On Being A Friend To Yourself

Irene Chu
3 min readApr 30, 2021

Welcome back, kindred spirits.

In this post, I want to explore the meaning of being a friend to yourself.

Seneca wrote, “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”

I have wrestled with this idea for quite some time now because this thought is incredibly subjective, and so everyone has their own opinion of what it means to be a friend to yourself. Until recently, I really struggled to form my own opinion as I often found myself on extreme ends of thinking depending on my state of being.

It’s becoming increasingly common in our current culture to see articles, social media posts, videos, and podcasts address topics on self-care and self-love. Conventional advice on self-care and self-love tend to gravitate towards actions and thoughts such as:

  • Embrace your flaws
  • Enjoy your own company
  • Permit yourself to feel things
  • Be more forgiving to yourself
  • Indulge in retail therapy
  • Don’t work too hard or too much
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Be kinder to yourself

…you get the gist.

The above actions and thoughts are valid and essential ways to be a friend to yourself. My intention is not to dispute any of the conventional self-care and self-love advice because I recognize its importance in maintaining our physical, mental and emotional well-being. I merely wish to explore an alternate perspective on these ideas of being a friend to yourself, self-care and self-love.

Perhaps, being a friend to yourself is being hard on yourself.

When I say this, I am by no means advocating for this ‘hustle culture’ that is toxic and unhealthy.

Rather being hard on yourself is…

  • Having personal accountability
  • Holding yourself to a higher standard
  • Being self-critical and not letting yourself off the hook
  • Delaying immediate gratification for delayed gratification
Irene Chu

I ghostwrite Educational Email Courses for health and wellness founders | Get daily insights to build your happiness muscles: https://irenechu.substack.com/