During the pandemic, especially during the early days, when we were forced to stay away from each other, a lot of us found ourselves alone. It was an abrupt change, and one that took a while to learn to deal with. Today, we want to talk about a different type of “alone.”
When was the last time you really spent quality time . . . with yourself? We’re not talking about the few seconds that pass between getting in the car and turning on the ignition before you flip on the radio, or the time it takes to download an app for your smartphone.
A word you don’t hear much these days is “solitude.” Maybe that is because it isn’t experienced much. You know, if you put prisoners in solitary confinement, they either go a little crazy, or they use the time to grow. Most of them go a little crazy because they are just not used to being alone. Humans are social beings. Too much solitude feels more like a punishment, as in the early days of the pandemic. However, some solitude is essential if we are really going to grow.
Our lives can easily get busy and noisy. As we transition back to our offices, we are surrounded at work, home and nearly everywhere else, but it is solitude we need for really deep thinking. It might be one reason carpooling hasn’t worked very well, because solitary driving time is precious to so many of us. It may be why some busy people, who can afford it, hire others to drive them around. Their time alone in the car is rare and invaluable, especially when you have to negotiate traffic. And noise-cancelling headphones aren’t just for trying to sleep while flying commercial airlines.
Some therapists believe that one reason people make so much headway in therapy is because it provides built-in time and structure to focus attention inward. This type of solitude time is not being selfish. Used properly, it can be a time of great renewal and growth.
So, if you want to really move ahead, take time every so often to be alone. Rediscover solitude. Build it into your schedule to make sure it happens. Use it to think about where you are and where you want to go. Use it to problem-solve, reflect, and re-connect with your heart’s desires. And use it to manage the challenges you meet nearly every day.