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Being a friend to yourself

One day last week, I was having a bad day.  I was feeling moody, not looking at my best (couldn’t be bothered to shave) and generally not wanting to engage with anything or anyone.  Essentially I was trying to get through to the end of the day without effort - on autopilot.

While I was in that state, a question occurred to me: would I feel different (and better) if I thought my life was being watched by an audience – like in a film? Not just any old audience, but one that was rooting for me and wanted the best for me?  In other words, if I felt I wasn’t alone, and that even during my most mundane actions and experiences (like brushing my teeth in the morning), I had people rooting for me, wanting the best for me?

Would this enable me to see things differently?  Perhaps help me to summon up the best of me, live with my head held a little higher and make decisions to do things that were better for my day and my future if I had this sense of not being alone – of not just 'living for me'?

Having put this thought experiment into action on that day, I felt it had a positive effect, as it can help us see things a little differently – and is worth trying!

It’s not about getting into the fantasy world of having an ‘imaginary friend’ watching you, or sinking into the realms of paranoia, feeling that one is constantly being watched and judged, but instead it’s about living in a way where you’re adopting two perspectives on yourself – the usual one from within, as lived experience, but also one where you’re looking externally on yourself as a sympathetic but objective observer and asking ‘what would be best for me now?’.  Not just the best behavior or decisions, but the best way to think and see the world at that point in time.

For example, if I was having the bad day I was just describing and adopted this dual perspective, I might ask myself whether it would make sense to have a shave and dress well to look good and feel better about myself. I might look around at the home and life I have and think how lucky I am to have it. I might also look at the day ahead and how ‘my story’ might unfold for the day and see if there are things I can do to make it more enjoyable – like arranging to meet with a friend or taking some exercise.

As you can see, this is mainly a tool to help you get perspective on your life and your situation, but it could also help to lift us out of negative moods and thought processes. We can sometimes get so immersed in our own minds and world views in daily life that it can be difficult to see beyond them – so any tool that helps us to do this could be useful.

Why not try it?