Being alone has always been difficult for me. Sitting with that solidarity, sinking into those feelings, confronting those thoughts.
But the truth is there is nothing stronger than fully being with oneself. In aloneness we tackle our deepest truest emotions and we come out stronger on the other side. We breathe in the sorrow and pain we feel. We embrace the difficult feelings and thoughts . We recognize them. We say “I see you and I accept that you are there. It is okay.” What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.. at least in terms of being with oneself.
But let me clarify what I mean by being with oneself. Recently I have gained a new understanding of what being alone means. In our youth mindsets we have to recalibrate our understanding of alone to fully disavow the presence and power of technology. That means – you got it – your smartphone, computer, social media, streaming services, Bluetooth connected devices, etc. Just because you are watching Netflix without “Netflix and chilling”, does not mean you are by yourself. Anything that will give your brain that instant boost of endorphins is distracting you from fully being alone.
To that point I would also argue that engaging with anything other than solely yourself – exercise or calling up a friend, for example – is a defense. In the age we live in there are ten-thousand possible defenses looming within reach that we must not fall prey to. If we are constantly falling victim to their power we are not able to embrace ourselves and how we truly regulate. The earlier we embrace ourselves the more control, understanding, and determination we will have over our journeys in life.
When we are with ourselves we let go of everything else, so that we may be with our body and mind and ride the swell of our core emotions. According to Hillary Hendel’s change triangle – which I find very helpful and will post below – we must not only relinquish our defenses, but we must also release what she terms “inhibitory emotions”, so that we may embrace our “core emotions”.
Many of use may be familiar with those “inhibitory emotions” – anxiety, shame and guilt – that block us off from feeling our “core emotions” – fear, anger, grief, joy, excitement, disgust, and sexual excitement. According to this model and my experience with it, it is critical that we learn how to release our defenses and inhibitory emotions and embrace our core emotions. Once we do this we can ride the swell of our core emotions and reach a more open-hearted state.
Here’s a visual model of the change triangle:
Now let’s briefly talk about the added difficulty of being with oneself when you live in an urban metropolis. Personally I live in New York City, but if you live in any city or have a town center where you are constantly surrounded by other people, scrounging for your own parcel of land, you will know what I mean. Being surrounded by people of all backgrounds and in different kinds of configurations all day long gives you a whole added layer of stimulus to process. Often it is just too much stimulus, and we cant process it all.
What I would recommend is to piece by piece try and take in all of the stimulus that is around us. Don’t shut it out. Piece by piece recognize how the world around you effects you. Interact with it. Then when you have time to yourself – in your room or in a park or cafe – process individually how all the stimulus around you is effecting you. What are the core emotions that you are experiencing? If you let this stimulus in and approach a big city in this way, you will come to grow stronger and more connected to yourself and your emotions.
If it is difficult to let the stimulus of the outside world in, I think it is okay to have a buffer. You can have a buffer on certain topics and still allow yourself to experience your core emotions in other realms. I think this departmentalization is okay as long as it is a conscious choice you are making and not a default defense mechanism to everything around you. It makes sense that it might feel easiest to follow the codes engrained in city life, like maintaining your personal bubble in the subway cart or elevator train. Not connecting at all times might be the sanest way to get through your day. If not always connecting to the outside worlds keeps our sanity intact and allows us to stay more connected to ourselves, I think this is the better option.
Those are my thoughts on being with oneself. Thanks for reading. #letstalkaboutit