Only in solitude do we find ourselves: and in finding ourselves, we find ourselves in all our brothers in solitude. —Miguel de Unamuno
We live in a world of noise and to-do lists, surrounded by people who need us: our children, partners, friends, coworkers, and bosses—so we tend to lose track of who we are. We go through the motions, trying to catch up with life, but of course we never do. So much of the day is about everyone and everything else, that we relegate ourselves to the bottom of the list. Yet our time is limited and we don’t want to realize one day that we lived our lives only serving others and never realizing our true potential.
In a 2012 article in The New York Times, Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says that “the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist.” She makes a case for solitude in a business world ruled by back-to-back meetings and conference calls, which are certainly not conducive to introspection.
So let’s find ways to unleash our creativity and learn to be alone with our thoughts.
HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR SOLITUDE
- As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must go to that quiet place within ourselves to remember who we are. Behind the scenes, we need to analyze whether this is the life we want, and then go back on stage and change what is not working for us.
- Exercise oxygenates our bodies and our minds. Going for a solitary run, a bike ride, or a walk on the beach is calming, and you will probably gain some perspective and insight while you are at it. Out in nature we find the quiet required to stop the mind chatter.
- Check into a nearby hotel, alone. People in our lives define us, but so much of ourselves is often taken up by others’ needs that we forget that we too are unique individuals. In solitude, we will be able to collect our thoughts and go back to our loved ones renewed and perhaps with a clearer picture of what we want. We need to know where to draw the line between our own needs and those of others. Talk to your spouse and make sure you both have time alone, even if it means stepping away from family life once in a while.
Read Related:Meditation on the Go: Mindfulness
- Write down your thoughts and feelings. Set it down on paper (not a smartphone, mind you), writing what you may be afraid to admit to yourself and others. This simple act will help you to see your life pattern. Once you are finished, decide how the story is going to continue. You can start a new chapter every day. Write a new script if you don’t like the one you are following.
- Take a few days off, if you can manage, and go solo. This will give you a sense of empowerment and independence. Pamper yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. You need and deserve the time to yourself. The world isn’t going to fall apart in two days if you delegate responsibilities, and take the time to be mindful of your own betterment. When you go back to the real world, everyone will reap the benefits of a more rested you.
- Treat yourself to simple bathtub retreats! No need to run off to a desert island to relax and think. Once in the water, focus on yourself, your thoughts, you. Avoid going over the long lists of things still left to do. This is your time, a time to regain your sanity away from the rat-race going on behind the closed bathroom door.
In order to be the best mother, wife, employee, first you need to take the time to be the best you! And that can only be done in solitude.