When our lives are difficult, as they often are when we have a chronic illness, having a caring, compassionate, understanding friend can be tremendously helpful. A friend can give us hugs, and when we need it, a shoulder to cry on. A friend like that can be the difference between getting through difficult times or just giving up.
Everyone I have talked to about this has told me they know how much of a difference having a friend during difficult times in our lives makes, because they have experienced that difference for themselves. I’m sure you have too.
But not everyone has a friend like that. And even if we are lucky enough to have such a friend, it’s very likely that there will be times when we need caring and understanding, but our friend isn’t available to give it to us. Fortunately, if we don’t have a friend like that, or we do but he or she isn’t available, there is something we can do – something that very few people know about: we can be that kind of a friend for ourselves.
The reason we can do that is because as human beings, we are innately caring and compassionate. Without even thinking about it, we care about injured pets and other animals. And we have compassion for our children, friends, and partners when they are facing or going through difficult challenges. All we need to do to be the caring, compassionate, understanding friend that we need is to direct those innate qualities to ourselves.
We can do that in many ways. For example, we can by give ourselves hugs, and we can tell the person in the mirror how much we care about him or her. Doing that may feel strange and awkward at first, but over time it feels less and less so. And I know from watching my clients, as well as from my own life, that the difference being a caring, compassionate, understanding friend to ourselves makes is immense. So I strongly encourage you to be that kind of a friend to yourself.