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When I ponder the one thing we each need to be daringly alive, I always come back to befriending ourselves. It’s the foundation for everything – relationships, creative expression, bringing our gifts to the world, everything.

You can still accomplish huge feats and make piles of money and inspire millions without befriending yourself but you won’t enjoy much of it. You’ll be like a dog with her nose pressed against the glass. On the other side is peace and fulfillment and lots of good Frisbee throws. You can see it, you can hear it, but you can’t quite feel it.

At the core of you resides a natural warmth, a capacity to love, and a wellspring of succulent tenderness. Nothing can change that. When you make it your commitment to touch that goodness and experience it – rather than believe in it as some kind of abstract – your ability to be in this life and to be of service—expands beyond belief.

You do that by unconditionally, unflinchingly (okay, go ahead and flinch but then come back) acceptance of your experience. It’s a clear-eyed powerful love of you and what life brings you. It might include things like meditation, setting good boundaries, getting enough rest, retreats, time in nature (because it’s pretty darn difficult to befriend yourself when you’re in tatters), but you can’t stop there. If you do, you don’t end up gaining in inner strength, you only end up protecting your own comfort.

Here are two favorite befriending practices:

Take a few moments to imagine you are can be nourished by something larger than yourself. Nature, god, love, anything that is not you, breathe that force in, imagine it filling you up, like the most delish meal or warm golden sunshine. If your logical mind says, “Bull,” ask it, “Did I make gravity that is holding me to the earth? The oxygen I am breathing? I am part of the larger whole, I am always supported and I can consciously draw on that support to befriend myself.” Relax into life.

Embrace your Experience
Each time you deny what you are feeling or thinking or judge it as “bad,” you reinforce the idea you can’t be trusted, that you aren’t somehow good.

For example, I made a stupid business mistake recently, a mistake I have made many times before. I can grit my teeth, chastise myself and eat a bag of cookies or I can pause and be with what I am experiencing. Do it with me right now. Stop making anything about this moment, or you, wrong. Breathe in your feelings, any sensations in your body, your thoughts acknowledge them. Then exhale and create some spaciousness for your experience. Ahh….

Inspiration will flow from you like champagne at a wedding when you meet yourself as beloved. Let us befriend ourselves so we can befriend the world—and have a blast doing it.

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Jen Louden is a personal growth pioneer who help launch the self-care movement with her first book, The Woman's Comfort Book. She's the author of five more books on well-being and personal wisdom that have inspired more than a million women in 9 languages. Jen has been a national columnist, a radio show host, a spokeswoman for companies like Real Networks and SC Johnson, and sat on Oprah's couch. She mentors creative people who want to change the world to get to it. She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all. She's currently writing two books and maintains a popular blog at and teaches retreats throughout the country. 

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Thank you so much. I’ve always been a natural leader and energizer but sometimes I get down on myself when I feel tired and lonely due to having to make hard decisions that won’t make everyone happy but I know it’s the best decision. I start feeling like the bitch or bad guy and I just want to belong and be a part of the group. I want to be nurtured and supported too. This helped me to see I have been very hard on myself and not much of a friend to myself. Even as you said questioning my capabilities and gifts. This article as so many do came just at the perfect time. Thanks again!

  2. Good morning Jennifer,

    I do believe I’ll eat that bag of cookies, ha ha, just a little holiday humor. You see I went on a WFPB diet a few years ago and I’m never looking back. The diet combined with exercise and yoga and I feel great at 59 yrs.
    Great post and I’ll take your advice to heart because it is a huge stumbling block in my life to not totally love and accept myself at all times.

    Have a great holiday season and much blessings to you and your readers.

    With love and gratitude,
    Michael Stilinovich

  3. Jen – delightful to see you in this column. Thanks for the nurturing reminders. I like to remember this exercise: exhale the negative energy and inhale what is positive, caring, and filled with possibility. Years ago I learned this acronym: IA:LAC meaning I am lovable and capable.

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