Self-Mastery Series IV- Self-Management “Work in Progress” “This is work in Progress” Will be
It is necessary for me sometimes just to be alone and quiet and doing nothing – Charles Bukowski
Note- this article is a glimpse into my personal headspace, how I view human interactions and my responses to it. it doesn’t have to be politically correct or in line with social norms.
I honestly do not care much about those structures!
I must confess I am not one for too much human interaction, If I spend too much time with people, I feel like I’m going to explode but due to the nature of my job, familial relations and social grace I get to interact with more people than I honestly want to. This wears me out a lot more than I care to admit. If telepathy was an acceptable means of communication, it would be my favorite choice.
Who wouldn’t want to pass information to the next person without having to socially interact with them?
I could be amongst people with myriads of conversations going on around me and I am not inclined to actively participate but of course my mind is processing all that information and giving appropriate responses, it is just that my mouth refused to get the memo to pass on my part of the conversations, you see why I will choose telepathy?
I am one of those people who honestly enjoy the sound of silence and see nothing wrong in being alone, it is an absolute delight!
I would prefer to relate with people on my terms, when I want to speak or be spoken to, when I want to touch or be touched, when I want people around when I want them be gone.
Alas that is not the way being an adult works, ironically so! So what do I do?
What do I do when I have had to be exposed to extended periods of relating with people beyond what I have the natural range for? How do I keep my sanity in the face of all the seemingly madness of the everyday life?
How do I protect my mental health before I start snapping at people and they begin to wonder why I am blowing small issues out of proportion? Or I become an emotional eater who tries to drown her apprehensions in food while mentally telling herself to plaster a smile on her face. I am quite good at my job but mental exhaustion gives room for mistakes that makes me question my abilities.
Solitude is often given a bad connotation, it is often equated with loneliness and all the baggage that comes with it. A lot has been said about importance and advantages of social connectivity, humans as social beings and how relationships strengthen you, probably all correct and we have accepted it to be the truth such that people who exhibit contrary traits are seen as misfits.
Dear fellow misfits, I bring you good news, wanting to be alone is perfectly normal.
First, wanting to be alone is not the same as loneliness, we all have to understand that.
Loneliness is a state of the mind, it causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.
Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind. Loneliness can also be attributed to internal factors such as low self-esteem. People who lack confidence in themselves often believe that they are unworthy of the attention or regard of other people, which can lead to isolation and chronic loneliness. Please if you feel this way, I implore you to seek counselling or therapy.
Wanting to be alone is you actively seeking out periods of solitude, a period of time you choose to spend by yourself away for people, noise and the chaos of everyday living, especially those of us who live in Lagos, Nigeria.
No, you are not being selfish if you decide to drop everything, switch off your phones and go away for a while. It doesn’t make you a bad partner or a bad parent if you want to spend time by yourself without having to attend to other people’s needs. Many of us are struggling under the weight of expectations while we know in our innermost being that it is crushing our very essence.
Benefits of alone time
1. It enhances creativity- that Eureka idea may just be waiting for you to be quiet by yourself to pop up! Many writers require periods of alone time to come up with block buster books that outlives them. when you let your mind wander freely, which is more likely to occur when you are alone, you activate the brain’s default mode network, which is responsible for most of your original thoughts and ideas. You are able to shut out the noise and listen to yourself, strategize, plan and be at your best.
2. It recharges the brain and overall wellbeing- In order to function properly, the brain needs to rest and recharge. The hassle of everyday life is enough to wear you out, added to other attending obligation it is only a matter of time before mental exhaustion sets in.
Fortunately, time spent alone allows the brain to slow down and replenish itself, making space for clearer thinking and the ability to be more present with others.
As a leader, business owner or even a parent, we are conditioned to think that things will breakdown if we attempt to take our eyes off the ball for a minute, but the benefits of taking time off to recharge far outweighs staying on when you are exhausted. There is increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression.
3. It improves your sense of self- Alone time gives you the opportunity to self-reflect and become more comfortable with who you are and what you value. It encourages you to form your own opinions, independent of the judgment and criticism of others. Spending time alone also forces you to solve problems on your own—problems you may be surprised to learn you can work through without the help of others. The more time you spend alone the more self-reliant and independent you become giving you assurance that you can handle yourself and face challenges of life.
4. It improves your relationships- When you are comfortable being alone and believe that you can take care of yourself, you are less likely to be overly dependent on others. Plus, alone time can breed self-awareness and empathy, two traits found in healthy relationships. By becoming comfortable in your own skin, you can also better meet people where they are without judgement. Many people are in toxic relationships because they are afraid of being alone. The more time you spend alone, the better you can define and refine your relationships. Furthermore, time alone allows us to appreciate our time with others more, rather than taking it for granted or feeling overwhelmed by it. Alone time can also help us understand others better “By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around.
5. Trusting yourself becomes easier- Once you’ve made that step into independence, you will find that putting yourself first becomes easier, you know what you want and you go for it. your inner voice is louder and stronger enabling you stand firmer in the face of challenges.
Although it’s scary to make a move without consulting everyone you know and that random person on the street, it also makes stronger as you learn to trust your own instincts. Developing your own opinions only clarifies who you are, what you want, and how to listen to your gut. It also helps you understand the place of people in your life, you won’t need to use people as emotional crutches or seek validation.
6. It gives room for reflection and counting your blessings- Alone time is a time to reflect. Often we get so caught up in daily life that we don’t even have a moment to process what’s going on in our lives currently, or what just happened in the past. Alone time is the perfect opportunity for you to catch up with yourself and what you’re feeling. On top of reflecting on whatever may be going on in your life, you can also use alone time for practicing gratitude. It’s easy to get hung up on the negatives — trust me, I know! But spending some time alone and thinking about all the good things in your life can be a great mood booster. Practicing gratitude leads to a more positive outlook on life and a greater sense of wellbeing.
7. You get to do what you want- My personal favorite benefit of alone time is that it’s a time when I don’t have to compromise and can do the things that I love! When we’re alone, the pressures of pleasing others and social interaction are off, which can be big stressors for people like me. There’s no meeting someone halfway and no having to put up with activities you aren’t interested in. With the pressures and responsibilities of everyday life, how often do you get to be in a situation where it’s really all about you? Embrace the opportunity to do what makes you the happiest. Maybe it’s a new hobby (I went hiking for the first time earlier in the year and I thoroughly enjoyed it), reading, or anything you have been wanting to accomplish.
Seeking out alone time for beginners – this is what I call introduction to enjoying your own company 101.
a, Start small- you don’t have to go hardcore by going off the radar for days at a time, some people naturally enjoy alone time more than others. If you find it difficult to be alone or haven’t disconnected from others in a while, start with a just a few minutes of alone time each day until you feel more comfortable. Spending time alone, while uncomfortable at first for some, shouldn’t be a dreadful obligation.
b, Put your phone aside- Without the distraction of social media and the pressure to respond to texts, you’re more likely to engage in solo activities that are much more beneficial in the long run. Like I said earlier, start small if dropping your phone for a period is going to be a difficult task, 30 minutes, one hour at a time. Use the airplane or flight mode option, there is also the Do Not Disturb option on most devices.
c; Choose an activity you enjoy- Choose an activity you genuinely enjoy and have benefited from in the past, whether it was physically, mentally, or emotionally. It could be as far back as during your childhood—a time perhaps when it was easier to entertain yourself. For me, music always works, a book too and just the company of my mind.
d; Plan for it- planning a personal getaway time may give you something to look forward to. It also helps you put structures in place to cushion the effect of your absence if any.
e; Normalize alone time- Learn how to make time for yourself in the first place. Get comfortable telling significant others, friends or family members that you need some time to yourself. In the case you are having guilt feelings of ‘abandoning’ your responsibilities, please remind yourself why you needed the alone time in the first place.
What to do if you feel uncomfortable being alone?
Some of us are pros at seeking out our alone time and we do not apologize for it even when others don’t understand it. Fact is you do not have to explain yourself to people on why you do what you do, most will still not get it even after all your explanations but If you’d rather do anything other than spend time by yourself, dig deep and ask yourself why you feel that way. Is it because you’re afraid to be alone with your own thoughts?
Have you experienced trauma that makes it difficult for you to be by yourself? Are you scared of feeling lonely? Or maybe, are you simply just used to constantly being around people, and unsure of how to spend time alone in any capacity.
As with anything else, practice helps. “The best way to get more comfortable with something is to practice it,” If we appreciate and use the time wisely, being alone can become an activity that we can learn to enjoy and use to grow as individuals.
Remember that being alone doesn’t have to mean you’re not doing anything. It can be quite the opposite. While you certainly can use your alone time as an opportunity to just be, you can also use your alone time to do things that you love, work on your well-being, or learn something new.
Feeling comfortable being alone is a skill that benefits us in many ways; we have more time to do things for us, we can practice self-care, we can learn a new language, we can rest, or we can practice mindfulness (I actually took a course on mindfulness, amazing I must say)
Extra notes– if you believe your discomfort in being alone is due to mental health conditions, trauma, other reasons don’t hesitate to seek therapy.
Even if you’re not a loner, once you get used to spending time by yourself, you’ll treasure that alone time and even look forward to it. Celebrate the greatest relationship you will ever have—the one with yourself.
Think of all the possibilities!
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