Learning How to Be Alone: Sometimes We Have to Go Back to Move Forward
Being alone. . .
I have been hiding from being alone for most of my life. As we grow older, we get more comfortable with ourselves, which ultimately leads us to finding solace and comfort in being alone. I have been working hard to spur on this growth to get more comfortable with myself.
My goal is to be the perfect partner: knowing everything about me and loving me anyway.
A basic truth that I am only just learning is that our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our actions which only then creates our results.
The model maps this truth out beautifully. By using the model, my reality that I am creating with my thoughts has become clearer by self-coach myself through any situation. The model shows the causal relationship between our thoughts and our reality.
By using the model I am becoming aware of the deep dark corners of my mind.
I know a lot about the mind through my studies of psychology. But knowing these concepts intellectually is very different than applying them to real life, especially my own life. Even on some of the toughest days, I try and remind myself with every new day comes a new opportunity to learn more. This past week I lived in close quarters with loneliness and I uncovered some old baggage.
My husband went off on a business trip last week leaving our puppies and me behind. Being alone has never been one of my strong suits. Don’t get me wrong, I like having my space. But being connected to other people in a significant way is important to me. It is a delicate balance between having space and having connection.
The Old Stuff
I used to think of loneliness as a bad word. I never wanted to be lonely. Only people who nobody liked were lonely. I uncovered this belief using my Thought Inventory last week. Obviously, my brain has been housing my insecure teenage-self for almost a decade (but there is no time like the present to do a little spring cleaning!)
My goal in life was to be surrounded by people who were only a text or call away (as any teenager can attest). If I found myself feeling lonely it meant that I didn’t have enough friends, or no one liked me, or I was unlovable, or I didn't have people who cared about me, and the list goes on. So in retrospect you can see why I didn't even want to feel lonely for half a second, especially with those beliefs rolling around in my brain.
Those old beliefs were hanging around for a while. They were the thoughts that drove many decisions and subsequent actions in my life. I have always had a best friend or a partner of some sort on any given day, which never made loneliness an issue for me. Having people constantly around me was the best way I knew how to hide from myself.
Even know if my adult life I still hide. I pad my schedule with social events. But this time was was different. I was lucky enough to work from home because of my illness but my home turned into my office, and my refuge. That can get a little isolating to say the least.
The Great Self Exploration
As my track record can attest, I haven’t really felt loneliness in any real way. I have felt loneliness before, but it has not been consistent like this past week.
I noticed that I wasn’t quite feeling like myself. At first I thought it was from being sick. It was in part because I was running away from the feeling. I never allowed myself to feel the emotion through my body and unpack it the way any emotion deserves.
I had one of those grand "come-to-jesus" moments on one of my daily walks. In order to not feel alone, I had been doing a lot of compensatory behaviors. One of those behaviors was overeating. This emotional eating was sneaky, it wasn't the full out binge, it was just having one too many piece of chocolate.
As many of you now, I have been practicing becoming intuitive with eating rather than emotional. I have gotten to a place of awareness were I am able to notice and acknowledge when I want to use food as a way to procrastinate or to use food as a coping mechanism with anxiety, but this sense of loneliness really threw me for a loop.
When I go for a walk with my dogs I explore my thoughts and have my time for reflection. This time my brain would veer off when I would practice being present with my thoughts. With hindsight being what it is, I can see that this was a sign that I needed to do more digging, but instead I figured I was tired or just feeling sick and I let it go. . .
When I got home I would eat my breakfast with a podcast playing or an audio book going because I didn’t want to hear the quiet. I normally wouldn’t do this because for me, listening to another voice doesn’t allow me to be fully aware of what I am eating. But I did it anyways, which again should have been a red flag.
Another way I tried to tune myself out was by cleaning the house. . . like a made woman. Once I dropped my husband off at the airport, I made this huge long list of what I wanted to clean around the house (AKA everything). I cleaned the curtains, the windows, dusted everything, (don’t get me wrong needed to get done) but the motivation was not purely out of needing the house to be clean. It was to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t feel alone.
When I sat down to do a little self-exploration of my thoughts I couldn’t come up with anything real. This was my brain trying to hide from myself.
Guys, I was stuck in a very real way. I was living in denial and trying everything I could to distract myself.
How To Get Unstuck
So, I finally sat down and asked myself questions. I have used these in previous posts. I love these questions because they start to allow my true thoughts to flow and bring consciousness up again.
Let me tell you, my thoughts blew me away. . .
Becoming aware is the first step my friends. It took me a while to gain this type of awareness around an emotion that I have been hiding from my whole life. But I have started to get unstuck from my fear of being alone.
I do believe that this is the purpose of living: getting comfortable with yourself and evolving past the person you once were.
I was able to get unstuck. Here is the workflow that I used. Just in case you are feeling stuck in your life, with anything in your life. This will help to bring your consciousness to another level, I promise you.