You will never truly know yourself unless you spend genuine time with yourself.
Why is spending time alone important?
It’s important because it’s scary. It’s scary because it’s meaningful. There are some fundamental truths about spending time alone which are inescapable in the pursuit of a happy life. Being alone is time well spent if one is seeking to live a fulfilled life.
So why? Why is it meaningful? Fundamentally if we fill all our space with others or things we never allow ourselves to see through our own clear perspective. The thing I found in therapy can also be found in solitude.
Now I don’t mean sitting in a dark room ruminating on who we are like a crazy person. Although meditation can be a great tool for understanding the concept of the self and something I have found great relief and calming results from.
If every day is filled with stimulus and people – all day at work, at home with roommates or partners, or the brief moment we do get to ourselves is stuffed with social media (large-scale connection to people). Our perspective of the world is heavily influenced by all the junk we take in throughout the day. Off-hand comments from colleges or particular views of people close to us. It’s all information getting sucked into our psyche and shaping how we see things.
If we only ever see our reality through the noise of other people our perspective becomes clouded and skewed.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohan
Habitually and ideologically.
I recently watched the documentary STUTZ – where Jonah Hill and his therapist explore their past sessions. One of the fundamental concepts that Phil Stutz has coined is the ‘Life Force’
The life force is the essence of the human psyche. As he puts it – if we take care of our life force everything else will fall into place. The life force consists of the Body, People and Yourself. In this hierarchy.
This I agree with. Body, People and Yourself are the core aspects of human experience that insight meaning and happiness. If we put effort into these aspects of our life we will see meaningful results. However, what I do disagree with is the order. Phil Stutz puts the relationship with yourself at the tip of the human experience. I believe that it’s near impossible to have really authentic worthwhile relationships with other unless the relationship with the self is taken care of.
For me, I think the life force should be comprised of the body as the foundation. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to take care of the vessel that carries us through the world. We should respect our bodies the same way we respect the most valuable possessions in our life. Challenge the body and be kind to it. It is everything to us. It’s how we navigate the world.
Next comes the relationship with ourselves. Your relationship with YOU. This is really hard if we don’t respect what comes before this. If we are critical of the body we are automatically critical of the soul. It sounds clique but being in love with who you are is so liberating and adds some much value to your life. Not in the egotistical sense either. Just genuine care and respect for who you are. Spend time developing this relationship. Take yourself to the movies alone or on a lunch date. Travel the world alone. All of it is valuable. Spending time alone is time well spent. Get to know yourself by putting in quality time with yourself.
Using love languages is great with other people. Even better when you partake in them alone. Quality time, words of affirmation, gifts. All of it strengthens our most fundamental and important relationship. Our own.
Then finally we need to put effort into the relationships with the people close to us. Admittedly I find this the hardest. Because it is hard. Being the best version of ourselves so that we only add value to the people around us can only come if we create that value from within. Again for me, this is what this blog is about. I have felt as if I have created value within myself through self-reflection and alone time. So I want to share it with the world.
A lot of the time people put all their effort into relationships with other people and lose sight of themselves. The more we care about what other people think of us or try to make other people’s lives better the quicker we lose our own unique perspective. Imagine if you put as much effort into the relationship with yourself as you put into your most valued relationships with other people.
Now I am not saying you should stop putting effort into the most important relationships in your life.
Quite the opposite actually. By taking some extra time out of your day, week or month to spend it alone and nurture your relationship with yourself – you will in turn nurture your relationships with others. Building more deep relationships comes from having a deeper experience to share with the people around you.
Writing acts as a mirror. Journal down your thoughts, read back what you come up with and develop a relationship with that person. The best part is – if you don’t like what you see back you have the power to change it. Spend time with that person to understand why it is you are like that. Once you understand, it’s easy to make a change.
The general theme so far of all these blogs is to focus on yourself and then everything else. You can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself. Being the best version of yourself elevates everything else around you. A rising tide lifts all boats – be the rising tide in your community, family or friend group.