My friend had just broken up with his partner of several years.
He asked me: You seem good with being alone with yourself. Do you have any tips?
I had also gone through a breakup several years ago, and it felt like a deep severing from a place I did not belong that would allow me to return to myself.
I told him:
I spent lots of time on the couch with Zaak (my dog), crying and grieving. It was painful. I sat with myself, feeling all the sadness, the grief, the wanting to reach out to my ex, the not reaching out to him, and i felt it and stayed with myself and let myself feel it all. This is an important part, perhaps the most important part of learning to be okay with being alone. Because if you can be with yourself when you are going through difficult emotions and not abandon yourself by trying to change the subject, go do something else, find some distraction then you can show yourself that you can handle yourself, your emotions, that you are truly and deeply there for yourself. Maybe you pick yourself up and go to yoga the next day, or try to nourish yourself with some good food or be good or gentle to yourself in whatever way you need. This is important. Because you are showing yourself that you love yourself and that even on your own, you are worth taking care of yourself. You are worth taking care of yourself even when it feels like there is no one else there. Even if you are crying on your own couch, you are there for you. You don’t go anywhere. You stay present to yourself. If your friend was crying, you would stay there and be there and not try to fix it; you’d ask if they’d like some tea. You’d let them sleep and you’d check in with them later. This is exactly what we learn to do for ourselves and when we do this, we learn how to be alone without feeling lonely because you are there for yourself. Even if you do feel lonely, that’s okay, you are there for yourself. One important way of understanding may be that emotions are not bigger than us, how can they be? We contain and are the holders of our emotions. Our emotions are not bigger than us. If we can stay present to them, without running away from them, we can feel them and let them pass through us. It is okay to reach out to someone, like a therapist for help.
Next, you need to get to know yourself as you are now. Sometimes life, jobs, relationships can pull us away from who we are. Who are you? What do you love? What do you love when you are alone when it is just you? Nourish that. Nurture that. Reclaim yourself. If you have changed yourself to fit into another place or space, you can let go of that now and repatriate yourself, remember who you are, what you do. You may be reclaiming ways that you once were as you may be meeting the way that you do things now. You are meeting yourself again. Explore. Be curious. Be loving.
If you’ve left a relationship or this may apply to some other area in your life, and you have a tendency to caretake others, avoid the tendency to check up on or continue to nourish the other person. You are on a new path and so are they. Of course this is different if there is alimony or kids involved and so forth. Use your common sense. If it is a basic break up, say thank you and get your things and move on. You have broken up for a reason and your new life and renewed self is calling you. If you continue to focus on the other person then you will be abandoning yourself. This is about being there for yourself.
Next, if you can’t spend time alone — you are distracting yourself with food, video games, scrolling, shopping, drugs, alcohol then you are avoiding something. What is it? This is your work. No amount of drugs or distraction will wipe the blues or the trauma you’ve experienced away. It is like the story of the princess and the pea. No matter how many mattresses are piled on top of the pea, you will still feel the lump of the pea. Our job, should we choose to accept it, if we wish to feel at home in ourselves is to do the work to heal those places within us. This is your journey.
And then you do you. You do the things and go to the places that call you and that scare you. Maybe you’ve already done that as you spend time repatriating and remembering yourself. And you continue to do that. And life will lead you to the places and faces that you are meant to meet to nourish that deeper part of you. Then when you really are ready to step out into the world to meet people you will do so in a way where you are not stepping outside yourself in order to meet the other. You will be meeting other while being rooted deeply in yourself; not seeking in the other something you haven’t yet located in yourself - like love for example.
When you walk in the forest or sit by the lake, when you are somewhere in nature you feel that you are not alone, that nature holds you, accepts you, understands you and even speaks to you if you take the time to listen. Nature is a great healer and I believe that she helps us in our process of being with ourselves; we are her and are always connected to her. Enter her arms and you will feel held, completely.
This is how you conquer your own loneliness. Remember that Alone can be All One. Xo
Psychotherapy, Spiritual Direction, Yoga, Buddhism, the Path of the Heart, and Surfing... Find my musings here...