Remember, I said: “In no particular order!”
9. Learn to be your own best friend.
There are at least two compelling reasons why this seemingly obvious proposition found its way into my “Top 10.” First, becoming your own best friend is the single most critical (and achievable) line of defense against loneliness. Second, no matter who you are or where you go, the reality is that you can’t escape “you.” In fact, if you’re like the rest of us, chances are you will spend the majority of your day engaged in very singular pursuits (e.g., getting up, getting ready, traveling to and from work, sitting at an office desk or in a classroom, doing all different types of “homework,” walking the dog, reading, writing, hanging out around the house, sleeping, etc.), during which your closest (and only!) companion, the person you will have to rely on to entertain you, to motivate you, to provide you with emotional support, to build and reinforce a positive self-image is – wait for it – YOU! Consequently, you have to learn to always be there for “you.” You have to be willing to recognize the good in “you.” You have to embrace the fact that “you” are imperfect and be O.K. with that – I dare say even learn to laugh about the inevitable manifestations of that imperfection at times! I know it sounds simple, but, trust me, its one of Life’s greatest challenges. For reasons I’ve never been able to fully understand, many of us (myself included) are inclined instead to be (and have a much easier time being) our own harshest critics. Consciously or subconsciously, we seek out what we perceive to be our “deficiencies” and when we find them, we are relentless in our self-abuse. We bombard ourselves with negative and hurtful “self-talk.” We dwell on, even obsess about, our mis-steps and mistakes, while barely pausing over all the good that we do, all we have to be proud of, our many accomplishments, large and small, our talents – the things that make us unique. Being kind to and respectful of ourselves, just doesn’t come naturally to most of us. For that reason, becoming “your own best friend” will require a conscious effort. Just like you do in forming friendships with others, you will need to seek out the good in yourself, the things that, if you’re to be honest, you like, if not love, about yourself, the things that, if you saw them in another, you would immediately be attracted to, want more of. When you find them (and, believe me, they’re there to be found!), nurture them, constantly “remind” yourself of their existence, give yourself the credit you deserve for them and appreciate them, so that, in time, they will dwarf/suffocate what almost certainly are your disproportionately smaller/fewer “shortcomings.”
Just one more thing: I’m reasonably certain that you wouldn’t hesitate to sing the following song to your best friend. Why is it then, that there likely isn’t “a snow ball’s chance” that you would consider singing it to the person staring back at you in the mirror this morning? (And with all due respect to Joe, please don’t tell me after listening to it that it’s because “you can’t sing” or “you can’t remember the words”!?!):