Six years ago I suddenly realized one day that I didn’t know how to be a very good friend to myself. I realized that I had problems trusting or supporting myself. One consequence of this was that I said a lot of unkind and discouraging things to myself regularly throughout the day.
The Mean Little Voice in Our Head
For example, I have spent a lot of my life telling myself “You can’t do X” (X = a certain activity or ability) or “You are not good at X”. As a result of this, I had developed a lot of beliefs over the years about things I could and could not do. Maybe you have a mean little voice inside your head, too.
One of the beliefs I developed was that I was not very good at endurance activities. I have always admired people who could do physical activities like long-distance walking, running, or biking. I even had a desire to do things like this, but that mean little voice in my head kept saying, “You’re not good at that.”
And it is no surprise, with this persistent voice in my head, that I have lacked the confidence to try these things.
Much to my surprise, this all began to change when I learned to be a better friend to myself.
Becoming A Supportive Friend To Ourselves
When I realized I did not know how to be a friend to myself, I decided that I would become the kindest, most supportive friend that I could be.
It has been a long process of learning how to do it. It entailed learning to do things like the following (you can read posts on all of these at these links):
All of these healing practices helped to build my confidence and heal my relationship with myself. I healed the mean voice in my head because, honestly, that mean voice was Me and needed to understand that I was worthy of love and could be kind to myself.
Healing my relationship with myself is still a work in progress, of course, but I am definitely getting better.
Recently, I had another breakthrough…
A Big Breakthrough
I realized that for a lot of my life, I tended to view myself in a rather static manner. I thought that I was either good at something or I wasn’t. I either had a certain positive quality or I didn’t.
Because of this, I often struggled with trying or with sticking with new activities when I felt like I wasn’t good at them. (What’s the use? I thought. I’m not good at this.)
This started to change one day when I contrasted how I speak to my students and how I speak to myself (I have been a teacher for over twenty years).
One of the main things I teach students is writing, and I have realized over the years that students have a lot of writing anxiety. They often tend to believe that either they are good at writing or they are not and that if they can’t just sit down and bang out a brilliant essay in an hour or so, they are a failure at writing.
One of my main goals is to help students understand that all of them are natural writers in that they all have the natural desire and ability to communicate and make their ideas clear to others.
So, writing isn’t something they are good at or not good at. It is a natural ability we encourage by breaking writing down into little steps and practicing it a little at a time. I try to help them become curious and adventurous about the process of writing, much like a little child is naturally curious and adventurous about expressing herself.
And this process is often really helpful with healing students’ writing anxiety and giving them confidence to write.
One day I thought to myself, what if I took this same philosophy towards the activities I want to do but believe I am not good at?
What if instead of believing I am either good at something or I am not, I said to myself, “You’re a natural”, and I became curious and adventurous about these activities. What if I realized I have all of these natural capacities I can develop if I want to, and I approached them with a spirit of play? (You can read more about curiosity here and more about fostering loving habits here and here.)
I could feel my attitude turn in an exciting direction when I adopted this attitude. I wrote two posts about this shift. You can read about it in these articles:
Little did I realize how much these attitude changes would affect my life in a positive way, but before I get to that, let me tell you about my friend Jack.
Jack Helps People Become Everyday Superheroes
My friend, Jack, is amazing. He is a personal trainer, and he helps people believe in themselves and become everyday superheroes. (You can read more about Jack’s exercise philosophy here and you can also read more about his work at the end of this post—you might decide you want to work with him.)
Recently, he and my husband organized a strength showcase event called Everyday Superheroes in which all sorts of people, of all ages, men and women, could come and showcase the strength capacities they had been developing.
This was not a competitive event, and none of the folks were professional athletes. But! they were incredibly strong and lifted amazing amounts of weight, just because they had been practicing it, little by little, a step at a time. They had truly become everyday superheroes.
And this is Jack’s exercise philosophy: Exercise is not something we do to punish ourselves or make ourselves smaller. (Sometimes exercise can lead to us becoming smaller, but that is not its main purpose.) Exercise is a practice we do to make ourselves more powerful and strong in our bodies. It is a way we show ourselves love. When approach exercise in this way, everyone can become an everyday superhero.
That day, while watching these folks BE everyday superheroes, a light went on in my mind.
I suddenly realized that I have the ability to do great things—whether they are physical, emotional, spiritual, or other activities. You do, too. I connected this to my new attitude: I am a natural. Being a superhero is natural for me. It is natural for you, too. It is something I just work on a little bit at a time, and it is a way I show myself love.
This is one of my favorite sayings of Jack.
And That’s When the Walking Began
That strength showcase event was a tipping point for me. I started walking because I wanted to feel really powerful in my body and develop my natural everyday superhero abilities.
This was in May, and at first I had problems walking two miles because of some breathing problems and also some tight muscles. I worked on those problems, and suddenly I began walking more. (You can read about this here and here.)
First, I walked four miles. I was really excited.
And then I walked six miles, and that felt like such an accomplishment. Before that day, I could count on one hand the number of times I had walked six miles in my life.
And then one day I walked four miles in the morning and then four more at night. I couldn’t believe I had walked eight miles.
This is me and my feelings about walking.
And then Monday…
Monday I walked six miles in the morning, and suddenly I realized, “Whoa…I have four more miles in me.” So I walked four more miles in the evening.
I walked ten miles that day.
I was ecstatic. I felt like I had become an everyday superhero and had become a long-distance athlete, which I had always dreamed about doing but struggled believing I could actually do.
And I’m still walking, too. (Stay tuned for more adventures.)
How Did This All Happen?
Walking ten miles is definitely symbolic to me. There were a lot of different things that got me to the point where I had the confidence to walk ten miles, but the most important thing that helped me was learning to be a good friend to myself, which helped me to trust in my abilities and to support myself. It is this trust, support, and friendship that walking ten miles symbolizes for me.
I am so grateful for all the loving people I have in my life and for all the encouragement they have given me and still do. But I also realize how important it has been for me to learn to love and support myself.
I think when we learn how to do that, we all become everyday superheroes.
Follow-up questions and activities:
- If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on social media.
- How have you learned to be a better friend to yourself? How has it brought healing into your life?
- What is one thing you can do to be a better friend to yourself right now?
- What is an activity you want to do but feel unconfident about doing? How can you start to think supportive thoughts that encourage yourself in this area? How you break the activity down into smaller parts or steps and practice them consistently?
- Did you know you can work with my friend, Jack online? He works with clients from all over and in July, he is selling his guide Make Muscles Happen that is filled with detailed instructions and training videos that will help you get started in weight training and developing your own Everyday Superhero abilities. I got this guide the last time he made it available, and it is so good.
You can follow him on his FB page here:https://www.facebook.com/coachjackxtaylor/
You can also sign up for his newsletter and his guide here: