If you've read between 3-5 of my friendship articles on this site before, you've probably seen me mention that it tickles me, whenever people speak of having multiple best friends. The word "best" speaks to someone being the most, above all else. So, while you can have many good friends, a best friend, by definition, is to stand heads above the rest.
That said, something that I'm a fan of is individuals who strive to be their own best friend. When you think about the fact that the word "best" is about putting something first and focusing what will prove to be most advantageous or successful, why wouldn't you want to make sure that you care about yourself enough that you are doing what is truly best for you? That you are completely and totally at peace with you? That you enjoy spending consistent and quality time—with you?
To me, being your own best friend doesn't mean that you don't need anyone else. It simply means that you're not needy for anyone else. You've got yourself, she's dope and because of that, everyone else is not a dire necessity, so much as a beautiful bonus. So, how can you know that you are your own BFF?
1. Your Favorite Company Is Your Own
Some of us are extroverts. Some of us are ambiverts. Some of us are introverts. When it comes to this particular point, I'm pretty sure the ambiverts and introverts are immediately gonna be able to relate since we (I tend to lean towards the ambivert side of life) get a lot of the energy we need by seeking within. But even if you're someone who gets more of what you seek by being around other people (shout-out to the extroverts), if you are your own best friend, you still have (consistent) moments when you prefer to spend time alone.
See, while an extrovert enjoys other folks, when they are their own best friend, they aren't so needy that they don't know what to do with themselves if they aren't constantly in a crowd. When your favorite company is your own, you literally live for moments when you can read a book in your favorite chair, cook a full meal for yourself or take a weekend to unplug and do nothing but pamper yourself and chill. Going out to dinner by yourself isn't weird, or even uncomfortable, because you are so at peace in your own space that you don't care what others think about you sitting at a table alone. You wanted something to eat, so you went to get it. No one else needed to accompany you. In fact, the thought didn't even cross your mind. That's just how much you dig yourself.
2. You Don’t Need the World to Help You Make a Decision
I know someone who used to constantly find themselves in a pattern of reckless decision-making. When I mentioned to them that they might want to consider seeing a therapist, they flippantly and arrogantly said, "I counsel myself." Hmph. Within that response, therein lies the problem, my friend. Proverbs 12:15(NKJV) says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise." So yes, there is indeed wisdom and maturity that comes with knowing that sometimes, getting an outside-looking-in perspective on things (from healthy, stable and trustworthy individuals) can help you to make a less narrow-minded choice.
Keeping this in mind, think about someone who you consider to be a really good friend of yours. I would assume that one of the qualities they hold is you are able to trust them—not kinda-sorta but to the utmost. Well, if you are your own best friend, the person you should have the most confidence in is yourself. You trust your principles. You trust your values. You trust your focus. To a certain degree, you even trust your gut (check out "When You Should Trust Your Gut & When You Shouldn't"). So, this means that you are able to have a level of security and confidence when it comes to making the choices that are right and best for you.
You don't need to always call your mama or your BFF. And, if you do and they don't agree with you, you can decipher when you should allow their opinion to weigh in on your choices or not. You know you, better than anyone. This means that deciding what's best for your life is something that, more times than not, you are able to figure out, all on your own. Know what else? You can also be at peace with your conclusions, even if you're the only one who agrees with them. Not because you're being rebellious or going out of a way to prove your independence (that's another article for another time). It's simply because you know it's OK to make decisions that not everyone will like or understand. And so…you do.
3. You Have a Healthy Sense of Self
I've shared before that something my 40s have consisted of is being intentional about knowing the difference between what is "Shellie" as it relates to a lot the childhood and adolescent trauma that I experienced vs. who I am once a lot of the trauma has been resolved and healed. I call it "Shellie vs. PTSD Shellie". One thing that Shellie is gonna die being is a direct person. Full stop. Something that is fading, because PTSD Shellie is becoming less and less of an issue, is the "inner tick" to want to try and control everything—and sometimes, everyone. This example is why I think it's so important to know the fine-line-difference between self-esteem and having a healthy sense of self. While, for the most part, self-esteem is about respecting and valuing yourself, I like how a writer by the name Antoinetta Vogels said this about what it means to have a healthy sense of self:
"A Sense of Self is a prerequisite for self-esteem but not the same. If you can't really sense your Self, if you are not aware that you are your own person, if you are not home in your own body and being, it is impossible to have any esteem of your Self. Your Self is not sensed so how could you esteem it. To be present to yourself implies paying attention to yourself, listening to your body and respond to your emotional and psychological needs."
I used to spend a lot of time, just assuming that how I am is how I was born to be. But Antoinetta is exactly right; the more I listened to my conscience, my health and, to a certain extent, my feelings, the more I was able to figure out who I am—not who my parents tried to make me be, what denomination I grew up in tried to brainwash me to be or even when the people around me tried to influence me to be. A healthy sense of self is about knowing you and then figuring out what is best for you. The more you put that into practice, the more you're able to start developing a higher sense of self-esteem that will lead you into becoming your own best friend as a direct result.
4. You’ve Got Your Own Back. No Matter What.
Yeeeeeh. Some of y'all don't wanna talk about how the Good Book says that if the world loves everything you do, spiritually, that's a red flag (John 15:19). Basically, what that means is if you stand for biblical standards, a lot of folks are gonna have a real problem with that and try and "cancel" you for it. But even beyond the Bible, a wise person once said, "If everyone likes you, you have a serious problem." What this speaks to is, if everyone is on board with you, all the time, either they don't know you very well or some parts of you are disingenuous. Why? Because it's impossible for every single person to like every other individual on the planet. Not all personalities mesh. Not everyone shares the same perspectives or values. Personal convictions alone can cause folks to be like, "Yeah, I'm good on you." Shoot, even a throwback article from Huffington Post once said that if more than 85 percent of people in your world like you, something is "off" (interesting, right?).
That's why I thought that this was also a very valid point to bring up when it comes to indicators that you truly are your own best friend. When you know you, understand you, respect you and love and like yourself, you don't find yourself compromising your standards or succumbing to pressure—whether online or off—just to get more people to "like you".
If it gets to the point and place where you've got to stand alone on some things, so be it. Things might get a little lonely at times, but you won't be devastated nor will you betray yourself. You're your own best friend, so you're in good company, regardless.
5. You Are Self-Compassionate
In the article, "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like", something that I actually touched on was self-compassion. But for the sake of this particular article, let's look a bit deeper into what it means to have this particular quality. Truth is, compassion is probably one of the most misused words around. The reason why I say that is because, while a lot of people profess to be a compassionate person, it's not the kind of word that is lip service-based only. Compassionate folks don't just see suffering and "awh" it or retweet it and then go about their day. They are individuals who notice that someone is in need and then do what they can to bring relief.
So, when you're self-compassionate, this point applies to how you address your own struggles, mistakes and pain. You don't wallow. You are intentional about breaking unhealthy patterns. You take full responsibility for the roles you played in your hurt. And yes, when you do see where you made less-than-the best choices, you don't beat yourself up. You simply look for ways to do and be better. A self-compassionate individual is extremely proactive about suffering less and thriving more. If you consider yourself to be this kind of person, you are someone who is very good to yourself. Trust me.
6. You Do Things with Your Sanity, Well-Being and Future in Mind
Good lookin' out, fam. This is typically something that we tell someone who really looked out for us, right? When it comes to our good friends, they have a tendency to do that often. Well, when you're your own best friend, you can usually smile at your decisions, on a daily basis, because you tend to not make impulsive choices, you learn from the past and you also observe what others have done so that you don't have to go through any unnecessary drama. I can definitely raise my hand in this class and say that since I've become my own best friend, if there is a person, place, thing or idea that is showing earlier signs of jeopardizing my inner tranquility, holistic health or even my future plans, they or it has to remain at a safe distance.
Did you peep how I also said "idea"? One day, I'll pen a piece on how we've got to discipline ourselves to not feed every idea that comes into our minds or is presented into our space. I have learned—the hard way, I might add—that the moment something comes into my psyche that my mind, body and spirit are not all in agreement with, it's usually best to leave that thing alone. It's one of the best ways I've been a friend to myself. It has been a blessing times a billion.
7. You Are a Good Friend to Others As a Direct Result
This one is a great one to end this with. People in my world know that I don't use the word "friend" loosely. Not by a long shot (check out "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships" and "Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'"). For one thing, there is a lot of space between "friend" and "enemy" and so it's cool to have some folks be close acquaintances or even just cool people. And second, I know what I expect as well as bring to the table when it comes to my friendships. The bar ain't low and so, yeah, I am careful with the use of that word. But it's interesting that, the more I became my own friend, the better I was at selecting friends—and at being a good friend to them in return. Matter of fact, once I got to a point and place of being my own best friend, the quality of my friendships rose immensely. Things are happy, peace-filled and very settled now. And, because I'm proactive about treating myself well and right, I strive to put the same type of intention into my friendships with others too.
Without a doubt, there are other signs that you're your own best friend. But I believe that if you can nod your head to everything on this list, the others aren't necessary. Remember, life is designed for us to have friendships. All of those can be so much richer when your best friend is actually—you.
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