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Solitude is Key to Self-awareness
Trips to museums is a great therapy for tired souls.
Remember the time when you were young and felt that the world has gone awry and you just want to be left alone? Where was your safe haven? Mine was under the bed, reading Enid Blyton or Nancy Drew books that I borrowed from the school library. Probably yours was on top of a tree, a spot behind the curtains or in an inconspicuous corner in the living room.
I recall that during my teenage years, I look forward to the days when my parents would leave the house to me. I celebrate those times alone, cooking for myself, gobbling up all those books, writing entries in my journal or simply daydreaming. I am left to think to my heart’s content anything I want to be, a lady detective uncovering the world’s best kept secrets or an English lady drinking tea with lords and ladies or sometimes a fashion photographer with my dolls as models. It was at those times that my imagination would soar, the innocence of just believing that I can do anything.
Then high school came with peers and responsibilities, and then college with more peers and bigger responsibilities, then came work with more social contacts and humongous tasks and pressure, and then marriage, children, endless PTA meetings, a so-called career then add to the list the heartbreaks, cancelled vacations, endless crying, whining, budgeting, emergencies, impromptu meetings and if it wasn't enough, unsolicited advice and the keeping-up-with-the-joneses. How can one person handle all those tagging? It does not surprise me why Psychotherapy is now a booming business.
Does it really have to come to spending hard-earned money to get back what we all thought we lost, our sanity? What if you don’t have enough dollars to sit on a leather couch just to retell your story which you have retold a thousand times to almost all the people you’ve met? What if you barely make the minimum to keep things going at home let alone afford to go to a shrink? Before you even reach the “I'm almost insane” part, which by the way can increase your already piled-up stress; there is something that can be done to reclaim yourself.
You are Important
Today, take a hard look at how your daily life is going. How do you begin your waking hours and how do you end it, what are the activities in between those hours? Get your checklist of things to do and see if there is anything there that says “for time alone”? Are you not as important as your other tasks or the other people in your life? Sometimes we neglect to give attention to ourselves making everything else and everybody else as priority, our family, friends and career, rushing to their every call, catering to their every need and demands, whims and fancy, losing focus on who we are. It is like an open door that invites stress to come in, but the good news is, you can lock that door for a moment to clean house, so to speak and open it again when you are ready to entertain. We should treat ourselves the same way we treat anything or anybody of value in our life.
Set a sacred time for yourself
The first thing you need to do is set a specific time of day for yourself. I like mine at dawn before the whole house wakes up to savor all the quiet. You might find it convenient to set yours after the kids are asleep in the evening or at midday when you have the whole house to yourself. It is your special time so it is fitting that you mark your preference. We all have the same 24-hours gift of time, 6 to 8 hours is delegated to sleep, another 8 or 9 for working and the rest for cooking, eating, going to the grocery or the carwash, for visits to or from friends, and all those errands. All you really need to do is set the clock for this exclusive hour of day for yourself. In the beginning it will be hard to keep the schedule but you need to keep going until it becomes a habit.
Choose a favorite spot in the house. Place a couch or a table and chair or an area rug in it, if you prefer to sit on the floor, and surround it with things that you think represents you. Mine is a bouquet of fresh flowers in a favorite vase that my mom gave me when I was a teenager. The vase makes me think of my youth and my dreams, and the fresh flowers reminds me of the beauty in nature. I decorated it with whatever I want to do with during this special time. It could be a scented candle for meditation, the book that I want to read, my journals if I wish to write or my cup of coffee if I just want to reflect and enjoy the time alone. From my little corner, I get a good perspective of the whole house, in that way I can revel in the serenity that surrounds me. Putting up your own sanctuary in the house, or the yard if you want to, gives you a feeling of comfort especially when you feel that the world is pulling you in all directions. You know that you can always retreat there, a time and place of your own.
Get into the groove
At first it might be hard to stick to a schedule, a litany of new things to do always comes up, it could be that the kids woke up earlier than usual or there is an important meeting that you cannot miss. There would be times when you will feel guilty of spending so much time for yourself when it could be spent by doing something more productive. Do not give up! Soon you will get used to it and even sooner you will look forward to it.
It may look like a waste of time at first but as the days pass by and you get used to it, you will be pleasantly surprised by moments of self-discovery. This discovery will lead you to who you really are, what you want and where you want to take yourself. In the process of exploration you will regain your strength, revive your passions, and release your creativity. That is the gift of silence. Think of positive thoughts about yourself, envision your dreams and let your imagination soar.This time is made especially for you, you have the same right as anybody else to claim it, anything concerning the rest of the world will naturally come to you later and you will be prepared for it.
Solitude does not mean sedentary
Your alone time need not be stationed in one place all the time. Since mine takes place at dawn, when the weather is cooler, I go out for a walk sometimes I take my dog with me. It can be a trip to the museum, to a park, a ballet recital or a theatrical play. You can go to places where you feel you can reflect, create, imagine, motivate, celebrate or connect with yourself. It is you that will make those choices which means that you are listening to your inner voice, the person that you had long set aside listening to other’s calling. At this time you are not a sister, a friend, a mother, a wife or a co-worker to another except to yourself.
Solitude is the most valuable gift you can give yourself. It does not mean that you are an anti-social or an introvert to love being alone or that you have become one. The waters in the ocean are calmer when it is at its deepest; it is not near the shore but far away in the middle of the vastness of the marine world. Pull back when everything is pushing you forward. By doing so, you regain your foothold and do not get swayed in directions you don’t want to go, you get a better perspective of how things are going therefore assess what direction you want to pursue. By getting in touch with yourself, you become a better social being, calmer in disposition, serene in demeanor and slow to anger. Enjoy!