I wouldn’t call myself a loner, but I do like spending time by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends and am soon to be a wife, but there is something about that alone time that is so appealing to me. I remember when I first got into my relationship I explained that I LOVE to be alone. I made sure to emphasize that it wouldn’t interfere with us communing with each other, but I do like to have the occasional day to myself. When you think about being alone you might wonder how does one not feel lonely? I have found that taking that time to commune with yourself is not only therapeutic, but also boosts creativity.
When you are in a relationship or you are constantly surrounding yourself with friends it’s easy to end up going with the flow and being influenced by those other people.
Influence is a tricky things because it’s not inherently bad. You can be positively influenced or negatively influenced depending on the habits of the other people. It’s also not something that just SUDDENLY happens. It’s a gradual transition. Influence is subtle.
One day you are waking up and working out or doing some morning reading, then over time you “don’t have time” for those things anymore and have traded them in for sleeping in late and making excuses for why your jeans don’t fit anymore. This kind of subtly has happened to all of us at one point or another, but I argue that it’s because we don’t spend enough time with ourselves. Having [insert name] time is sometimes seen as a pointless exercise, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do for yourself and the other people in your life (work, romantic, family, friendships).
What are the benefits of communing with yourself?
When I say communing with yourself, I’m literally talking about it just being you. Not your phone and you and the millions of people on the Internet. I would even say do something with the dog for a day too lol. The time I spent communing with myself helped me do these three things figure out what mattered to me, helped my relationship become less stale, helped me with my creative expression. These are just some that I can pinpoint now, but it’s a great start.
Figuring out what matters to you.
A few weeks ago I watched an interview and one of the recurring themes was choosing what matters to you. As simple as that may seem, I notice that it has become increasingly difficult to narrow things down that matter to ME. Everyday we are being bombarded with this post and that post and advertisements about what SHOULD matter to us, without taking a step back and looking in our own soul. I love technology, but every now and again I have to re-calibrate. It took me 30 years to figure out what mattered to be, but ever since then my days are less stressed filled and I’m able to make clearer decisions. If we don’t know what matters to us we may find ourselves involved in something that seems great, but is actually life-draining in the long run. One of the things that helped me was doing 30-day fasts. A lot of us do them pertaining to our health, but I’m talking about going 30 days without something that has significance to you AND replacing it with [insert name] time. During this time you are focusing on things that matter to YOU. Do you want to grow in some way? Has there been a habit you wanted to cultivate, but haven’t gotten around to it? Do you find yourself feeling envious looking at social media all the time? Use that 30 days to kick off a journey of self exploration! When the 30 days is over if you like the results keep it up, if you don’t, scrap it. Just that time communing with yourself will be refreshing.
Helps freshen up relationships.
Every couple goes through that phase where you just can’t stand to be away from each other. I don’t know about you, but that gets old after a while and I need some time to myself. Think about the last time you were making a decision about where to eat, what movie to watch, or where to go on vacation. Typically these are joint decision and you make compromises. How freeing does it feel when you can wake up one day and say I am going to do whatever the hell I want to do! No consulting, no compromise, no feeling of guilt because you feel like you forced the decision. You get to do what you effing want to do. I’m no relationship expert, but every time I take a day for myself, I go back to the relationship renewed and missing the companionship of my partner. I look forward to spending time and doing what couples do. That time to myself allows me to reflect on who I am as a person and cater to my own self-care. I reflect on my live with my partner and don’t take them for granted as much. I realize that I’m with them because I want to be not because we are bound together. Being alone isn’t a selfish act. If we don’t take time for ourselves every now and again we won’t be any good for the people we want to be in relationship with.
Being alone boosts your creativity and productivity.
There is a clarity that one feels when they are free from focusing on external stimuli. Remember that 30 day fast from earlier? What I did was give up binge watching (and a few other things). Notice I said gave up binge watching not gave up my beloved Netflix. That slight change freed up hours that I spent searching for additional income streams. I also let my partner know about this fast because we had to be on the same page. I didn’t want her to think I was neglecting her. However, when I was having my Shannon time, she was to “let me live”. Initially I was looking for a way to earn some extra income, but after about 5 days it turned into something so much more. I was one of those people that was “drifting” through life. You know, going through the motions. That time I took for myself led me to a new and exciting interests and also took me one step closer to living my purpose (I’ll talk more about that another time). It didn’t take anything away from my partner, it didn’t interfere with my regular routine, but it did light the flame of creativity that I think we all have. We all want to to experience some form of creative expression and taking the time to be alone and do your own thing could be that spark for you too. From the productivity side, not having to wait on other people is a total time saver!
There are a million things to do by yourself, but a few that I would recommend at some point in life are these.
1.Take a solo travel adventure (domestic or international). There are plenty of great articles about the benefits and awe inducing moments of this.
- In the illustrious words of Tom and Donna from Parks and Rec “Treat yo self”! Go out to a nice dinner, find a vineyard and grab bottle and look at the scenery, Go to the movies and get a beer and some popcorn. If anybody looks at you crazy they just don’t get it yet. When the waiter asks if it’s just you, look them in the eyes and say ABSOLUTELY IT IS!
- Do something nature filled. Go hiking (make sure you have your mace and weapon of course). One of my favorite things was to go kayaking on the Potomac when I lived in DC.
Being alone doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely if you use the time to truly commune with yourself. You will find that you understand and are more at peace with the interconnectedness of humanity. This isn’t an introvert/extrovert discussion. It’s about taking time to be alone with yourself so that all the other relationships in your life can flourish. It’s also about communing with yourself so you can live life with truth, love, and power. Once you are comfortable with that, your are equipped to handle life’s peaks and valleys.
Shannon Carlisle is a native of Indianapolis, IN. She spent her young life playing basketball which eventually afforded her a full-ride to Howard University. Shannon played semi-pro but never realized her dream of making it to “the league”. She spent the next few years “drifting” until she noticed that other athletes had trouble transitioning too. Now, Shannon blogs at Win After Basketball where she helps post graduate athletes reclaim their identity and develop meaning beyond the game. Click here to visit her website.