Have you ever noticed how it’s sooooooo easy to give advice to your friends and family when they’re puzzled with something in their life, or even going through a challenging time? Family, loved ones, colleagues… it’s so easy to look into their situation from the outside and spot opportunities for them to do something differently, or simply to show them where they can be nicer to themselves or prioritise themselves more in the process.
When we’re in it, we’re in it, right? We’ve put on the necessary glasses in our life to focus on whatever that particular thing is that’s going on for us. And as a result, all we see is tinted through that particular lens. And in turn, that lens becomes our (temporary) reality. So when someone puts something else out to us, we struggle to see it showing up through our lens, we’ve become accustomed to our own view of our reality and so used to wearing the glasses we forgot we put them on in the first place.
What we know really well about our minds these days is that our thoughts do not equal ‘us’. If we think we’re not intelligent, this does not necessarily make it true. We have this innate ability to shape the world into a representation that makes sense to us. For example, if we’ve both travelled to the same city before and are describing what we saw – the two descriptions may very much be very different. I might say the city is light and bright, you might say it is a noisy and busy place… our individual perceptions do not make something ‘real’. I might say the people are friendly, you might say they are rude. Neither is necessarily a ‘fact’ or ‘reality’, it’s a perception of how we have filtered the information through our lens and created some meaning around it
Perception is not reality.
Which is why, when we’re listening in to our friends’ situations, we’ve got our own glasses on. We’ve got a different lens to theirs, so we naturally see things differently. So how can we use this to our advantage then?
Given that when we’re sharing our insights with friends they come with love and compassion, often gently telling our friends they’re doing great, to hang in there, or that whatever they’re thinking or feeling is totally okay. I wonder what would happen if we were to do just that for ourselves? If we were to extend the same level of love and compassion to ourselves. Because, well, we already have evidence that we can do it. (We just did it for our friend). So it’s not a matter of technical ability. Why wouldn’t we use our lens in the same way we use it for others?
What would shift instantly in your life right now, if you were to apply what I like to call ‘The Best Friend Test’ to your situation. That is, asking yourself the question:
What would I say to my best friend right now?
Then go ahead and say it!!
Give it a go. Get curious about all the different ways to reach out and support your friends and loved ones. What you would literally say to them in those moments and then return the favour to yourself.
Who is that best friend who constantly tells you that everything will be okay and that you’re doing great? Send them a note of gratitude today and share this post with them so they too can extend the kindness to themselves.