All my life I have loved being surrounded by people. I thrived off my social circle.. to an extent where my mother once complained that my friends were more important to me than my family. Then I met my husband who was starkly different from me. He could stay alone for hours, locked up in his room, working on his countless projects ranging from 3D printers, amplifiers etc. At the same time, he had a good set of friends with whom he could unwind when he felt like.
It dawned on me then, that a large part of being surrounded by people, for me, was to not feel alone! I couldn’t be in my own company and needed friends to validate my existence. Seems common?
Research suggests that our ability to tolerate alone time is linked to increased happiness, better stress management, and improved life satisfaction. And trust me, if you are anything like me.. its not easy to be comfortable being alone.
So how do we learn to love our own company? Here are 5 ways that are helping me in this journey of self love.
- Make peace with who you are:
Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have. — Robert Holden
This is a slow process and the journey is often not easy, since it brings forth a lot of emotions and things we might be embarrassed or ashamed of. Basically it brings our flaws in the open, which we often try to bury deep within.
It’s like Brene Browne states “When you deny your story, it owns you.” I remember a particularly uncomfortable session with my counsellor where she kept asking me “and what will happen if this happens” like the 5 Why’s technique where you keep digging deeper to understand the crux of the matter. And there lay the uncomfortable truth! It was like an A-ha moment for me. It helped me understand a behavioural pattern which I had so long been struggling with.
And this is when you need to start treating yourself with respect, love and understanding. Accept your failings and don’t be critical of yourself. For me, this process began with a harsh reality of a disease, and strangely I accept myself far more now than I ever have before.
- Guided meditation and journaling help to understand ourselves better. Journaling particularly helps to understand our derailers, desires, fears etc.
- Pay attention to how you speak to yourself. Do you criticise yourself, or motivate. Are you able to motivate yourself or push yourself down for failings?
- Look at your habits. Some of them will not be congruent with what you think you should be? Make peace with who you truly are.
2. Do something alone
My mom always liked going for movies alone and I remember wondering who in their right mind would do that. Well, I guess she knew the secret to being self-content.
One of the things i did more from a bucket list perspective was to travel alone. But eventually it helped me be calm in my own company. Honestly, it was one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating things I had done. It was only then that being alone no longer scared me, rather I quite enjoyed doing things on my own terms. It also helped me connect with people rather differently. I met some interesting people on this trip and it truly opened my mind.
Even now, I take out the time to do something on my own. Scouring my city alone, sitting at a café and reading a book etc.
Actionable: Go solo. Start small if you need to, take a book and sit at a café or beach. Go for a movie or an activity.
3. Declutter your life:
Recently I was watching The Home Edit on Netflix which seeks to transform homes and messy rooms. Isn’t that something we always want to do? Ensure all the rooms in our home are well organised and squeaky clean. But what happens to our mind? When do we declutter that?
I realised, I would pack my day with social visits and commitments so that I would not be alone. Also, there were people who would drain my energy yet somehow always found space in my life.
I started ‘The Mind Edit’ slowly. Honestly, I did not have space nor the emotional bandwidth to deal with them anymore. It was time to declutter my life!
- Learn how to say NO! Declutter your calendar and ensure it has only meaningful commitments.
- It’s also important to look at your relationships and choose wisely. People who help you grow and understand your authentic selves are the ones who need to always be in your life.
4. Create something you are proud of or try new things:
People who love their own company usually have something they call their own. My husband has his passion projects. Now, everyone will not have a hobby such as this, but there will always be something you enjoy doing in your alone time.
Every year, I promise myself to try something new for my career or personal growth. That’s how I learned to scuba dive (advance certification), coaching skills, to travel alone and now my blog.
Actionables: You are never too old to try something new. My friend’s mother started painting and holding exhibitions recently. It was something she had always wanted to do and finally she had found the self will for it.
Be selfish! Trust me, you will be so proud of it once you do it.
5. Make yourself your WIP project:
When life takes over, its difficult to find time for yourself. Be “the best version of you!”.
My body was pleading with me to start getting fit and it’s something I am more mindful of now. Even during chemotherapy I practice yoga and meditation; which frankly is helping me stay calm and has reduced a lot of pain I was otherwise experiencing. I have also set myself a goal of doing my NLP certification next year.
Actionable: Find something you have been wanting to do for long and haven’t. There is never a better time than now to start on it. Don’t let life pass you by and regret it. Do this for yourself. Your body and mind both need nourishment.