Learning to Be Alone

I love scrolling through articles on Psychology Today because almost daily I find an article that I find thought-provoking and especially applicable to my life.

This morning I stumbled upon When You Can’t Stand Being Alone with Yourself. This article caught my eye since I had just been discussing this topic with a friend of mine. She and her husband recently entered couples counseling, and one of the issues they’re working through with their therapist is her inability to be alone. She avoids being alone by keeping a busy social calendar and alone time is actually painful.

I think this is an issue a lot of women can relate to, and this article discusses how women are socialized to hate being alone. We’re not only wired for empathy, but as we’re growing up we’re encouraged to care for others. While this has its benefits in adult life, it can also have a detrimental effect when we become so committed to keeping a connection with others that we lose our sense of self.

Our self-esteem begins to stem from feedback from others, and when we find ourselves in a situation where we’re alone (i.e. we usually have a packed social calendar, but one weekend remains empty), we feel a sense of failure and the alone time can be downright painful.

We come up with strategies to avoid alone time, by working overtime or packing our social calendars with activities but inevitably, we all have alone time at some point.

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Growing up and throughout college, I was constantly surrounded by people. I’ve always been social and thrived off connecting with others. I also had a tendency to base approval of myself off feedback from others, and in relationships have not carved out time to be comfortable with myself.

In the year before I met Brandon, I learned to be comfortable with myself and to embrace alone time. I even came to love spending time alone, and having someone around all the time when we started dating was an adjustment.

While I still don’t shy away from alone time, I’ve noticed that since I’m used to having someone around all the time, when Brandon’s gone I tend to feel lonely and don’t 100% embrace the time spent with myself. My goal for coming months is to spend the 10 minutes a day that article suggests alone, with no distractions, to learn how to love being alone again.

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I’ll be sure to track my progress and write on how it goes.

Do you love alone time or avoid it? What strategies do you use to love your alone time?

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