We often hear common ways to be a good friend to others. We should be loyal, honest, and caring to our friends. A good friend listens without judgement and makes us feel better when we are feeling down. When we have a positive friendship, it helps us to feel connected, supported, and understood. We feel more confident when our friend showers us with praise or comforted when they lend a shoulder to cry on. Although, sometimes, we have what we would call a bad friend, someone who may be cruel, dishonest, or unsupportive to name a few. When we have a friend like this, we tend to feel bad about ourselves and question our worth, value, and judgement. If you took the concept of a good friend versus a bad friend and applied it to your own inner voice with which you speak to yourself, would you a friend or foe? If your inner voice were an actual friend, would you still be friends?
So, who or what is this “inner voice?” The voice that says, “don’t forget to feed the cat” before you leave home and criticizes you when you forget. One’s inner voice, also known as internal dialogue or inner monologue, is a language based internal chatter. It is the result of brain mechanisms that allow you to “hear” yourself talk in your head. So, are you a friend to yourself? Or perhaps a “frenemy?” Or maybe a bully who has nothing but negative things to say. Think about your inner voice and how it speaks to you and how that in turn makes you feel. Turning your inner voice from a bully or frenemy to a best friend can be challenging but so worth it in the end!
The first step is to recognize when your “friend” (inner voice) says negative things to you. Recognize it as a mean comment, not a fact about your or anyone else. This may be challenging but do not worry, it is all a part of the process. As you start to monitor your inner voice, you may notice there is more negative statements than you were ever aware of. Once you start this process, you can begin challenging your inner voice. This can sound like, “no, I am not lazy, I am just tired and it’s okay for me to take a break.” After you have gotten the hang of challenging your “bad friend” (negative inner voice), you can introduce your positive inner voice a.k.a. your new best friend. This can sound like, “wow, you look so great in that outfit” or “you didn’t get it this time, but that’s okay you’ll definitely get it next time.” Think of how great it feels to have a friend love and support you. Think of the friend you need in your life and be that friend to yourself through your inner voice. A “good friend” (positive inner voice) cheers you on, believes in you, and forgives you when you mess up. A “good friend” (positive inner voice) hypes you up and celebrates all your successes, big or small. A “good friend” (positive inner voice) lets you know you can do something even though it is scary, challenging, or intimidating and is there for you with love and support if you fail. A “good friend” (positive inner voice) appreciates your authentic self and encourages you to be yourself. Being a good friend to yourself takes practice and commitment to the process, but you will be amazed at how many positive influences it has on your life.