Are you on kind, friendly terms with yourself and all of your feelings? Do you want to be truly there for yourself, especially when you need yourself the most?
Befriending our whole self means kindly turning toward, instead of away from, the parts of ourselves we might dislike or feel are unacceptable, and the feelings we find it hard to be with. Finding the courage to do this enables us to see and meet ourselves more fully, with greater love and compassion, and to be more at peace and ease in ourselves.
Befriending ourselves means being friendly toward and embracing the whole of who we are, and whatever we are experiencing in this present moment, as much as we possibly can. It is loving and caring for ourselves.
At times it takes a great deal of courage to turn toward, instead of away from, the parts of ourselves we might dislike or feel are unacceptable, and the feelings we find it hard to be with. Finding the courage to do this enables us to see and meet ourselves more fully, with greater love and compassion, and to be more at peace and ease in ourselves.
We can choose to commit to being on friendly terms with all of our feelings as best we can, instead of avoiding, denying and burying uncomfortable and painful feelings and the parts of us that feel them. A very common strategy for avoiding our feelings is to numb them with addictive behaviours such as over-eating, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, over-thinking and scrolling on social media.
When we engage in these kinds of behaviours to avoid our pain, we are abandoning ourselves when we need ourselves the most. When we learn to bring warm, kind attention to our feelings, meeting them with friendliness and curiosity, we are able to be truly present with ourselves and deepen our self-intimacy. When we meet ourselves in this way, we can rest into allowing ourselves to simply be. We are less driven by the need to run away from ourselves, or endlessly try to fix or perfect ourselves in some way.
When we make a commitment to befriending our whole self, we commit to including all parts of ourselves, bringing love to the parts we don’t necessarily always like. We also commit to becoming aware of the parts of us that we may have long ago disowned and that we deny exist within us, sometimes referred to as our shadow parts. Bringing light to our shadow parts empowers us to see and meet more of ourselves, so that we can integrate them and live a more healthy, balanced and fulfilling life.
When we are small, we are extremely vulnerable because we’re completely dependent on our carers to survive, so we develop our personality in ways that maximise our chances of getting our survival needs met, e.g. food and water, loving attention, touch.
For example, we might learn that being happy and cheerful pleases mummy because she gives us praise and positive attention, so we allow ourselves to feel happy and cheerful feelings, and we show the world our happy and cheerful face. This is how we learn to get our needs met in the world.
We might also learn that showing anger displeases mummy, because she withdraws her attention and sometimes even shames us for it. So to ensure that we get our needs met, we suppress, bury and disown our anger, to the extent that we ourselves lose touch with it, and can no longer feel and access it. This can really hold us back in life because we need healthy anger (to set healthy boundaries, or make a change when something isn’t serving us, for example). So the strategy that helped us to survive when we were small, if left to run on autopilot without our conscious intervention, will now stop us from getting our needs met as an adult.
As well as disowning some of our feelings, we learn to disown the parts of us that we believe are unacceptable because of the messages we received in our early years. For example, as a child we love music and dance, but our parents think it’s a waste of time and that we should focus on academic studies, so we bury this creative part of us and excel in academia to try and secure their approval and love. We identify as being an academically capable person and believe we are not creative, or we might recognise that we are creative, but find ourselves creatively blocked, or never seeming to have the time for creative pursuits. This leaves us feeling frustrated, unfulfilled, and even lost, perhaps following a career path that doesn’t satisfy us, because we have buried a dream to live and work creatively.
Investigating parts and feelings we have lost touch with and disowned – and welcoming and reintegrating them – is a very powerful way to befriend our whole selves, find inner balance and freedom, and to fulfil our potential to live a life we truly love. Voice Dialogue is a particularly powerful tool for this.
Different ways to explore each theme
Coaching can support you to make real, lasting changes in your relationship with yourself, others and life. Sessions can be held in person or via Skype.
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Workshops for befriending your whole self
Explore your own inner world and deepen your connection with yourself in this workshop.
What is self-care? What gets in the way? Explore what it means to truly and lovingly care or yourself in this workshop.
Harmonious relationships: Stepping off the drama triangle
Learn how to step out of this common human dynamic, for your personal empowerment and more harmony in your relationships.