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Learning to Be Happy Alone
by Carolyn Bushong

When I talk to women about learning to be alone, many of them say, "But I don't want to learn to be alone. I've spent my whole life making sure I wouldn't have to be." Women often believe that being alone means that no one wants to be with them and that they're unloved. The main reason many women fear being alone is because when we are alone, our paranoias and insecurities appear. Being with someone else is like having a fix—we stay so involved with them that we don't have to deal with our own thoughts and fears. As little girls, we learn to try very hard to hide from things we're afraid of. When we're afraid of the dark, we leave the light on; when we're afraid of being yelled at by dad, mommy covers for us. We are never taught how to, or are expected to, face fears and overcome them.

Without spending time alone, you cannot feed the soul, stay in tune with yourself, or learn to face fears. The void that you feel from time to time will be filled by developing a relationship with yourself and learning to handle your fears. A sense of spirituality and a feeling of oneness with the universe will develop as a natural by-product of spending
creative time alone focused on yourself.

Without time alone, we become confused as to who we are. We feel empty because we don't have an intimate relationship with ourselves. Then we feel scattered and unclear when dealing with others because we have no solid core; therefore, when we're around others constantly, we become reflections of them. We end up so confused that we don't know who we are or what we want from someone else. Reflecting our identities off of others can also be incredibly draining. People often ask me how I have so much energy and I tell them, "I spend a great deal of time alone reenergizing myself." Once you take the time alone to know yourself, you will find that your time alone will give you energy and help you stay strong and "on track" in your relationships.

You must give up the fantasy that anyone can, or ever will, "be there" for you totally, and accept yourself as ultimately alone in this world. Terri Schultz says it best in her book Bittersweet: "Until you know that you are the most important person in your life, you cannot let anyone else become important to you without feeling threatened by it."2

You must make a promise that your primary relationship will always be the one with yourself. Continual peace with yourself must be your ultimate goal. Staying in touch with your feelings and desires as you change is the process by which you learn about the "real" you—and book Gift From the Sea, becoming self-reliant involves learning "how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel."

Aloneness is a requirement for facing fears and issues and working them through. Only when we're alone can we get in touch with our feelings of insecurity so that we can overcome them. Only when we're in touch with these insecurities can we become clear about a direct course of action needed to take charge of our lives.

Alone time can be one of the most positive and creative times in one's life. It's a time to find and appreciate our own uniqueness, a time to get in touch with our real feelings without fear of how others will perceive us, a time to open our senses to the world and really see, smell, touch, hear, and taste. You will get stronger and stronger, learn to rely on yourself more and more, and finally fall in love with yourself!

Setting Aside Alone Time

Though it may seem difficult, in order to work through this program it will be necessary for you to set aside this time alone by making dates with yourself. You won't be able to do these exercises at the office, at home with family, or in the presence of the TV or ringing phones. You must have as much uninterrupted time as possible. You will need to set limits with yourself and others, such as turning on your answering machine and recording something like, "I'm working on a project this weekend and won't be answering the phone. Please leave a message and I'll return your call if it's urgent. Other calls will be returned next week."

To get to know yourself, you must make this alone time a priority—the way you would make time for a new man in your life. Instead of trying to figure out what he would like or what his favorite foods might be, think about yours. You may have trouble telling a friend, "I can't go skiing this weekend because I need to spend the weekend alone working on myself and becoming self-reliant." He or she might think you've lost your mind, or at least think you're being rude and self-centered. But you will have to have the courage to go against the grain of approval to be able to complete this program.

Spending a short time alone now and then won't do it. This must be a creative, committed endeavor. Limiting the time you have with yourself will keep you from accomplishing the task. You must have enough time to allow your mind to wander, to go on an inward journey on an internal winding staircase of thought. The answers to your life are in there and only you can find them. No one else!

To some it will seem silly to spend some time alone every week or every day. It may even seem selfish, especially if you have a husband and children and/or a job that demand your time. Your instinct will probably be to feel unjustified in doing this. But finding and spending time alone is one of the most crucial steps in attaining and maintaining emotional self-reliance.

For more on this topic, see my book Loving Him Without Losing You.
 

Carolyn Bushong, Relationship Therapist
360 So. Monroe St., Suite 290
Denver, CO 80209
303-333-1888
carolyn@carolynsays.com

   

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