It is inexcusable that times will come in everyone’s life where they will have to be alone; not just for 5 minutes or while waiting for a bus. I mean days, weeks and years of ‘loneliness.’
Those times may be the result of painful experiences or necessary transitions in your life, but it must come. The good news is that you don’t have to be miserable at such times.
That’s why I’m writing this…
From several studies and personal experiences, I have come to learn that times when you are alone can really be times of blessings and refreshing. And not only are they inevitable, they are necessary for you.
Now, apart from times when you have no choice but to be alone, you should also consciously initiate times to be alone by yourself, even if you have several choices of being among people, for the many benefits it holds.
But the question that fills the mind of many when they have the thought of spending time alone is what in the world will I be doing? How will I cope?
Before I take you through what you should be doing, let’s first consider how you should be doing.
Preparing Yourself for Quality Time Alone
The preparation of yourself you should make is to have a mindset shift. This is the mindset you require:
You must take possession of the moment. You must see it as a desirable moment; if not for the pleasure, for the benefits. It shouldn’t be a ‘necessary evil’ which you will happily run away from on finding an alternative.
This disposition is especially necessary if you are a person who naturally dislikes soulitude. You have to take hold of every moment and be in charge of it for you to maximally benefits from it. Don’t just leave the time to chance and flow with anything that comes. You might, through that, open the door to boredom.
I want to take time to emphasize on this because this is the biggest factor that affect your experience of spending time alone. Really, we don’t see things as they are but as we are. See spending time alone as something desirable. (At least, you are reading this blog post because you want to spend time alone but don’t know how).
Once you have changed your view about spending time alone and have decided to take hold of the moment to produce something beautiful, you now need to prepare the environment for a quality time alone.
Preparing Your Environment for Quality Time Alone
I have personally come to understand that one of the biggest gold mine of spending time alone is that it gives you an avenue to come in contact with yourself (more on this later). Since this is true, you will want to ensure that your time alone is really just you.
Make sure you are truly just by yourself. By this I don’t mean staying as far as possible from where humans are, but staying as far as possible from the influence of humans: what people think and expect of you, what they have said to you, and how they have treated you.
You have lived every other time with the considerations of others, you don’t want to bring it over to this time. Even if you consider the thoughts and words of people about you, it should be look at them critically, examining how true they are and how they apply to your life. You shouldn’t take everything in capsule.
This also becomes so important to state since we are in a world greatly influenced by the social media. You can’t say you are alone while spending all the time on Facebook– you aren’t doing your own stuff there. It is really not just you.
You must make sure you are in a position where you can reach your heart and do the things that represent you. Here, you’ll be able to put away the definitions of yourself the environment and expectations of people have given you and truly define yourself.
I have already started examining the first thing you can do while spending time alone that you will really enjoy. Let’s go into it properly.
What To Do While Spending Time Alone
1. Self Discovery:
There is no self discovery without spending time alone. In fact, spending time alone is one of the key three steps of the self discovery cycle. Although people can be pointers to who you are, there is nobody that has a complete picture of yourself. You must reach deep into your heart to find what is really there.
It takes spending time alone to discover your strengths and passion. It is really frustrating when one keeps investing so much time and effort in activities that give no satisfaction of fulfillment. That’s what happens when you don’t live your passion.
But you can’t fully discover your unalloyed passion without some time alone in self appraisal. You may discover the things you like by getting yourself into many engagements (you probably will find many things you like), but it takes separating yourself to a place where it is just you to sieve the things you are really passionate about and can commit yourself to for a lifetime from the things you have only a surface flare for.
It is in spending time alone that you streamline your life because you can’t live for everything.
If you are honest enough with yourself, digging into your heart might pull out some dreadful realities within you that you have always covered. (That’s what self-discovery is, afterall). Your fears, doubts, limitations, hurts and insecurities will be brought up and that my hurt you, but it is necessary if you must be free from them.
You don’t get healed by hiding your hurts or pretending they are not there. You must acknowledge them and bring them to be healed. You don’t overcome your fears by ignoring them. You must face them and fight them.
The longer you ignore the fears and hurts, the deeper and stronger they get and the more difficult it becomes to overcome them and be healed. So the earlier the better. You don’t want to live your life with those negative roots in you; they can only produce negative fruits. The good news is that you can overcome and be healed.
But spending time alone is the first step.
2. Coordinate your life:
This is a build-up to self-discovery.
Side note: If you really commit yourself to enjoying the benefits that spending time alone brings, you will find that time alone will no longer be a once-in-a-blue-moon activity. You will come to personally appreciate it and look forward to times where you will be all by yourself. It is a gold mine.
On discovering yourself and where you really fit, you will still need quality time alone to coordinate how your discovered life will be lived. How will this be done?
a. Determining where you are currently:
That is the first step in living a calculated life. Call it self appraisal or life appraisal! Here, you look back at your life: the major milestones you have crossed, the opportunities you have missed, the successes have recorded, the things you appreciate the most, other things you wish never happened…
On identifying them, you begin to realise the mistakes that brought the regrets and the right choices that brought the successes. Sometimes, some of the sad memories might not be things you had control over, but take note of them. From these, you will know the things you need to spend more time doing and the things you need to stop immediately. You will know the things you need to get better at and the things you need to correct.
However, on identifying your regrets, you shouldn’t settle in self-pity. Remember the entire aim of living a coordinated life is so you can have a predictable future of success but there is no future in self pity. Pity focuses on impossibilities and doesn’t see a way forward.
The second step in living a connected life after you have discovered where you are currently is
b. setting life goals:
This becomes necessary after you have discovered your passion (what you should live for). You need to set attainable goals within time frames. These goes should consist of transitions in your life that will take you from where you are to where you should be; major happenings, events, achievement, that must take place within a stipulated period of time in your life.
Your goals here are not wishes (things you hope would happen) but action steps (things you are ready to make happen and will work on), with a plan of action that will walk you through achieving them.
One way at which I have been able to maximize goal-setting is by first setting long-term goals (at least 10 years ahead). I write down a description of where I want to be in 10 years with regards to my career, personal development, spiritual growth, finances, relationships, ministry and as many areas as I can identify.
I then begin to reduce these goals into smaller time frame. For example, for me to be worth five million dollars in 10 years time how much must I be worth in 5 years? What must I do this year? How can I start right now?.
This will guide you in the books to read, conferences you should attend, and again it will bring you back to more time alone with yourself as you appraise your level of compliance to the goals and readjust your goals/action steps.
The third step to live in a calculated life is
c. taking strong decisions
You can call it life principles. This step is embedded throughout the entire process but it is important to spell it out so you can be conscious of it. You need to set rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts for your life over and over again. You don’t live for everything so you can’t do everything. You might not be able to itemize the list of all your do’s, but you should have a list of strong don’ts (restrictions).
3. Challenge your beliefs
Our lives run on a program of what we believe. We can consciously and only temporarily refuse to tilt to what we would naturally do but in the long run, we can only be who we are. We are what we believe.
However, that is not the whole truth. Although we can’t be who we are not we can become who we are not yet. What I’m saying in essence is that you can challenge your beliefs. Challenging your beliefs will give you two benefits among others:
(a) it will help you discover the truth: living your life on lies or errors will boomerang at the long run. (b) it will help you gain assurance so you don’t waver when challenges come.
Before I dig deeper into challenging your believes, I would like to point a second side to this, which is finding your own thoughts. It works hand-in-hand with challenging your beliefs.
Although you might not be the originator of every phenomenon you believe, you can take hold of them and make them personal. This is what happens after you have challenged them, discovered they are true, assured yourself that you are ready to live by them, and have seen what future they hold for your life.
If your beliefs are not personal, you can’t really live the coordinated or calculated life we talked about because a calculated life will need a lot of consistency which shaky beliefs cannot afford you. So the entire journey in challenging your feelings is that you can find thoughts or beliefs that you are sure of, then make them personal.
Once they are personal, you can take the big steps (risky steps) that bring success because you are now absolutely responsible for whatever the outcome will be. This is against living based on the suggestions of others which you don’t fully trust.
This also happens in our relationship with God when we take His word. He doesn’t ask us to just believe; instead, He gives us room and even commands us to meditate on them. This is to provide a platform for us to get deeper insights so we can ‘see’ what He has said. At that point of seeing, although the words are God’s, because we have seen them, we take them as personal guiding rules for our lives. We allow them to restrict and challenge us because they are now personal. It is no longer God pushing us into risks; we are the ones taking the risks. Trust is easier when the thoughts are yours.
4. Learn and develop skills
Another enjoyable thing you can do while spending time alone is learning and developing a new skill, not just any skill but a skill you enjoy. If you have truly been harnessing self discovery in the time you have been spending alone, you will have discovered some essential skills that you need to learn and others that you need to develop.
Notice here that all we have been considering under the options of enjoyable things you can do while spending time alone are all things that will help your personal development in the long run. So as you are enjoying the time, you are also growing.
In this lies the secret of the statement ‘he came out of nowhere’ because by the time you come out of your ‘hiding’ so to say, you will have developed various valuable skills and virtues that will set you up for success among others.
There are countless number of skills that you need which can only be developed in solitude. Little wonder scientists and great musicians seek time alone. It provides room for inspirations, ideas and greater insights which are indispensable ingredients in developing any skill.
From writing to painting, to music, critical thinking and a myriad of other skills, time spent among others can only give the scope of growth but the real growth happens when you are alone; when you have dissected the scope you received from others into applicable personal steps.
Einstein once said, anyone who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. This statement is true not just with regards to the balance between reading and thinking but also with other skills.
We can broaden reading to time spent with others, learning from them, sharing in their thoughts and experiences and we can also broaden thinking to mean time spent alone with yourself, critiquing what you have read, heard from others and learnt. Just like we saw under challenging your beliefs, you will become more effective with your skills when they are personalized and adjusted to resonate with your personality.
There is no quick route to enjoying solitude. If spending time alone is something you naturally detest, it will require extra effort for you to develop the passion for it, but it is possible. Just like everything worthwhile, it first takes discipline before you get to the point of delight.
By exploring self discovery, challenging your beliefs and developing new skills, you will enjoy time alone with yourself, live a calculated life and reach success with predictability. These few engagement can help kick-start the process and help you discover various other things you can do in enjoying solitude at necessary times.
What other methods have worked for you and helped you enjoy soitude? Share with someone in the comments.