Today’s food &love! hack is one task that gives us two great benefits: it’s about becoming our own best friends. Doing this enables us not just to get to know, and therefore more deeply love, ourselves, but also to be comfortable spending time alone.
Be your own buddy.
We all have spaces in our minds that are unpleasant. Our negativity sits in those spaces, and our fears, and our regrets. Sometimes we like to throw ourselves into those spaces, and to mire ourselves in aches and woes. We might sit on a park bench and let tears drip drip drip wearily onto our laps, or to curl up with Love Actually on the couch, and let it all go that way. That stuffs good, and I’m not denying it. It helps us be human, and to feel, and to live.
What can be actively harmful, however, is avoidance of those spaces. Today’s world is full of easy distractions. The internet probably the most mammoth of them all. These days, it’s so. damn. easy, if not downright impossible-not-to, keep our sincere feelings and needs tucked away beneath a layer of frenetic-world-based distraction. Feeling uneasy? No need to fret! Cat Attacks Baby on YouTube will always be there to take your mind off of it. Feeling lonely? Hulu’s got your back! Always, always.
Of course there are other means by which we can distract ourselves from the nasty things that sit within us. We can do this with social activities, parties, exercise, substance abuse– even that as innocence as caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco. One of them is of course perhaps one of the greatest common denominators among women:
One thing I hear from community members time and time again is that lonesomeness drives them to eat. There’s something existentially itchy about being alone– something that digs under our skin and sets our bones on fire. Igetit. I totally get it. It’s one of my own demons. Being alone means sitting in whatever worries or negativities we might have without help of escaping– it means not being able to drown ourselves in distractions or other people– it means looking our existential isolation square in the face, and it means sitting silently with the bare fact–awful as it may be–that we really are islands, John Donne be damned. That we really will die alone.
So we do things deliberately to distract ourselves. One is to eat. Others abound.
The way through this is to practice doing this, and to be our own friends.
We need to learn how to sit with ourselves, and how to keep ourselves company without going mad. We need to become comfortable not just with the parts of us that are charming and kick ass, but the parts of us that hurt, that are negative, that are afraid, that are human. We need to be alone and in spaces in which we are actually alone with ourselves, but not beating ourselves up or drowning in despair. It needs to be, or at least to become, companionable acceptance. And then some day joy. We need to feel out the space of the places we are avoiding in our minds. Doing this, and only doing this, can teach us the shape of that space, and help us become comfortable with it, and realize that it is not, in the end, all that scary after all.
Whatever it is that sits in us and itches, we have to become comfortable with it. This is done by becoming our own friends. By greeting that space, by sitting with it, by being in conversation with it, by not pushing it away in fear. Ways to do this might be journaling, meditating, going for long, slow walks, spending time in nature alone, joking with or singing to ourselves, or– perhaps to start, especially if we struggle with food– sitting on the couch on our hands for five minutes when lonesomeness is begging us to eat, and sitting within that space until the set time is up, or until we have learned a little bit about that space. Then we can move on and do something distracting.
So the whole point is to befriend ourselves.
It helps us be alone. It helps us be unafraid. It helps us be comfortable in our own skins, no matter what sort of unpleasantness might crawl around beneath them from time to time.
It helps us love ourselves. Everyone we befriend has positive attributes. Everyone we befriend we like just a little bit. Everyone we befriend we treat with dignity and consideration and love. Being our own friend in turn makes us treat ourselves like a friend, and to love ourselves like a friend.
It helps us have fun, and to enjoy our own company. It gives us another fighting companion in our corner; it gives us another buddy to hang out with. To delight in. To laugh at, and to dance with.
It helps up stick up for ourselves. And to hold our own hands. And to console ourselves, and to take faith and confidence and love and joy in the fact that everything is going to be okay.
And, in fact, already is okay.
Schedule some alone time! Make sure you’re doing a somewhat quiet activity that enables you to embrace and engage yourself in some way. Set time parameters if it is difficult for you, and gradually increase the length of that time throughout the course of your practice. Be quiet, and recognize the shape of your unpleasant places along with the pleasant ones. Sit with those unpleasant spaces. Resolve things if you want to. But you don’t have to. Nothing has to be resolved. You don’t expect your friends to fix all of your problems, do you? Don’t put pressure on yourself in these spaces, either.
Just sit with yourself, and learn the shapes of your brain and your heart. They are not scary. You can be in those places, and you can spend time alone, and it can be lovely, even if it takes some time.
“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”
Clarence, It’s a Wonderful Life
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