What makes a party great?
It’s not just the venue, ambience, music and food. What makes or breaks a great evening are the people (or the person) you are with.
What makes the difference in the party of life? Your family — the important people you live with every day are always at the top of the list. But who can you turn to when you need a helping hand, some encouragement, honest feedback or a word of advice?
Your best friends (If you’re lucky in marriage, your spouse is one of them).
Friends come in many forms. You have Facebook friends who may not be real friends — real friends make you feel better about yourself. Studies have shown that most people feel worse about themselves when they see how great their Facebook friends look and how much more fun they’re having.
The reason of course is that most people use Facebook as a forum for showing their best self(ies) after at least a dozen shots are trashed, and their accomplishments and activities. When you’re hanging out with real friends in real life, they don’t act like you’re on a date.
You can have family friends who are, just like family, always there and together for life — even if you don’t get along. You may have casual school or work friends. You get along well when you’re in the same place every day. Most often we lose touch when the class is over, we graduate or we change jobs.
We have friends who are enablers or co-conspirators. They feed our worst habits. They can be shopping friends who encourage us to spend more than our partners would. They could be drinking or gambling buddies. These friends amplify our flaws, bring out the worst in us and lead us deeper into debt and addiction.
Then there are the five star friends — your best friends. How are they different and how do they earn their stars?
1: They accept you as you are.
2: They listen to your sad or angry story, see things from your point of view and acknowledge your feelings.
3: They remind you of your strengths.
4: They see the best in you (even when you’re at your worst).
5: They set you straight when you’ve wandered off the path.
So, what can you do when your best friends aren’t around, they’re not answering your call or text and you can’t even reach them on Facebook? You could stop being your own worst enemy and instead be your own best friend. Much of the time, we do the opposite. We put ourselves down, forget our best qualities and fill our minds with negative self-talk.
If you’re feeling blue or you’re just feeling stuck, channel your best friend. Shine the light of self-compassion on yourself, recall your positive accomplishments and your signature strengths. Ask yourself, “What would my best friend say?” Many people who are great parents and friends to the people in their lives are self-judging and self-neglecting. They care for others but not themselves. Your personal happiness and well-being requires a healthy dose of self-compassion. You deserve it. Be your own best friend — and be a good parent to yourself.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on mindfulness and achieving your positive potential in life, visit davidicuswong.wordpress.com.