top of page

How To Befriend Yourself – The Art Of Appreciation

Written by: Ciara Jean Roberts, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The ancient wisdom of honouring life though an embodied practise of gratitude ‒ can easily get lost, diluted and distorted, in a mainstream vernacular. You know, like yelling at your kids how grateful they should be instead of instilling in them a sense of quiet reverence for life.

Ah a complex equation, right?!

I was having this conversation around gratitude a couple of years ago with a good friend. Sipping black coffee at an outside table of a south London cafe. He’s an experienced anaesthetist in a very crazy NHS (the UK national health system). At a time when the rota being handed out was so punishing, there was a cry back from the team to re-do it.

Literally their plea was ‘This will kill us.’

Thankfully (there’s our gratitude) it was passed onto another set of wiser hands and re-done. Rota is an art in hospitals ‒ you’re time managing many different lives under often very pressured circumstances.

‘What are you grateful for?’, I ask him in an attempt to help shift the focus. He almost robotically reels off a list ‒ grateful for his parents, his family, his home, his health, all very monotone, head lolling downwards ‒ and it feels like this was not a helpful enquiry at all for me to ask.

I flip the question, ‘OK, what do you appreciate about yourself?’ His tone and posture immediately shift, like a bright flame just wafted up his spine, radiating in his eyes, and without hesitation, he says,’ I’m really good in a crisis.’ And I feel it and know it my bones to be true for he has said it from such a grounded and honest place.

He continues on, sharing a recent example of when the panic alarm was activated in an operating theatre, where one of his colleagues was the attending anaesthetist. He sees the alarm, rushes to the scene and immediately spots the problem, resolves the situation and no doubt created a huge sigh of relief in his colleague.

There is a difference in gratitude and appreciation. Both have their value. And also how these practises are about both self-realisation, which can feel very lofty and abstract, and embodiment.

The earthiness of our bones, The pulsation of our circulation, our heart-beat, our breath. We have to feel these energies in the body ‒ that is the real depth of true friendship. It opens us up to palpable belonging. To deeper listening which gets persistently over-written in this noisy world.

How does it feel to be grateful. How does it feel to be appreciated and to appreciate.

How lovely when someone we love says to us, ‘I really appreciate you.’ Feels good doesn’t it?

As opposed to ‘I f**king hate you ‒ I heard a mother say to her young toddler child passing by. If we grew up in difficulty and barbed words, the layers of protection can bury any sense of feeling safe. It needs cultivating like any garden needs both weeding and pruning. On an ongoing and seasonally sensitive basis.

So be gentle. Bear witness to what blocks you feeling grateful, for feeling appreciative.

How to begin?

Find ways to get into your body ‒ movement, breathing, stretching, cold water, hot water, suck on a lemon, roar out a frustration, laugh until you cry, punch a pillow ‒ something to release the blocks within. To feel.

This is befriending yourself. Feeling whats asked to be felt.

As Brene Brown says, ‘If you’re looking for proof that you’re not good enough, you’re always going to find it.’ So look elsewhere. Within. And from that place of inward contemplation, trust your intuition to explore the next step.

This is a very layered, nuanced process for each person. Change happens in increments and isn’t always immediately obvious. Don’t give up.

We start to notice how our friendships change over time, over different chapters in our lives. Because we change. So the outer changes reflect those inner changes back. Everything’s a mirror. The clearer we get on who we really are, the more the crud and dross has to fall away. It simply can no longer hold.

We can always find a friend in nature too ‒ in the bark of a wise tree, in the quiet flap of a butterfly passing us by on a warm Spring day. In the beginning of a storm that ignites a wide-eyed fearful passion. That feeling of anticipation that we can transform to excitement rather than fear and anxiety.

Don’t be so scared of yourself.


What’s the skilful next step for you and your sense of befriending?

Is it coffee with a good friend? Is it a few deep breaths? Is it finding a space to shout Arrrghhhhh!!

Perhaps sitting down in front of a blank piece of paper and writing the word ‘appreciation’ just as a start. APPRECIATION. Taste it. Explore it. Embody it. Be it.

And yes it’s a process. It’s maddening, confronting, hilarious, boring… because so many limiting beliefs and blocks hold us back from this deep medicine of befriending ourselves. And indeed the willingness to befriend some form of magic. Magic is simply changing thought into form ‒ we are always creating our lives in this way…what we focus on amplifies.

Words matter.

Writing one hopeful word on that blank sheet of paper, represents a step into a new approach. A new way of being. A braveness to ask of ourselves, ‘How good of a friend am I to myself.’ And that of course will crack us open to the wider question ‒ ‘How good a friend am I to others?’

So often we are running self-sabotaging loops in our minds. And societal enculturation saturates the message of measures and models, results and mechanistic intent, which leaves us like the hungry ghost.

When our institutions are full of hungry ghosts, there is not much of a palpable real sense of friendship. As in kinship. Togetherness. Nurturing the true spirit of collaboration.

This is sacred and so rare in this age of modernity.

So take a moment to breathe into the wisdom of your body. To no longer be a tourist in this house of yours. The ultimate place of home and hearth. Your body.

And to consider with a quiet inner smile, cheeks gently lifted, what you appreciate about yourself.

And there is something. I know there is…

Do email me here and share what you appreciate. I love to hear from you.

Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!


Ciara Jean Roberts, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ciara Roberts is a writer, yoga facilitator and nutritional therapist, with a pioneering spirit to create true and lasting change across the landscapes of holistic healthcare and medicine. Founder of Wholly Aligned, an innovator, quester and cross-pollinator, borne from the lessons and adventures with her kidneys, which failed at age 14. Charting several years at a young age on dialysis, two kidney transplants and a treasure chest of tools, she is uniquely placed as an insider/outsider to effect change in the current embedded systems. Stepping away from banking in 2012, she has dedicated her life to helping others awaken their inner physician and reclaim their innate sense of wholeness.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page