Another aspect that is really important is how we are a good friend to ourselves.
Sometimes we are able to be good friends with others, but sometimes we may not be a good friend to ourselves. It may be that a friend makes a mistake or may have done something a bit foolish. We might say something, but it would rarely be harsh or overly critical. One would say something, but it would be out of care or kindness or compassion.
But if we ourselves do something unskillful or foolish, often-times we can be really harsh on ourselves. Sometimes we are not a good friend to ourselves. It’s important to know how to be a good friend to yourself as well as being a good friend to others — that sense of knowing how to encourage yourself, to support yourself in ways that allow one to be peaceful or at ease with oneself.
We can create a lot of tension out of worry or fear — and that’s not being a good friend to oneself. We wouldn’t do that to our other friends. We wouldn’t make them worry or make them really anxious. We would want to try to protect them. But oftentimes we don’t do that to ourselves.
We wouldn’t criticize our friends so much that they feel really bad. We would want to help them maybe by giving encouragement or helping them to do something better, but we wouldn’t want to hurt them. We have to learn how to do that to ourselves as well.
So learning how to be a good friend —both learning how to be a good friend to others as well as being a good friend to ourselves.
This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Like a River—The Life of a Boy Named Todd, (pdf) pp. 50-51.