15 Feb Be your own best friend
She is your best friend. You love her to the very core of her soul.
When you are having one of those days when the next person who so much as looks at you askance through their driver’s window will make you cry – the sound of her voice on her mobile’s answer phone is enough to calm you.
You hear her voice and picture her smile. Then you breathe and know that you can make it to bedtime, or at least until your first glass of wine.
She often moans about her hair (liable to frizz at the first sniff of rain), her lumps and bumps (the natural result of two children, juggling work, life and the universe) her lack of won’tpower, the annual To Do list she makes – and then remakes every year.
You listen. You sympathise. Then, you tell her to go easy on herself, to forgive herself for being…well, for being human.
Now imagine that she is in fact you.
Are you this kind to yourself?
Are you able to apply reason to the parts of your body you barely like let alone love? A tummy softened by children, a bum made soft by years saddled to a desk while you climbed the corporate ladder, upper arms that keep waving long after your hand has stopped?
Do you accept (and most importantly forgive!) your lack of willpower or won’tpower?
Nope. I thought not.
I am far kinder to those I love than I am to myself. I am far less quick to judge them when they mess up their house, their latest work project, their love life or their life in general.
I have spent years trying to work this out. Yet still the perfect answer eludes me.
I have (finally) learnt to like myself. (That took longer than it should have done).
I delight in my daughter daily, and I understand that a difficult pregnancy has changed my figure for life.
I can celebrate my professional achievements, but the joy is often fleeting, swiftly crushed by the sensation that someone is about to tap me on the shoulder and say, “I’m sorry, we’ve made a mistake. You don’t belong here.”
I struggle to extend to myself the same love and forgiveness that for my best friend I consider a basic requirement.
This is the year that I am going to change that.
For the first time, I am going to be my own best friend.
This is my plan…
Over the course of a natural life (albeit a First World one), we move house – probably several times. For the drivers among us, buying a new car is often a way of marking steps up the ladder of life (promotion, pay rise, marriage, the arrival of children, divorce, a new dog, a midlife crisis). The latter is usually the most expensive.
We all get one body. It grows with us from before our first day on this earth. We live in it until we die. And, (unless you have a surgeon on speed dial) it remains our body until the day we wave goodbye to life.
Yet, for sooooooo many years I treated my body worse than my car – and nowhere near as well as my house.
I lived only for every next taste of yumminess, for every next glass of something cold and delicious. I only wanted the pearls of life, the best bits, I didn’t give much thought to the string required to hold those pearls together.
And, I would often ‘eat up’ food rather than see it thrown in the bin – even when I was already full to bursting. My body is not a bin. If I am full I will stop eating. I hate throwing away food, but if that is what it takes to show my body real love then occasionally it is an acceptable evil.
This is the year that I will ‘pay my rent’ on my own body. Every day I will think about what I put into it, and how I need to move to keep it moving.
I am being kind to my body so that it will be as healthy as it can be. I want to live – and be strong – for as many years of my daughter’s life as physically possible.
I am going to treat my body as if it belongs to someone I love.
Funny that I didn’t think of that before…
I often find the harshest voice in the room is my own – but only when I am talking to myself.
With people I love, I coax, cajole and comfort. I want to soothe their pain and solve their problems.
When the mess is of my own making…well, not so much. In fact, if I talked to anyone else the way I inwardly criticise myself they would end our friendship lickety split.
Change here is going to require baby steps. I am going to apply the ‘best friend’ filter to everything I think about, and say to, myself. If I wouldn’t say it out loud to my best friend then I shouldn’t even think it about myself.
I am going to listen –properly listen – when people say nice things to me (and try to silence my instant inner ‘yeah, right’ response).
I am going to try (deep breath) to congratulate myself when I do something good.
And I am going to avoid (deeper breath) mental self-flagellation when I make a mistake.
As I said, baby steps…
Group hug anyone?