I Am My Own Best Friend,
Best Coach and Mentor
Friendship is a mutual thing. To make a great friend you need to learn to be a great friend. Once you and your mind have developed a true friendship then more friends will attracted by those qualities built during the process.
Below are some characteristics of friends and ways to make friends with your own mind and with others.
It’s hard to be friends with someone you don’t know. Get close to your mind so you can really get to know it. A good friend knows us better than we know ourselves and uses that knowledge to tactfully guide us.
* Talk to your mind often and listen carefully to it as well. How else will you get to know it. One way this process can work is to talk to your mind (e.g., make comments, ask questions, mull a subject over, logically process, etc.) and tune into what pops out of it (e.g., thoughts, feelings, memories, calculations, answers and insights). If you have a strong imagination, another approach Napoleon Hill recommends is the invisible counselor technique (see link 1 and link 2).
* To make more friends keep adding to your acquaintance list. Increase the number of acquaintances you know and go the second mile to make friends with the best of them. Make an effort or nothing will happen.
* Don’t be a stranger. Make yourself accessible. Join groups. Talk to strangers and help them feel comfortable. Purposefully spend more time with good people.
* Develop & share interests. Sharing time and common interests together has always been one of the best ways to get to know acquaintances better.
* Go out of your way to be a good companion. Think about the companions you like and model yourself after them. Take every opportunity to be considerate and helpful, to be a good friend yourself.
* Remember names. Remember and use names often to let people know that you think they are important.
Know thyself. Keenly watch the thoughts and feelings playing out in your mind in order to become aware of the ways it is pulling & pushing you and where they will eventually lead. Tactfully helping your mind become more aware of the “truth” is one of the best contributions you can give to your mind friend.
For example, when you suddenly notice a thought or feeling which doesn’t benefit you then tell your mind very sweetly not to think of it next time. Keep gently repeating this suggestion until the mind eventually responds. Gentle consistency is much more effective than harsh force and avoids harmful side effects.
* Closely watch with interest. No intense effort is required. Insight & understanding are the natural results of watching your mind’s activities with interest.
* Be a great coach and watch your mind play the game of life. Be the positive, calm, patient, wise observer at the helm of the ship.
* Several times a day stop and step aside to get a quick outsider’s overview of what your mind is doing. This outsider’s viewpoint is especially valuable to your mind.
* Be a detective. Be curious. Experiment, hypothesize, test, watch keenly for subtle clues, patterns and details others miss.
* Particularly look for unconscious beliefs, habits and feelings. These lurk below the conscious surface but you can still see traces of them. So, tune in. They are rich with opportunities for unexpected self improvement.
* The more keenly you watch the more you’ll start seeing the subtleties of how your mind works. This will make your watching even more fascinating and productive.
* Do a quick flyby to see what’s going on before getting involved in the next big move. Then quickly list the next 1-2 steps to concentrate on. During the steps write down quick notes as needed for future reference. Afterwards note what went well, something we often miss in our rush to criticize ourselves.
* Carefully watch what you say. Once you become aware of what you are saying your verbal comments are something you can consciously control.
* Also watch your nonverbal communication. According to the work of Dr. Albert Mehrabian actual words are only 7% of what a listener perceives; the way words are delivered (tone, accents, body language, etc.) account for 38% and facial expressions account for 55%.
* Don’t get trapped into believing that your thoughts & feelings are “you” and thus can’t be changed. A good way to objectify them is to name them and then study them like you would any other external object.
* Study your friends and heroes as well as yourself. Make it a hobby. What are their likes, strengths and habits? How do they differ from other people? What are their habitual reactions to various triggers? Why are they your friends? Which of the friendship characteristics do they exemplify most? How can you use their best characteristics as a practical model?
We like our friends and they like us the way we are. Often this is the primary filtering criteria though it definitely should not be the only one.
* Smile. Smiling at other people is one of the easiest most effective ways to get them to like you. Even dogs seem to know this … they smile by wagging their tails.
* Be a good companion, pleasant and easy to get along. Make your friends feel liked and comfortable whenever you see an opportunity.
A good friend is respectful and worthy of respect, someone we admire from whom we can learn.
* Make being polite and considerate a habit. This is an easy way to show respect to others and to demonstrate your proper upbringing.
* Start by working on respecting yourself the way you already are. Then start doing what it takes to be worthy of even more self respect.
A feeling of safety is fundamental to good friendships. A true friend is trustworthy and wants the best for us. Start by consistently being a person of your word so that your own mind will start trusting you.
A true friend is always there for us when needed, through thick and thin. Feeling safe and loved frees up the emotional resources necessary to really flourish. On the other hand, someone who hurts us is no friend at all but rather someone to be avoided.
Have fun. Practice enjoying being with your mind and thinking about things together. Notice how being with good friends magically helps to create special moments in your life.
Your mind can be a friend with whom you can savor the goodness of life. Whenever you are alone, don’t think yourself as alone. Instead remember that your mind is always with you and talk to your mind about whatever you are feeling that moment. Discuss what you like and want out of life and how to get more of it. Your mind friend will then start coming up with good ideas to help you make life better.
We all want to be important, needed and appreciated. We desperately want others to recognize that we exist.
Practice making your appreciation verbal and explicit. Appreciate out loud when your mind does something you like. Your mind also needs to hear, as often as possible, how much you appreciate it.
Learning to explicitly appreciate the good in our lives can lift up our entire attitude over time. Here are a few practical exercises to help make this happen:
* What Went Well lists: These are running lists of what went well during your day. At the least make strong, clear mental notes to yourself. Making a point of each item is very important so that they actually make a memorable impression on your mind.
* Smile to yourself: Quickly smile every time you run across something you like or feel grateful about even if it is very small. E.g., smile when your mind does something well, smile when you see a nice view, etc. Do this dozens of times a day.
* Appreciate the half full portion of your “glass.” Make a big deal of the good portions of life and minimize the often inconsequential bad portions. A related idea is to realize that the time available for the positive people in your life is limited so don’t waste time on negative people; certainly don’t worry about them if they don’t appreciate you.
* Three Gratitudes exercise: A classic exercise is to list three things you are grateful for at the end of each day. A variation is to list the three things that most uplifted you. What these exercises do is to tune you in to more of the good things in life which you would otherwise not really notice.
We could all use an enthusiastic, loyal cheerleader who wants us to do well, cheers our best efforts and accepts us the way we are. What we don’t need is nitpicking and fault finding; these bad habits only discourage your mind and stunt its development.
Compliment your mind friend and mean it. Keep looking for positives that deserve a compliment and explicitly verbalize them; a true compliment has big impact! If in doubt always lean positive and make the compliment anyway.
Encourage positives and good possibilities whenever you see even the slightest sign of them. Encouraging positives makes them more obvious to your mind which will increase its confidence and self esteem.
Attention is fundamental to human survival and anything we do, verbal or nonverbal, acknowledging the existence of another is called a “stroke“ in transactional analysis. It turns out that the ratio of positive strokes to negative strokes received is critical to friendships. Research suggests that once positive strokes consistently exceed negative strokes (by a ratio of 3:1 or 6:1 in other studies) then there is a breakthrough effect and the relationship will take off in a positive direction. So, generously give positive unconditional strokes, like a quick smile, to your own mind. Also, when you notice yourself giving your mind negative strokes immediately swamp them out with several positive strokes.
Even in the Mafia loyalty is a top requirement. Personal safety is critical in a friendship too. Also see trust.
Make a habit of looking for little ways to uplift others. Using your strengths to be truly helpful is one of the best ways to make friends. Someone we can trust to provide us support even in a crisis is rare and worthy of much consideration. Talk is cheap so when you are having problems is a good time to learn who your true friends are.
Emotional support is as important as physical support. We need friends who empathize with us and are ready, willing and able to emotionally support us when needed. Be kind, patient, understanding, compassionate to your mind friend.
The less judgmental you are the better your mind will perform, the more cooperative and harmonious it will be. Don’t expect yourself or others to be perfect. You and every other human being has limitations and problems, visible and invisible, big and small. Petty judging of such limitations stings emotionally and can cause large negative side effects over time. It certainly doesn’t make the situation better.
Be aware that you are separate from the thoughts and physical sensations that pop up from your unconscious mind. If you witness them without judgment and avoid feeding negative thoughts undue attention then most will dissolve on their own.
Don’t compare, don’t disparage, don’t make excuses. When you or your mind make a mistake be kind. The goal is continuous improvement, not perfection.
Watch for how your mind plays around with various thoughts and feelings and never allow your mind to droop. Drooping is natural since our feelings naturally go up and down over time. So, quickly catch those inevitable droops early on to keep them from running amok. This article contains several suggestions for what to do when you see a droop coming.
* Being positive is a choice especially during the inevitable downs in life. No situation can make you unhappy unless you agree to become unhappy.
* just SMILE every chance you get. How’s that for a simple start at being positive. It’s practical and works.
* Act As If. Feelings definitely follow actions. Take advantage of this scientific fact by acting positive and self confident even if you don’t initially feel like it.
* Start carefully watching your self talk. Start noticing what pops out from your subconscious. Replace and swamp out the unconscious negative self talk most of us naturally over emphasize. If a positive self talk pops up then smile and make a mental note of it; this is a good sign that your subconscious is working to help you out.
* Feed your mind purposeful positive self talk in large, conscious, consistent doses.
* Spend 10 minutes in the evening thinking about what uplifted your life and spirit that day. By studying the way your mind works you can actually learn to use your mind to lift your mind.
Take the helm of your own life. Don’t just drift, one of the deadliest of sins. Beware of indifference which stops your progress in life by paralyzing your willpower. If you don’t know where you are going then you’ll eventually end up in a bad place. If you don’t know what you want then others will use you to get what they want.
For example, if you have bad habit then whenever you see it getting started tell your mind very sweetly not to continue. Clarify to your mind the negative costs of the habit. Even so you will likely be tempted to do it again. When that happens keep persistently telling your mind until it eventually listens, if not this time then the next.
By consciously working to control your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions you can actually change your physical brain and its default mode of operation. This makes the time and effort really worth while.
* Affirmation: positive open alert ready and in control (POARC). This affirmation reminds you of the attitude you need to maintain to help you increasingly control your mind and to see opportunities.
* Focus 100% of your effort on controlling the controllables. For example, don’t throw away energy by worrying about things you can’t control … or the past or future. What some sport coaches suggest to players is that after making a mistake they should say “next play” and shift their complete focus to it.
Progress is one of the fundamental needs for human happiness. We are built to learn and grow and to always want more! Your mind is “someone” who understands and wisely guides you. It can become a worthy companion who will work together with you to progress towards the life you really desire.
Even when you “fail” you can make progress by learning something from the experience. In fact how to learn from failure and how to overcome resistance are necessary skills you must learn if you want to make serious progress in life.
Here is a good habit that will sharpen your mind and increase progress every day: Make mental notes of the most important 1-3 things you learned each time you read or do something. Repeat the points immediately afterward you finish and a couple of minutes later to make them stick.
One thing I’ve noticed when interviewing prospective employees is that it is usually easy to tell if a person is a natural giver or a natural taker. You can sometimes tell if they are naturally positive as well. Good friends are natural givers and are naturally positive with each other.
While what you receive from a friendship is not the key criteria you still need to be aware that some people will try to take unfair advantage of you. So, use common sense when dealing with natural takers. In a good friendship both participants should be consistently giving and taking, as appropriate, to their mutual benefit. By the way, one of the benefits of a friendship is the good feeling experienced when you make an important contribution to your friend.
Note that the suggestions above work well for making friends with others and for making best friends with your own mind. Try the ones you like the most. Here are our current favorites: watching, positive strokes, smiling to self and the what went well exercise.