‘Only in solitude do we find ourselves: and in finding ourselves, we find ourselves in all our brothers in solitude.” Miguel de Unamuno
We live in a world of noise and to do lists, surrounded by people who need us; our children, partners, friends, co-workers, and bosses, we tend to lose track of who we are. We live going through the motions, trying to catch up with life, but we never do. We have no time to retreat into solitude, but we must, or we will wake up one day wondering what happened, where our lives have gone, and who we have become.
So much of the day is about everyone and everything else, that we relegate ourselves to the bottom of the list. Our time is limited and we don’t want to realize one day that we lived our lives for someone else, only serving others and never realizing our true potential.
By retreating into solitude occasionally, we can find ourselves and then relate more authentically to others. Sitting quietly, alone, free to genuinely think and feel, solitude is necessary to maintain our sanity and identity. We too need a breather, an escape away from the chatter, a time out to think.
Where to find solitude and why it’s good for you:
- As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must go to that quiet place within ourselves to find our way, to remember who we are. We need to analyze if this is the life we want, and then change what is not working for us.
- Exercise oxygenates our bodies and our minds. Going for a solitary run, a bike ride, or a walk on the beach is calming, and you will probably gain some perspective and insight while you are at it. Out in nature, we find the quiet required to stop the chatter.
- Retreat from others. People in our lives define us, but so much of ourselves is often taken up by others’ needs that we forget that we too are unique individuals and need to decide if others are shaping our lives in excess. In solitude, we will be able to collect our thoughts and go back to our loved ones renewed and perhaps with a clearer picture of what we want for ourselves. We need to know where to draw the line between our own needs and those of others.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings. Set it down on paper, (not a smartphone, mind you), writing what you may be afraid to admit to yourself and others. This simple act will help you to see your life pattern. Once you are finished, you get to decide how the story is going to continue. Nobody is telling you what to write. You are your own editor. You can start a new chapter every day. Write the new script if you don’t like the one you are following.
- Take a few days off, if you can manage. This will give you a sense of empowerment and independence. Pamper yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. You need and deserve the time to yourself. The world isn’t going to fall apart in two days if you delegate responsibilities, and take the time to be mindful for your own betterment. Be there for yourself for once. When you go back to the real world, everyone will reap the benefits of a more rested you. Use this time alone to go over your priorities and return to your life a better, more centered version of yourself.
- Treat yourself to simple bathtub retreats! No need to run off to a desert island, relax and think, but try to focus on yourself, your thoughts, you. Avoid going over the long lists of things still left to do. This is your time, a time to regain your sanity away from the rat-race going on behind the closed bathroom door.
Solitude is like coming up for air while swimming, it keeps you going! Take some time for you in order to live your best life and be your best self for yourself and those around you!