You tell your friend how you just broke off your relationship and she laments at just how lonely you’re going to be. You’re moving to a new area, don’t know a soul yet and your parents are nervous because you’re going to be so lonely. You’re single and enjoying life but people still worry that you’ll be forever lonely. Society equates being alone with being lonely. No matter which way you swing it, the word lonely has a negative connotation associated with it. It describes feelings of emptiness, unsteadiness, anxiety, isolation, and sadness.
I remember going to see a therapist when I was contemplating a divorce and within a few weeks, I proudly came in to tell her that I had finally made a decision and filed for a divorce. Her response to me was, “But who will you go to dinner with? You’ll be so lonely.” Whomp, whomp, whomp. At first, I couldn’t help but be irate that this woman, whom I was trusting with my emotions, proved to be so emotionally unstable herself. After all the inner turmoil I put myself through, that was her reply to me? How dare she! After the initial shock of her reaction wore off, I actually couldn’t help but feel sorry for this woman (and all her other clients honestly). She believed a person should stay in a marriage so that they had company, someone to eat with? It occurred to me that this must have been a big reason why she was in her own marriage, along with many other people who probably felt the same. I realized alone and lonely were too closely associated with each other.
I knew that if I couldn’t enjoy my own company, then I couldn’t expect another to enjoy it.
That day I made a vow to myself to learn to be alone without being lonely, no matter how difficult I knew it may be. I knew that if I couldn’t enjoy my own company, then I couldn’t expect another to enjoy it. If I wasn’t capable of making myself happy, then the poor soul that entered my world as a partner would only end up failing at it as well. I didn’t want to settle for a partner to fill a lonely void. Like attracts like, so if I was lonely, then I would only attract someone looking to fill a lonely void within themselves too and I deserved better than that. Just as I chose me, I wanted to choose my partner with no strings attached as a whole, complete person. In my quest for learning How to Be Alone without Being Lonely, I share these 8 key lessons I learned on my journey:
Emotions are messengers trying to help you heal. Ask yourself what feeling an experience is bringing out in you to help you understand your Self better. When I was alone on the weekends without my kids for the first time in 15 years, I felt incredibly anxious so I tried to fill up every second of my time. After a while that became exhausting so I learned to sit with my emotions and feel instead of running from them. Some days I needed to cry in order to heal and I allowed myself that space without trying to shut my Self up anymore. Learning to meet my own needs was very powerful because I no longer had to depend on another to make me happy. I had to look no further than my own backyard anytime I needed to be comforted and began to realize that I always held the power to ease my discomfort.
Have faith that everything is being worked out in your favor. Signs are everywhere and when you are open to them, you’ll find them. I would find random feathers and numbers that kept coming up for me in everything that I did. I would be thinking of a friend and all of a sudden that friend would be calling me. With this, I began to feel guided and connected to something greater every step of the way. I stumbled upon synchronicities everywhere, which told me that I was right where I was supposed to be.
I needed to remind myself that I was always supported when I felt so unsteady. This helped to ease my anxiety. To do this, I reminded myself of times that I couldn’t figure out a way for something and how everything still fell into place.
A great technique I used came after reading the advice of Gabrielle Bernstein in her book, Spirit Junkie, to set up reminders on my phone. Every day at 5 pm, my phone alerted me and said, “The universe supports me.” It always came at the most appropriate times when I needed to hear it. After a while, I felt like I was on this journey with something greater and I took refuge in the fact that the universe always had my back.
Everyone had always told me to meditate but just the thought of it used to give me anxiety. One day, I finally did and felt the shifts in my whole being. I was more relaxed, focused, centered, and connected. This was quite the challenge when I first began. I couldn’t quiet my mind no matter how I tried. But, I tried over and over again, and eventually, I learned to ease my mind. Just breathing in and out and paying attention to my breath helped me to relax and stay in the present moment. Repeating a word of your choice over and over again also helps. Thoughts will always come and go but allow them to come without getting attached to them. Meditating helped me to stay centered and stay connected to my Self.
Yoga also was extremely meditative. It forced me to go outside my comfort zone and learn to be still. In positioning my body into each pose, I was forced to stay in the present moment and focus. I pushed my limits and found the balance within that I didn’t know I had. I had to show determination and strength on the mat. This was all metaphoric for my life.
Reading became my favorite past time. I indulged in non-fiction books, cover to cover, always learning about myself and applying techniques within. At night, I would read a chapter before bed and this helped me to stay focused on the new direction that my life was headed in and sleep peacefully. I became clear about what I wanted and began to powerfully believe in my dreams. You can pick any hobby that resonates with you, inspires you and makes you feel good.
The more I got to spend time alone with myself, the more comfortable I became with being uncomfortable. I began to try new things and felt super weird at first. I flew solo to seminars in all different parts of the country and made new friends that I still have today. I knew I needed to go outside my comfort zone in order to grow, so much so that I booked a trip solo to Australia to visit a friend. I stayed in an apartment by myself and explored Sydney with me, myself, and I. As I pushed my limits more and more, I never felt lonely. I became so proud of myself and actually adored the person I was becoming for the first time in my life. I started to get more comfortable in my own skin. I realized the one thing I could always be sure of was that I’d always have my Self. And in this knowing, I learned there was nobody better to rely on.
Being alone does not equate to being lonely. Being alone creates growth and allows you the chance to get to know yourself.
If you’re not quite ready to travel to the other side of the world just yet, meetup.com is a great site that allows you to put in your interests and then gives you all of the events going on in your area. This is a great way to explore who you are and what you like.
I remember waking up one morning craving home fries, well done, from the diner. So, instead of calling a friend to see if they would join me, I decided to take myself out to breakfast. I had butterflies on the way there at the thought of sitting alone. I wondered what other people would think for a split second and then reminded myself how what they thought didn’t matter. What mattered was what I felt and who I knew I was. It was a truly freeing experience and it showed me how far I had come as I was able to enjoy my own company.
Every night before I went to bed, I said good night to my Self in the mirror. I smiled, told my Self that I loved her and blew a kiss. Yep! I blew a kiss to myself! Yes I know it sounds incredibly corny but it feels so awesome to provide unconditional love to yourself. You don’t need another to love you when you can truly love yourself. And the irony is that the more you do genuinely love yourself, the more others love being around you. It’s truly a win-win! When you unconditionally love yourself, the chances of you getting into an unhealthy, dependent relationship will be slim to none because it won’t be based off of needing someone but rather choosing them.
There was another technique I used that worked greatly. I kept a picture on my nightstand of my younger self that needed some extra TLC. Every time I looked at it, I pictured loving and nurturing her the way that she needed it and it felt wonderful to connect to and integrate the different pieces of me. Self-love is the single, most beautiful love ever to be experienced.
After learning how to be alone without being lonely, I realized that loneliness stems from being disconnected to your Self. When I got divorced, I didn’t feel lonely because I didn’t have my kids with me or a partner to share life with anymore. I knew this to be true because when I was married I was lonelier than when I was single. I was lonely because I lost the connection to my Self. I didn’t nurture her and love her the way that she needed. We all are guilty of losing touch with who we are as we get caught up in a too busy lifestyle. We often end up just going through the motions of each day meeting everyone else’s needs instead of our Selves. This is what causes loneliness whether you are with the right partner or the wrong one. It is always important to fill yourself up with love and happiness before you can expect others to fill you up with the same. Being alone does not equate to being lonely. Being alone creates growth and allows you the chance to get to know yourself, understand what inspires you, rely on yourself, comfort yourself, connect with yourself and most importantly, love your Self.
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