“This life is mine alone. So, I have stopped asking people for directions to places they have never been”– Glennon Doyle.
Even the most outgoing amongst us need some time out just for ourselves every so often. Whether you’re a definite extrovert, painfully introverted, or a changing combination of both, a little sacred alone time is guaranteed to boost your emotions and make you a happier, more content person. While it’s always an enriching experience to surround yourself with people who make you feel better about yourself, and who possess the ability to lift you up, there are also many additional benefits to enjoying some alone time with yourself.
When it comes to this topic, I think of my life as divided into two parts. For much of my childhood, teenage years and early adulthood, I craved company around the clock. I never believed I was fully functioning unless I was in the company of others, who would help inform how I was thinking, what I was feeling and even what it was I wanted to do. I, unconsciously, and repeatedly, handed over my power to anyone who would take it. It wasn’t intentional, or deliberate, it was just how I believed things were done.
Then life experiences dealt me a series of cruel blows, in my thirties, and everything changed. I changed. The woman that emerged in this second chapter was a much more thoughtful, reflective version and someone that had started to see that she, in truth, had no clue about what it was that she wanted from her own life.
I did the necessary work on myself, over several years, and I was fortunate enough to get some answers. The most surprising one of them all was discovering I wasn’t the social animal I thought I was. I had gone from sniffing out the mere hint of a party, or gathering, to doing everything in my power to avoid them. I went from buzzing when I was in large groups of my friends to preferring nothing more than a one-to-one conversation.
Throughout all of this, I still felt very much like the same person, what I believe changed were my values. What mattered to me now was just different than what mattered before. It wasn’t that it was better, it was just different.
If this resonates, don’t underestimate the influence that age has on all of this too. You reach a time in your life where these changes naturally occur, but for me, it was the stark contrast between what had fuelled me before, and what now filled me up in a much more meaningful way.
I discovered that I simply didn’t need to find validation from others, I didn’t need to feel I should be everywhere or to put the needs of others ahead of my own. I had started down a path that would enable me to reclaim my power and stop giving it away. I had learned that the answers to all my questions about life were inside me if I just paused and allowed myself to listen.
Alone time needs to be a choice. Yet when you choose to spend time with yourself, whether it’s a simple act of going out for a walk, taking a bath, sitting with your book or choosing to go on a trip to the cinema with your own company, it can feel incredibly freeing and powerful.
THE BENEFITS OF CHOOSING ALONE TIME
TIME TO RECHARGE
Life is busy. We are all trying hard to juggle commitments and responsibilities with our friends, our families, our careers, our health, our finances and of course ourselves! We attend to all of these things, on repeat, and often the opportunity to do more of what we love slips away from us. When we take time out, when we do something that we love, it nurtures and energises us deeply. But we don’t always see that it should be a priority. Think about what that might be for you and do it. If you don’t put it in your schedule, it simply won’t happen.
TIME TO THINK
I’m a big advocate of the power of journaling. Taking that time each day to allow your thoughts to move from your mind to paper, in an unfiltered fashion, is liberating and a wonderful example of an act of self-love. Taking that small chunk of time to yourself, before you dive into the business of your day, is beneficial in ways you might not even expect. I challenge you to create this daily practice and acknowledge the differences in you!
TIME TO GROUND
Time in nature always feels more powerful when you’re alone. Without the distractions of others, you can fully absorb the colours, the smells, the sounds, the vista with much greater clarity. It feels quite magical, this time of the year, to be walking through the leaves, observing the different colours and feeding off the energy of change that is all around us. It’s also incredible what thoughts you will allow in when you’re in the silence of nature.
Why do we talk about being introverted as if it is a cross to bear? I love being an introvert. It has helped me to reconnect with myself so much more. I also feel more than a little lucky to have known what it was like, on the other side, so I can appreciate this so much more.
Think of alone time like that time when you pause those voices in your head so that you can hear what your voice is saying to you. When you do this, when you become more comfortable on your own, doing more of what you love, you will find that when you choose to be in the company of others you are all the better for it, and they will be too!
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change and Transformation Coach, Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme and host of The TOUGH LOVE ENERGY™ Podcast. She’s known for her practical solutions to life’s challenges and her ability to tell you not what you want to hear but always what you need. For more check out niamhennis.com or find her on Instagram @1niamhennis.