Treat Yourself like a Friend (Highlighted Practice)

Paul SpurzemHighlighted Practice

This post is part of a series of highlighted practices from the Visionaria curriculum for “personal and civic development” classrooms in Peru.

Treat Yourself like a Friend

We tend to be very critical of ourselves and internalize our failures. It’s good to be honest with ourselves, but we also need to recognize that we are stuck with ourselves, and we should support ourselves at least as much as we criticize ourselves. Research shows that a ratio of around 5 positive comments to every 1 negative comment is key to maintaining a positive attitude among coworkers, and the performance advantage that comes with it. We can take this experimental evidence as a prompt to look at how we talk to and criticize ourselves. We need to learn from our mistakes, but are we giving criticism in a constructive way that keeps us positive? Are we giving ourselves the right ratio of positive to negative feedback we need to perform?


10-20 minutes

  1. Open up your personal notebook and take 3 minutes to think and write about “What it means to be someone’s friend: … ” — What qualities to you look for in a friend? 
  2. Continue in your personal notebook and take 3 minutes to think and write about “How I show support for my friends when they make a mistake: …” 
  3. Think about when you make a mistake, do you show yourself the same type of support? What is the first thing that you tell yourself when you make a mistake, is it helpful?
  4. On a new page in your notebook, take 5-10 minutes to write a letter to the most important person in your life, YOURSELF. You can write anything you want, just make sure that you write like you would to a friend that you care about deeply.