercised in a year or more. It’s been really hard when your body is either pregnant or recovering from pregnancy over the past seven years.
You never lost the weight and for some reason, now that you want to, your body is firmly telling you, “No.” You don’t care enough about not having had sex with your husband in four months, but it does bother you that he uses porn so much. You don’t talk about it. You’re too tired.
Your child now develops eczema. She’s nervous and complains of stomach-ache often. She cries a lot and you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed being with her or any of your kids. No doubt. You do love them. That’s what all this is about, right? You are sacrificing everything for them and would do it again. They are your life and when they move out in 15 years, you’re moving with them. Husband or no husband. What else do you have? You aren’t even interested in anything to want to do anything else besides bleed yourself for them.
You can see that this story isn’t anyone’s fantasy. But can you see that the mother-character – she’s not very nice. She is not nice to herself and not that nice to anyone else either. Even though many people are on her list of party invites, she is not connected much to any of them. You can bet that her family enjoys her about as much as she enjoys herself. She is angry with them for this but doesn’t realize that she feels ashamed by it more than angry. Betrayed.
Now enters the victim-role this mother plays. Oh boy. I know. You probably don’t want to hear about it. It hurts just to start in like this, huh? So let’s not. Let’s draw another picture.
Look at your wallets again. Now how do you get what you need to keep it full? How do you get what you want to give and splurge on the ones you love? Where does all that money come from?
Work. You said it sisters. And so this is you. You are a mother of how many? Three? Two? Who do you live with? What are your jobs at home and elsewhere? How much of that can you do if you don’t have energy? Motivation? Interest?
Oh but you do. You take care of your basic needs. You exercise even when your kids are pulling on your sweat pants all the way out the door to the gym. You don’t get up for your kids at night as quick. You let them cry it out or do what ever it takes for them to get themselves back to bed. You take medication if you must to get back to sleep after you are awoken. You practice sleep hygiene and although you miss, you desperately miss having spontaneous late night TV, you don’t. You go to bed. Recently you lost twenty pounds and you are working all your resources to keep it off. You can’t believe how hard it is to keep off even though you can barely believe how fantastic it feels every day without that weight.
You take your medication because you understand that emotions and behaviors come from the brain. When you used to not feel pleasure, it wasn’t because you didn’t want to, try to, pray to. It was because the symptoms from the condition of your brain health were emotions and behaviors in the down direction. And thank goodness! Now when you see your kids, you not only love them, you like them. Sometimes it takes your breath away. You just can’t believe that you didn’t feel this before. You like your kids.
I can go on. But I think you get it. No one can give what you don’t have. Now show me your wallets. Put whatever you took out back in. Not much? No worries. You are your own friend and will take care of yourself.
I know I’m making it sound like being a friend to yourself isn’t that fun. Having fun isn’t the agenda of friendship. The agenda is doing what is positive for your friend. It is some of the hardest work you’ve ever done. It means connecting with others because you know it is good for you – even though you are shaking, nervous or just plain don’t want to. It means going out to find love when love doesn’t find you. It is hard! It isn’t necessarily doing what is smooth and easy, although sometimes it may be.
Self-care is a discipline of action, presence or whatever is called for by you, your friend. It takes your natural genius, the things that came to you without working, and it uses those to steer your energies. It uses those to tell you where you will be working like a mad-dog at times to find the most pleasure and be the most productive, have the most service to offer, be connected in the most intimate way with those you love – God and man.
Self-care is not for the people who need it. It is for those who want it. If you don’t want it, stop listening and be on your way.
Questions: What is called for by you, your friend, to do? What has pushed you, worked you, tired you out until you were happily spent on caring for your friend, you? Please tell me your story.
- Sleep Does Not Lose As Gracefully As He Lets Us Think (friendtoyourself.com)
- Self-Care Does NOT Always Mean Doing What You Want (friendtoyourself.com)
This is, by far, the best piece you have written for this blog. This puts so many parts together… This stands on its own. Wherever you go from here, this piece needs to travel with you and be an offering of who you are and what you are about, first thing. I hear a special conviction in the tone of this piece; this came from the truest true place, that ringing authentic place where all great and moving writing comes from…
u big sweetie. went well today by the way. going at it again tomorrow.
Self care is work. I like to finish the work. Get the job done. But self care seems to be a never ending process. It can wear you out. “Good God, I have to think all day about this or that. To be proactive, this with restraint, being passive there, that with vigilance.” It becomes a chore. So is life. At least we can measure results and much behavior becomes automatic and effortless. At least we get results and are not like the condemned Sisyphus pushing that rock up the mountain eternally.
i hear u on this. gently gently is all i can say.
read this again carl, after all this time. well said, still.
perhaps our need to be validated plays a role in our frustration. it is a normal, at one time, healthy need. nothing to be ashamed of. nothing to fear in it. until, one day, there blew in a whispering wind… dah dah dah… smile. what is becoming of us at the whip tip of our inner drives? keep on.
Wow, Sana, what an entry!!! You poured heart and soul into this and it’s wonderful! Don’t have to look very hard to read between the lines, either. God bless you, my blog-site friend. What you have done for us – and you! – has been (and, I’m sure, as you keep on blogging, will continue to be) priceless. I know that my wallet has filled with the right stuff since this site found me. I have no doubt others’ have, too. We keep working because you keep writing. Thank you SO much!
smiling. u r welcome blog-friend.
Body, mind, and spirit. We are complex, aren’t we? Your post makes a lot of sense, Sana. We must be whole to possess ourselves, to understand ourselves. We must flourish to give anything away. We need peace with God, mental and physical health, and we need courage to accept our responsibility in maintaining this balance. Life isn’t for sissies. And we reap what we sow. God is good and He trains us, if we are willing to learn.
I think the first thing I had to learn was how to let go and let God, because some things we try to handle we cannot. When we allow God to handle what we cannot, we are free to manage what we can.
I’ve heard this. It’s not a Bible verse, but I see truth in it. What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If we want to triumph, we need to find a starting place and go for it. Am it right? Find our worst habit and break it. Then, in victory, challenge the next. And don’t quit.
Thank you for your post. Blessings to you, Sana…
thank u carol. your opinion is important to me and i am so grateful that u take the time to share. that eating the elephant bit though… bleach!
Ya think I might have heard the elephant thing wrong? 🙂
laughing. it made sense though!
Sana this is wonderful! My wallet is half. Half full or half empty. Better than it was, but not as full as it will be! Thank you for your inspiring words.
yay chris! i’m so happy for u
I loved this and I can’t explain why. It is a very freeing post, despite its determination to look real life in the face. Thanks, Sana.
thank u sooo much kate. hearing from u makes wonderful company. luv your opinion.
I agree with the comments above that this post is special. Yes we have to take responsibility for ourselves and our self care. You say it beautifully. No late night TV for me, I want my wallet full.
u can take me to dinner any time lady-friend
Well said. I guess I have a lot of work ahead. I only had .11 cents.
smiling. u r too quick carrie. bless.
I really enjoyed your workshop last night.. thanks!
The way you explain self-care is great because it puts where it should be – as work.
It’s a job taking care of anyone, why not see taking care of ourselves as work too? I want to do the job well and feel I am. Words like this offer support and comfort.
I read my prayer from Unity this morning and it reminded me of what said last night so I will paste it here:
Joy overflows from within me.
Joy is my nature as a child of God. It does not fluctuate based on what is happening in my life. While I may feel happy or sad in any given moment, these feelings cannot swell or dampen the joy built into my very being. The buoyancy I experience from outer events is temporary, eventually needing to be refreshed by the next pleasing experience. True joy is not something I acquire from outer events or things–it is something I release from within.
No matter what I am experiencing, when I take time to make contact with the Christ center within me, I feel joy. Christ in me is my spiritual foundation, my pattern of wholeness, my overflowing joy.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy. –Psalm 16:11
thank u andrea! wonderful to connect w u again today on-line! it is a job to take care of anyone. good one!
your prayer is lovely and i agree – consistent w your efforts w self-care. thanks for pasting it for us. i look forward to more correspondence along the way. keep on!
I get the Daily Word, from Unity, too and loved what it said. Thank you for posting this days note here for us,
I often find it talks directly to me and I find value in reading it in the morning.
All I can say is wow, and God please give me the strength to take care of this body and mind….as it is your temple. Sana you have been blessed with much wisdom, thanks for sharing! May the store houses of heaven be poured upon you and your family!
thank u dear julie. this comment let me wear my colorful feathers out in the sun for more than a day.
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