The house is quiet, no one is home, there’s nothing to do, and you have one of two choices…
- You can feel lonely, sad that no one is with you, bored, and uncomfortable, OR…
- You can feel at peace, embracing your free time, excited to enjoy yourself
Which would you normally choose?
It’s been interesting to me as I work with my clients how often most of them express that they struggle with alone time when we first begin working together. Here are some examples of what they’ve said:
- I come home from work, and I know I have about an hour before my husband gets home. I’m hungry, so I just begin snacking. No one is there to see me, I just do it.
- I end the day watching a show, I realize I’m alone, and I just eat. Sometimes I even plan to stay in for the night, JUST because I know I can do this (full post on this here).
- I make myself dinner, but I have no one to share it with. This just makes me feel worse about being single, and I don’t enjoy it. It’s a reminder that I’m alone. So I don’t cook for myself.
- I binge when my roommates are gone. I have the whole house to myself – it’s a window of opportunity, and I can’t stop doing it.
- When the day ends, and the kids are in bed, I get snacky. I head to the freezer for chocolate. I go back to bed/the couch, realize I want more, and repeat this same walk to the freezer walk over again several times. I feel bad, and I wonder why I do this. It feels out of control.
Relate to any of the above? Or have your own example of what you feel/do when you’re alone? Share it with me in the comments, because I’d love to hear!
This is so common. So many of us struggle with being alone.
It’s like we’re not sure what to do with ourselves, or we confuse being “alone” with being “lonely,” or we see being alone as an opportunity to do things that we don’t want other people to see us doing (like binge eating or eating something we consider “bad”).
How do we do to make this better? HOW do we stop having being alone be a window of opportunity to feel bad?
There are a few things that come to my mind:
- Embrace it
- Learn to enjoy it
- Define it
- Visualize it
First, we need to EMBRACE it. Alone time is awesome. Alone time is an opportunity to get to know yourself. To hang with yourself. To do whatever the heck you want to do. It’s basically like play time.
What did your alone time look like when you were a kid? Did you get alone time? How did it go? Actually, get really curious about this, because I wonder if it can teach us anything about how we treat alone time today.
For example, I was the third child. My parents did NOT fill my schedule with sports, to-do’s, extra circulars, etc. Nope, I had a wide open schedule most of the time, and I loved it. My childhood self loved to play with friends at home, play out in the street, be creative in making up my own super-dorky but awesome games.
The childhood me loved to have a day wide open to focus on something I wanted to do for HOURS. Like, redecorate my entire room and rearrange all of the furniture. Or, play the Sims for HOURS and learn cheat codes (sorry!) so I could do what I actually wanted: decorate the houses (you always ran out of money!).
Play with my baby dolls and set up homes for them. Drop them off at a friends house down the street (yes, like actually drop them off) and pretend they were going to day care for the day. Play barbies, again, not for the barbies, but to set up their houses. I LOVED setting up houses.
Have play time in my garage playing school, which was one of my FAVORITE things to do. I loved being the teacher. Our garage was set up with a white board, 2-3 student desks, a teachers desk, pencil baskets, “homework” folders, a bell to ring, etc… you name it. I LOVED playing teacher. I loved my desk.
There was a time in my teens where I was uncomfortable with free time and didn’t know what to do with it. I’d feel lonely, bored, and would want to distract myself with mindless things. But today, I EMBRACE it. Peaking into my child hood free time gives me a ton of insight on how I treat my free time now.
Learn to Enjoy It
Last night I was hanging out with my friend Asia – who was just traveling for 3 weeks – and I said to her “do you know that other than Costco and Target, I basically did not leave my house while you were gone?” She laaaaughed. She knows that when she’s home we do things, like, everyday (& I love it!).
But really. When Asia left town I thought to myself “I could call other friends and plan out a bunch of things… OR I could just really soak in the time I have AT HOME because I haven’t been able to do that in so long.” I chose to soak in time at home. And you know what I did more of?
- Staying in my PJ’s extra long in the morning
- Redecorating and reorganizing my office & closet
- Lighting candles & turning on the Netflix fireplace (since we don’t have a real one, haha)
- Spending hours making a 2017 vision board
- Journaling & reading
- Playing music all day long
- Going over my finances for 2016, without rushing (I love this stuff!)
- Watching a few extra Netflix shows, whenever it felt right
- Deeeeecluttering (nothing makes me happier – aaaaahhh!)
Just HANGING out with myself. And I loved every minute. I loved waking up to several days that were a blank canvas. NOTHING planned, nothing to do. I could use my time however I wanted. There were no rules. It was ME-TIME.
As I look back into what I liked to do as a child, most of what I love to do today are the exact same things. I truly love alone time. I love being with friends, I love visiting, I love grabbing coffee, I love working with friends, I love all of it, but I cherish alone time. I enjoy it & need it.
For you… Let’s get to RE-defining your alone time. What does it currently look like? When you see a blank space in your calendar, how do you feel? Do you look forward to it? Does it freak you out a little bit? Do you try and fill it?
Now, how do you WANT to feel when you see a blank space in your calendar? What do you WANT to be able to use your alone time for? Do you want to be able to just lay in your bed, all alone, and feel great about that? Do you want to be able to take advantage of those alone hours to work on what inspires you?
Write it down. Capture this. Let yourself really explore what alone time will mean to you moving forward.
And if you looked back over your childhood and thought: JEEZE, I DIDN’T have alone time. We were go-go-go! Then, just allow that to teach you how you learned to be so go-go-go. Perhaps it’s a reason why you’re not sure what the heck to do when a blank space hits your calendar – why it’s uncomfortable.
This isn’t a bad thing. You’re an adult, and you’re now allowed to re-define alone time for yourself in WHATEVER way you want to. No matter how much alone time you get in a week – 5 minutes or 5 hours, you get to choose to define what that time looks like. No one else can do that for you.
Once you’ve defined your alone time, sit with it. Get ALONE, close your eyes, and visualize it. Watch yourself as if you were watching yourself on a movie screen. See yourself embracing alone time in the way you’ve just defined it. What does that look like? How does it feel? What are you doing? Picture it. See it happening.
I LOVE visualizing. Often, on a client call, one of my girls will say something like “but like, HOW do I not get on the scale. I don’t want to weigh myself anymore, but on the weekend, when I’ve been extra bad, the temptation is just too strong. I can say I won’t now… but when it comes down to it, I freak out a bit!”
So we’ll stop, close our eyes, and visualize what success would feel like in this area. We’ll sit through the feelings of freaking out, we’ll sit through the thoughts that come up during that time, and we’ll visualize ourselves taking a new route. And the client will feel more peace – “I can do this. It’ll be okay.”
Now, GO For It
You are powerful! You are capable of change, and you are capable of creating a life that you love. You are capable of letting go of past habits and behaviors and patterns that are no longer serving you. This kind of change is not set aside for anyone “special.” It’s set aside for ALL of us to take hold of.
If you struggle to let go of rules, “should’s” (“I SHOULD be doing this in my free time, so I can’t ENJOY alone time”), and old behaviors or choices that are no longer serving you, I want to support you. I have a group program that will do just that – Authentically You, we start Monday January 23rd and go for 8-weeks.
I would LOVE to hear how you’re going to embrace your alone time now. How’d you define it? When you visualized it, how did that feel? What came up for you?
- What To Do When You’re Alone For A Weekend
- How to Be Mindful When Eating Alone
- What I Did On A Day Spent With Myself (this is when we first moved to SLO and I opened up about alone time being uncomfortable at times because I craved company)
- Why It’s Important To Learn How to Feel Uncomfortable Feelings