The power of time alone
When was the last period where you really spent time alone? Not just an evening where you got the TV to yourself, but truly alone? I realised apart from a few odd weekends where my partner was away, I have never been alone for more than 2 days at a time. If I've known in advance I will be alone for more than 2 days I will have scheduled some time with some friends or travelled back to my family home.
I've questioned more and more recently what would it be like if I had lived alone or what will I be like if I travel alone? So, along with my little camper van nicknamed Maisie, I plucked up the courage and took a 6 day long trip on my own 2 weeks ago around the north of the UK.
I was so anxious before I left, I had so much to do to get prepared physically - packing, sorting the camper van, food shopping etc, but the practical stuff doesn't bother me. It was the mental side of things. How would I cope alone? How would I cope with any loneliness? What if something went wrong, who would I turn to? I also had a lot of background things to sort for my bereavement support group I am running and was exhausted after a bad couple of week's sleep. So overall wasn't feeling in the best place to feel confident and excited about going away.
But I'm glad to say absolutely nothing went wrong. It was all okay. Well it was more than okay I had an amazing time. And here is what I learnt that I wanted to share with you.
You are capable. You are capable of making decisions. You are capable of being alone. You are capable of travelling. You are capable of coping. So often and so easily we rely on others to help us make decisions - even down to the little things like 'what should we have for dinner tonight' or 'shall we park here?' When in reality we don't need other people to confirm these things, we can decide and stand by our decisions. It really showed me how often I ask for back up for my decisions without realising it, when in fact my decisions are fine and aren't often disastrous, I don't really need this back up but I choose to seek it.
If anything did go horribly wrong (which it didn't) you would cope, there would always be a solution. Flat tyre? Ask for help. Lost? Ask for help. Unwell? Ask for help. If you can put yourself out there, the majority of people will help you. This helps you feel human and connected to others. No one is going to think you are weak or think badly of you, they are simply going to want to help you. And if they don't help you or think otherwise about you they aren't worth your time and your worth is not determined by someone like that. Your worth is only determined by you.
Time alone allows you to think, to really think. Especially travelling alone where there is little signal. On my first 2 days, I spent my time in the beautiful Upper Swaledale. There were fields and sheep for miles, but no signal. It was absolutely heavenly, my partner and family had my location and I texted them to tell them I was safe once I got wifi at a little tearoom. But apart from that I switched off from the outside world and was alone with my thoughts. Often people find this scary and run away from them with use of distraction, but it is never as bad as you think to face your emotions and thoughts, otherwise we end up on a never ending carousel that we cannot get off. Space to think allows you to process, heal and organise what thoughts and feelings need to stay and which are inaccurate and can be let go of. On that day it was the 2 year anniversary since my step mum died. I faced my feelings and I faced the day, the sun shone on my face and I allowed myself the time and space to reflect that actually I was doing okay.
Being alone and not having to cater to anyone else's needs allows us to do exactly what we want. Now I understand if your first thought is that that sounds selfish. Doing exactly what we want when we want isn't always possible, especially when we live with someone else or have children. But this is a reminder even more for us to have time alone, so we can cater to our own needs and no one elses. This allowed me to go walking when I wanted, eat when I wanted, sight see or rest when I wanted. It allows us to then get in touch with exactly what we need from that day and how we are going to satisfy that need. When we distract ourselves with busyness or meeting other people's needs, how are we possibly going to fulfill our own and look after ourselves?
As a result, we need time to ourselves to know how we really feel.
With this, I found it took me nearly a whole day just to unwind and turn on holiday mode, from the busyness of life, teaching me I need to switch off my TV and phone more and truly unplug from day to day life. And teaching me that I really don't need to be on my phone as much as I am, I prefer real conversations and reading and being in nature.
So, the next time you feel some alone time, take it. You can always come home or arrange to see someone if it feels too much. See what positives being alone brings you and what this alone time may have been telling you that you needed.
Look after yourself today,