Have you ever felt like you wanted life to stop even just for a moment so that you could catch your breath?
There you go, the universe has granted your wish.
Now you can hit the snooze button as many times as you like, get on with the delayed spring cleaning and get your hands on all those books you wanted to read.
As “I’m sooo busy” has become our generation’s mantra, days like these offer fewer distractions and items to check off our to-do list. Also, if you had a severe case of FOMO, you can finally cure it by going cold turkey as all social gatherings have been put on hold or cancelled.
Even though being on your own should be the most natural thing you do, it appears that taking a slower pace and spending so much time in isolation has been a learning curve for many.
How so? Simply put, we’re experiencing the withdrawal symptoms of living overly accelerated lifestyles. As the constant chase of goals and the next big thing out there requires your focus to be externally oriented, no surprise you’re not feeling comfortable being in your own presence.
It’s easy to forget that there’s no finish line in life. One goal will lead to another, and your personal lessons will never end. This is the primary reason why befriending ourselves is crucial for determining the quality of our years to come.
Especially so, when nothing in life that is outside of your control is certain. Neither people nor things can ever be relied on as your constant source of happiness. This understanding puts the endless chase of targets into perspective—why cultivating your inner self lies the foundation for anything else in life.
All this free time presents you with an opportunity to direct your focus inwards and get to know yourself better, including the parts of you that you resent and the parts that you should embrace.
Solitude reveals who you are. But to achieve this revelation, you have to to be present and fully accepting of yourself. Not when you’ll have a master’s degree, own a house or lose 20 pounds.
Wondering how to get started? Here are some ideas that will help you become more authentic and learn about your true self.
Revisit your relationships with others
The concept of our relationships mirroring back to us who we are is not a novel idea. But it doesn’t mean that it’s overrated either. Some people bring out the best in you and some trigger a wave of adverse reaction.
Instead of blaming others, get into the habit of introspection. Stop for a moment and ask yourself: why do I feel provoked, and what was the trigger that set me off? People who cross our paths are there to show us the parts of ourselves that need attention or healing.
Feel all the “feels”
The expectation of always being happy and positive is unrealistic. Particularly if inside, you simply don’t feel this way. Then it all resembles a theatre performance of you resisting all the feelings that have been resurfacing.
As Carl Jung famously said, “What we resist, persists.” When we allow ourselves to feel all that there is, the emotional charge tends to dissipate. Your feelings serve as a lighthouse, shedding light towards the direction you need to go.
There’s no shortcut: you have to go through the difficult topics and events that make you teary and get your muscles tense. But don’t dwell in that state for too long, everything happened in the past after all.
Meditation is an excellent way to start exploring your past experiences and compulsive behaviours. Ask yourself questions such as: how do I feel? When was the last and the first time I experienced this exact same feeling?
Let your subconscious and inner voice be the guide.
Then, start the process of self-talk. Offer yourself kind and supportive words, and all the loving energy and patience you might need—the same way as you would do to your closest ones.
Remember to also make an inventory of your own actions. If you want something to change—be the change and start from yourself. Put out the actions and words that you wish to receive.
Embrace the uncertainty
For those who cling to control and certainty, now is the perfect time to discover the beauty of allowing. As a recovered perfectionist, learning how to let go of the outcomes was one of life’s most critical and liberating lessons.
Nothing in life is certain except the uncertainty itself. So you might as well embrace it to the fullest and view what the future brings with curiosity rather than fear.
Instead of obsessing about the outcome, focus on how you want to feel. When you surrender, you can instantly feel the energy become lighter. You can contact the desired emotion without an external stimulus.
Have a soulful practice
Once, at a meditation practice, I heard someone say “I’m here not because I feel down or have an issue. I view meditation as a habit to maintain my emotional wellbeing, not as a rescue vest when things get really terrible.”
Make meditation, journaling and grounding practices like walks in the nature part of your daily routine. The routine will help you become more in tune with your emotions and feelings, no matter how busy you are or what’s happening in the outer world.
Don’t believe everything your brain tells you
I genuinely think that everyone who is diagnosed with depression or anxiety should firstly be taught a class on how their brain works. There’s nothing innately wrong with you. More often than not, people simply ruminate and repeat negative thoughts that turn into loops.
Repeat after me: my brain is wired to keep me safe, not happy. A lot of your thinking patterns stemmed from your childhood and strengthened throughout your life.
If alcohol keeps you numb to avoid all those hurtful memories of how you never felt good enough when growing up, guess what—your mind will automatically encourage you to enact into the habit. The end goal is to keep you safe, whatever the means are.
But it doesn’t mean that you can’t change the way you think.
The simplest way to start breaking unhealthy thought cycles is by doing something unusual and this way breaking the state. Even little exercises work like stating your phone number backwards and singing a few lines from your favourite song will suffice.
Do this every time you feel the unpleasant thoughts are about to engulf you. Practice observing your thoughts but don’t attach to them. Don’t give your power away—a thought is just mind chatter unless an action empowers it.
Spending so much time indoors in isolation has been a learning experience for all of us, and no one’s excluded. But whether you allow boredom or escapism to creep in, or you aim at personal growth, you get to make this call.
Most importantly—stay healthy and safe 🙏🏻