Solitude is a gift to your soul
“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” – Maya Angelou
For as long as I can remember I’ve relished any opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted time alone with my thoughts. I don’t ever recall a time where I’ve been lonely because I’m quite happy in my own company, after all there is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely. In fact, I’m much more likely to feel “a bit lost and alone” when in a group setting, especially if I’ve been spending the majority of my time engaging in social activities. I find the constant need to be “on” rather exhausting so, I’d much rather catch up over a coffee with one friend than go to an event with a group.
I guess some would deem it selfish, that I (sometimes) prefer to spend my free time alone, rather than spending that time with my kids or my husband, but both J and I know I’m a much nicer friend/partner and Mum if I’ve had a chance to “hibernate” for awhile and recharge my batteries, after all a bit of solitude is good – even for the most extroverted among us. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, so can being alone.
According to one article I read, we remember information better when we go it alone. Researchers explained that we’re inherently “distracted” and “’multitasking’” in the presence of others, attuned to their responses as well as the task at hand, which kind of makes sense. You know how when you are learning a new skill and lots of people will explain to you how they mastered the movement, but you don’t tend to master it yourself until you’re alone and nutting your way through it at your own pace? I think all crossfitters know exactly what I’m talking about. 😉
I’m not denying that we all need “a village” after all, we’ve evolved to rally together because, quite frankly, we had a better chance of survival than if we didn’t. But even the hunter/gatherer type existence of our forefathers, allowed time in solitude during their day to day tasks and in some societies they sent people off into solitude as a test of self-sufficiency, the individual returns to the group stronger, wiser, with more to offer the group as a result of the seclusion.
Today we live in a very different type of society, we feel the need to be constantly connected – just not to each other. In fact I vividly recall one weekend trip to Sydney that J and I took. We were having dinner at our hotel and the three couples seated around us were all fixated on their phones. One couple even bought their ipads along to dinner and had set them up in front of their plates so that he could read the newspaper and she could watch a TV show. Somewhere along the way, conversations became texts and feelings – status updates.
The act of solitude can in fact strengthen your relationships, it gives us the time and space to find out who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around. You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you’ve spent some time alone. Although it can be hard to disconnect the real benefits of solitude can’t be expressed in words, but must be found in doing.
Unplug – go for a walk, sit on the beach and listen to the waves, lie down on the grass and feel the sun on your skin. Be happy in your own company, after all, if you don’t want to hang out with you – why would anyone else?
Till next time