Richmond, VA

The Best Friend

Bill Abbate

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What makes someone a best friend? For most of us, it is someone we can trust, who does not judge us, accepts us for who we are, and genuinely cares for our good. Who doesn't want a friend like that?

The Oxford Languages dictionary is straightforward in its definition of best friend:

"a person's closest friend."

I also love what one of America's business magnates said:

"My best friend brings out the best in me." Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Have you ever thought about making friends with yourself? Why not? After all, who cares more about you than you?

Finding your best friend

Imagine having a friend who pays attention to you. Your friend recognizes your self-critical and overprotective voices - those that try to protect you when you don't need or want to be protected. This friend names them and calls them out, putting them in their place.

Your friend also sees those things that build you up, such as self-confidence, a positive attitude, the "I can do this" part of your being. Your friend calls them by name and inspires and encourages you to move forward.

When this friend hears you say to yourself, "I can't do that," or "what if I fail?" they help you see it for what it is. They point out this "stinkin thinkin" and motivate and inspire you to do what you want anyway.

Wouldn't that be a great friend, perhaps your best friend? What if this friend was with you all the time, bringing out the best in you? Wouldn't you love a friend like that?

Well, you already have this friend! It is the part of you that can "see" the best in you. It is the part of you that knows you are competent and can achieve practically anything you set your mind to. It is the part of you that cares for and loves you. Your best friend is you!

"Know that you are your greatest enemy, but also your greatest friend." Jeremy Taylor (1613-1677)

I challenge you to befriend yourself. Imagine stifling the negative voices, putting self-limiting beliefs in their place, encouragement to push through fear and follow your heart. All you must do is be aware. Let this friend help you. Listen to what it has to say.

The choice is yours. You can become your own best friend, encouraging and inspiring yourself. Or you can continue down the other path of life, remaining blind and never recognizing this part of yourself, allowing or listening to the voices that slow you down or stop you dead in your tracks. Which do you prefer?

"No man is such a conqueror, as the one that has defeated himself." Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1877)

Gratitude and appreciation

How can you develop this best friend and its internal voice of encouragement? Learn to express gratitude and appreciation. Imagine the changes in your very being when you become thankful for what you accomplish each day.

"Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for." Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)

Stop for a moment and think about an accomplishment in your life. Choose anything that gives you that feeling of being proud, though not in a boastful, prideful way.

One such accomplishment I experienced was leaving the corporate world, going back to school, and becoming a leadership coach before retiring. I am so thankful for how much pleasure and joy this accomplishment added to my life. Because I am grateful for and appreciate other people, I continue reaping the benefits of what I learned and now volunteer my time to serve fellow believers.

Think of an accomplishment that makes you feel this way. It doesn't have to be a significant achievement. If you survived a difficult period of life, you have done something great and should be proud. Think about the good this triumph brought into your life and how it has benefited you and others. Begin to do this for everything you achieve, no matter how small, and watch yourself grow!

Never forget the power of appreciation. Whenever you value something, stop to think about it and appreciate it. The more you appreciate it, the more value it will have in your eyes and the more value it brings. Whether it's your spouse, job, friends, where you live, or anything else, appreciate it! As the old saying says so well:

"What you appreciate appreciates."

And remember, the inverse is also true - what you do not appreciate depreciates. Better to appreciate than not!

Final thoughts

As you continue to grow in knowing yourself, you will reap great rewards. Accept these rewards without condemnation and with joy. Being grateful for and appreciating your achievements will put you on a different path than those who give little or no thought to taking to heart their accomplishments.

Always steer clear of appreciating yourself in a prideful or selfish way. Just be genuinely thankful for what you have done and for the dreams you hope to accomplish. If it becomes all about you and you alone, you are already lost. That is the height of immaturity, and you want to be a mature, responsible adult, do you not? Yet when you sincerely and humbly appreciate what you have already done, you open the door to achieving so much more!

Gather all the good things in your life with a heart of thankfulness and giving by serving others. Gratefulness and appreciation will help you move away from selfishness and live a selfless life. This is the life that keeps on giving and keeps on living!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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