If there’s anything I know first-hand, it’s tried and tested ways to do being alone well.
Now what works for me will not work for everyone, but after 8 years of practice I know I’ve got some universal wisdom up my sleeve I can pass on. If this helps at least one other person during this difficult time, I think it’s worth writing.
Though I live with my daughter, I still spend a lot of time by myself which has taken a significant amount of adjusting to over the years. If you work mostly from home and live without a partner you’ll perhaps recognise where I’m coming from.
Before I go further, I'd intended to have 5 best practices for doing alone well on one post. By number 4 it was approaching an epic 2000 words. To that effect this is Part 1 with the others to follow in subsequent posts.
Back to it. When this pandemic hit, I knew it’d mean little change to my everyday life. You may have seen the meme’s ‘when you realise quarantine is your life?’ They’re talking about me.
My social circle’s small. When I’m not coaching, my weeks consist of trips to the supermarket, the school drive, exercise in nature. Life now looks the same with the exception of in-person client meetings and the school-drive.
Like many of you, COVID19 means much uncertainty around my work which affects our livelihood. The pre-cursor to my pandemic is that I’ve been facing this same uncertainty for the past six months. To that effect, I’ve already had to adapt at great personal cost and feel I’ve fought my mental battle ahead of time.
Six weeks into the pandemic, I’m consistently strong, unshaken, and centered. Yet I know others are struggling, and so I feel a duty to share what I know has helped me.
The deeper cries I read on social, echo many soul searching and messy seasons I’ve endured before the pandemic. I read of loneliness, loss, anxiety, personal doubt, weakened coping-strategies, and out-of-control behaviours. I can’t help but hear them because I’ve lived them.
I give you this context so you know these are practices I’ve used personally over a sustained period. It’s not a best-guess from someone who’s never faced circumstances like this in their life.
So, here’s part one of the 5 practices and tools I use to give myself that foot-up into feeling content, fulfilled, and good about life.
1. Allow your feelings & emotions – but watch the wallowing
It’s widely known that the healthy way to process feelings, is to feel them. Blocking or suppressing only comes back to bite us on the ass at a later date.
If you’re feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, anxious, alone, fed-up or numb, call it out.
Having said the above, we don’t always know that what we’re feeling IS LONELINESS. Loneliness has historically had such a stigma attached to it. I listened to an amazing Brené Brown podcast whilst writing this post. I know it’ll help some of you so will include it at the bottom.
Recognising how we feel means we validate ourselves and the feelings we’re experiencing.
For the record, I don’t think now’s the best time to start tackling big issues or doing deep work unless you’re certain that’s the right thing for you to be doing. I’ve spent many hours doing this. ‘Sitting with’ aloneness and loneliness, grief, pain, boredom, purposelessness…? I’m not gonna lie, it sucks. Big time.
Over the years I’ve experimented with a lot of ‘sitting with’ versus ‘doing’. The former feels painful and passive. The latter often feels forced but my mind says at least it feels progressive. I think there’s no one size
… I mean at what point do you settle ‘enough’s enough’ and kick yourself into touch?
My conclusion is that taking positive action is never not a good idea. So witness your ‘stuff’ surfacing and take action to help yourself stay buoyant. Now’s a time for staying sane and doing all we can to help ourselves through this pandemic season. And that will look like different things for each of us.
An Integrated Way To Move Through Feelings
The next time you find yourself experiencing lower-vibrational feelings try these two things:
1. Acknowledge your feeling. Then ask yourself what the feeling is. Can you name it? Is it accurate?
We’re so used to hurtling through life that rarely do we pause to run a background-check on our thoughts and feelings.
95% of our days we live on autopilot, which includes the conditioning of our mind to think and feel in certain ways. Is the way you’re feeling, and the narrative that goes with it one you even chose?
2. Let it go… or don’t. Once you’ve acknowledged the way you feel, you can choose to hold on to it or let it go. To release it.
Easier said than done right? I know! If you’ve ever tried to snap out of something and it just didn’t happen you’ll know it’s a challenge to go from reverse to forwards in one. From negative emotion-states to positive.
What can get us there if we want to feel better but are having a hard time putting reverse into first, is truth-based thoughts and/or appreciation.
- Truth-Based Thoughts
The feeling: I feel terrible because I’m over-eating and drinking. I’m yelling at my family, I look a mess. Life’s a mess. Feelings of judgement of ourselves and possibly by others (especially if it’s verified on social), shame, unworthiness… you know the score.
The thought: I’m a horrible person. I’m handling this so bad. I normally have my shit together and now I can’t even stay indoors and cope, it’s not like I’m on the front line or anything. Our grandparents had the war and coped, what’s wrong with me?
The truth: “I’m experiencing life in a one-of-a-kind way that I (and the history of womankind) never has before. I’m doing my honest best”.
Appreciation is a first-rung-on-the-ladder-up higher thought. You can do it when you don’t feel anything is going right with the world. You don’t even have to feel grateful to appreciate.
I’ve found that even when I was too mad at the Universe to feel like choosing positive thoughts, or when just being alive hurt, that even then I could appreciate something. If I wanted to.
3. Show yourself kindness
We’re so good at being the critic, less so at showing ourselves loving kindness. Treat yourself as kindly as you would a dear friend. As you move through your days and all those feelings surface, allow for them, but don’t judge yourself. Then consider:
what one positive choice could I make to help myself feel better and the day pass easier?”
Thanks for being here. Stay safe and I’ll be back with part 2 soon!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
The 3 posts I’ve written on thought health. Part One is here Principles For Upgrading Thought Health.)
The Brene Brown Podcast mentioned earlier: Dr. Vivek Murthy and Brené on loneliness and connection