“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Yesterday’s post, “Pursuing Happiness”, listed 7 things one could try to work on in one’s life to achieve a measure of happiness. As I noted in that post, I ranked the 7 in the order of the difficulty I find I have achieving success with, and the reader should re-prioritize the list according to what (s)he thinks their needs might be.
Today’s post takes a closer look at #5 in that list. While I think it’s a lesser problem for me to work on, I believe – from my experiences with others – that it is probably the #1 issue many people have a problem with.
Being happy with ourselves.
Here are 3 examples of thinking that keeps us from liking ourselves enough to be our own friend. Each thing feeds – or is fed by – the others:
1). Fear of failure. (This is a big one for me personally. Maybe you can identify.) We can’t always succeed, sometimes we will fail; failure is a fact of life. But failing at something once – even twice, or more – isn’t a good reason not to try something new or again just because you’ve failed before. Consider Thomas Edison who, by his own account, said he’d failed 10,000 times during his inventive life, but never gave up because he thought of those failures as successes – he’d succeeded in finding 10,000 ways that didn’t work. The moral here is that you are not a failure just because your attempt failed, the failure was in the details – try another way and you’ll likely succeed. And success breeds success, whereas fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prediction.
2). Fear of not being good enough. Everyone, at one time or another, has been told by an overly critical parent, the girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife that calls it quits in the relationship, the clique or club you seek membership with, a job interviewer – even your religion – that you’re not good enough. Hear that often enough, and you’ll start to believe them. Soon, you’ll believe you are worthless and will become the champion self-critic, always focusing on your own perceived defects. But imperfections don’t mean you don’t have worth. For every weakness there is a strength. Find those strengths, cultivate them, and you’ll find where you are “good enough”. Believing you haven’t anything good in you is another self-fulfilling prediction.
3). The fear of not being accepted. If we believe we’re not someone who is likable, we’re more likely not to try finding someone who thinks we are. As a result, we’ll suffer a life of tormented isolation, alone and lonely. But consider this: There are more than 7 billion people in the world, and not everyone is going to get along well with one another. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other people who will like and accept you. The important thing is to find those people who do and forget about the rest. Believing you have nothing about you others will find likabe is yet another self-fulfilling prediction.
So how do you start being your own friend?
By doing what a friend does – by accepting, believing in, and never giving up…on you.
And when the world seems to have abandoned you, you will have one friend who won’t.