Solitude is defined as the state or situation of being alone.
Although connection is one of our basic human needs. I believe being alone is also a necessity.
I’m very much a people person and forever around others. I live in a full house, work within a team of people and often spend time with my nearest and dearest. I’m that person who strikes up a conversation wherever I am, be it on public transport, in a queue, at the gym or doing my food shop. I thoroughly enjoy other people’s company, but at the same time I cherish being by myself.
The benefits of being alone can include:
- Giving you the chance to examine your thoughts and reflect on your experience
- Learn about who you are without the influence of others
- Providing you with the space to just be
- Not having to consider other peoples preferences, wants or needs
- Narrating your own story and dictating your own time
- The opportunity to work on personal endeavors
Solitude feels like such a sacred time to me and I feel that it is important to learn how to be with just you and your thoughts.
I appreciate that being solely with your thoughts can be quite scary as it may be something you don’t often experience or it might make you feel uncomfortable.
Being constantly with others can distract you from your internal chatter. If that chatter is on the negative end of the spectrum and a detriment to your wellbeing. It may be useful to learn more about it and potentially get some support; the NHS is a good start:
I’m deeply grateful for my loved ones and wouldn’t change constantly being around them. With that said, I’m very aware that the person I spend the most time with is myself and I have to be intentional about creating time to get to know who I am; who by the way is forever changing as I grow through different experiences.
Being intentional with cultivating solitude is achievable through action and here’s a few ways that enable me to do that:
Meditation is being with what is. And being alone allows you to get in tune with your experience.
My favourite time to meditate is first thing in the morning when the house is quiet. I really appreciate this time as it allows me to check in with myself before the business of the day begins.
Being in nature, walking without much of an agenda and enjoying the scenery around me was one of my favourite things to do in Madrid. I must admit I don’t do it as often nowadays but when I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. There’s something about walking that feels so freeing and I intend to do more of these ‘no agenda’ walks.
The very first time I travelled solo remains as one of my favourite memories, it felt liberating to do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Some things didn’t go according to plan and I had to figure it out by myself, but it was a challenge that forced me to live outside of my comfort zone. I’m definitely a planner by nature and not the best navigator; I soon realised that being on my own in a new place required me to be those exact things and it all worked out great in the end.
It’s about learning
The main reason why carving out time to be alone is necessary is because it allows us to learn who we are. Sometimes we don’t have the thinking space or opportunity to really think about what we value, who we’d like to be, how we want to show up in the world, what we actually like / dislike, our hopes and dreams. When we are with others it’s hard not to hear when they are speaking and to be influenced by their thoughts and feelings.
There’s the saying, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with – Jim Rohn.
I think it’s useful to recognise that if we truly are the average of those closest to us we have to consider what is it that we own for ourselves, as in our own beliefs. We consume other people’s ideas which is fine but it’s important to take a step back from time to time and actually think about what we are digesting. I think taking time to do that can be very helpful and as James Clear recently said, one of the most important things we can learn to do is to direct our attention to ourselves.
That brings me to the thing I always say, which is, the most important conversation we will ever have in life is that with ourselves. And we kinda need to be alone to be able to hear ourselves clearly.
There is no one in this life that you will spend more time with other than yourself. I hope this post encourages you to think about creating some time for you in your life. To be with yourself, by yourself, free from the presence of other people.