Be a real friend to yourself. When a friend stings you with their words, you’ve just received helpful insight that a thousand hours with a therapist won’t equal

Be A Friend To Yourself – A Real One

Be a friend to yourself. A real one. Photo showing real friends having honest discussion.
Real friends appreciate honest support that comes from the willingness to offer even painful truths. (Adobe Stock image: licensed by author)

# 59 on my, 99 Life Tips – A List is: Do not tolerate behavior in yourself that you would not support and respect in a friend.

Do your friends ever seek your advice with their problems? If so, do you tell them what you know they want to hear? Or do you tell them what you believe they need to hear? 

There is a Proverb that speaks to this issue:

”Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern], But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda].”

~Proverbs 27:6 (Amplified Bible)

Which begs the question, what is a friend?

Real friendship implies the permission to say (and listen to) the hard things…to tell (and hear) the truth. 

This excludes 99.9% of your social media followers.

Admittedly, there are even RL relationships that don’t meet this standard. We may call those people ”friends”, but they’re not really friends. Not in any meaningful way. You can tell if someone is a friend by what you tolerate, and what you respect. You may hang out with someone you don’t respect, but you sure as hell won’t solicit their advice on anything important. And you can also gauge the quality of the relationship by their openness to your input and advice.

Friends offer each other correction and constructive criticism. Even if it stings. No, especially when it stings. You tell your friend the hard things because you love them. You ”wound” them with your words because you are concerned about the course they are on. Your silence could lead to worse wounds than your words could ever cause. To remain silent, or to offer encouragement, would not only be un-friendly, it would border on the actions of an enemy.

Think of the last time you had the opportunity to faithfully wound a friend. Did you tell your friend the truth? Even if it was a hard truth? If you did, you are a true friend, and one of life’s most valuable treasures. After all, we can get enemies to tell us what we want to hear. But, when a friend stings you with their words, you’ve just received helpful insight that a thousand hours with a therapist won’t equal. Hopefully this is what you did, and it was received in the spirit in which you offered it.

If you didn’t speak up, or felt you couldn’t; or you did, and it was brushed off, rebutted, and refuted, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. Is it really a friendship, or is it something less. More than an acquaintance, perhaps, but less than a friend…far less.

Take the medicine you would offer

Using this framework, apply the same approach to any problems for which you need advice, and to any areas where you suspect you have flaws you won’t ignore in people you care about.

If a friend brought you these issues, what would you say? To one in the same situation, would you offer truth? Or, would you be mere acquaintance? Would your silence or your appeasing words amount to the kisses of an enemy? 

Can you follow the same advice, and take the same medicine, however hard, you would offer your friend if the roles were reversed? 

Granted, there are issues we can’t see clearly for ourselves. So I’m not suggesting that self-diagnosis, or self-care is always enough. It’s not. Some issues require another ”set of eyes”. Our so-called blind spots, for instance, are impossible to see alone. But sometimes, we indulge and excuse behaviors we would never support or respect if a friend did the same. 

”Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” comes to mind. But that’s not all those who care about each other won’t let each other do.

Be a friend to yourself, and fill in the blank with anything and everything in your life you know you would never let a friend do without speaking up and trying to stop it. Now, as hard as it may be, take your own advice. Remember, faithful are the wounds of a friend.

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