What Would You Say to a Friend?

Photo: Katelyn Woodburn

One of my favorite activities happens to be beating myself up. I’m sure you’ve done it too, you know, where you give yourself a blow-up bat and mentally hit yourself around. It’s brutal, right? Especially if you feel like you need to come back for round two.

There’s something in us that convinces us to accept the negative things we tell ourselves. If we’re sitting on the fence, wondering if we’re truly good enough to accept wonderful things coming our way or if, in fact, we don’t deserve these wonderful things because we’re not worth it. Fighting the voice in your head is hard, and it gets harder the more you start to believe it.

It’s hard to follow advice we give to others when it would benefit us. It’s hard to convince yourself you are good enough, you are worthy, you are capable. The little voice is very convincing, almost like it’s wishing for you to fail. Self-talk is ongoing, a constant reminder of the conversation you’re having with yourself day-to-day.

I want to know why we talk to ourselves like this, when we would never talk to a friend like that. I want to know what makes it OK to tell ourselves we’re not good enough, or we didn’t try hard enough, or maybe the rail you dropped in your over-fences class was because you caught your horse in the mouth instead of the blatantly obvious: he was being lazy.

There are times I catch myself wondering if my friends don’t want to hang out with me, or maybe I wonder if my boyfriend will lose patience and decide he doesn’t want our relationship anymore because I may be difficult. His reassurance that no, I’m not difficult, isn’t always enough to put an end to my ruminating; it’s more that his reassurance creates a pause. Until I wonder again.

I found myself on the phone with a friend last night. She wanted advice on how to move forward with her relationship, how to stop pushing him away. I heard myself tell her wonderful, supportive things relating to her ability to love him, care for him, and to work things out. But if it were me on her end of the phone? I would doubt every word she said to me, and I would believe myself at fault.

We reassure our friends they’re doing OK. They’re loved, they’re capable. They’re good riders and their horses love them. Yet, most of us don’t do this for ourselves. There’s all sorts of suggestions out in the great big world that encourage us to find ourselves, to find peace in who we are. But we can’t do that if we’re talking to ourselves like we’re an enemy to happiness.

I want to know why we talk to ourselves like this, when we would never talk to a friend like that. At the end of the day, we have ourselves and we should treat ourselves better. Even if that’s taking a moment to say a long goodbye to our horse before leaving the barn. Even if it’s taking a walk up the driveway as an end to a great ride to reward ourselves for the work we’ve put in.

Be a friend to yourself. Stop blowing up the balloon bat and beating yourself up with it, because the advice you give is often advice you need yourself. Please be nice to yourself, and remember: if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, why would you say it to yourself?

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