“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
– Mark Twain
If there’s a benefit to having a mental illness it is this: While everyone else is struggling with social isolation, it doesn’t affect me at all. The coronavirus has helped me to hone the skills I work on daily for my mental health.
Understand that I am not saying that because I am gloating or because I feel superior. The truth is, my everyday life presents challenges and for years my goal has been to become comfortable in my own skin. So times like those we are in are my opportunity to shine.
Sadly, this virus has revealed the amount of unchecked mental illness in our society, manifesting in the worst of ways. People are paranoid, confused by half-truths reported in the media, and some resort to violence. However, the worst to me is the blatant disrespect for the health of others, the individualistic mindset, and the inability to be alone.
But what do we expect when we live in a society that doesn’t make mental health a priority?
Most struggle because they are “resisting what is”. Everyone wants life back to normal, to how things use to be. Sadly, longing for days passed and resisting what is just contributes to their turmoil. That being said, there is another component and that is fear.
Fear of the unknown, fear of getting sick or losing a loved one, fear of losing your job or the inability to pay rent… the list can go on and on.
Learn To Enjoy Your Own Company
The virus has certainly highlighted our inability to be alone and unfortunately, this can be debilitating for some.
This. Breaks. My. Heart.
It’s funny how mental illness can make you feel alone in your struggles when the truth is that most people experience the same issues. Because of this, I always believed I was alone with the difficulty being alone and made it my mission to enjoy my own company! I thought everyone else was in love with themselves… funny right? Now I can clearly see that a great majority struggle being alone with themselves.
From the person who feels worthless if they don’t leave their house daily to the person who refuses to watch a movie alone at the theater, both are suffering with the inability to be comfortable with themselves.
However, this can change and you can learn to enjoy your own company!
So what can you do to get comfortable with you?
Steps to Enjoy Time Alone With Yourself
First things first, you need to become a master of your “self” and become your own best friend. Why? Because it is vital that we know ourselves inside and out and treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, love, and when needed, brutal honesty just like we do for a bestie. To do this:
- Begin by paying attention to your inner dialogue. Do you: put yourself down, call yourself names, refer to yourself as stupid or dumb, call yourself “worthless”, or constantly run a negative dialogue in your head? If so, this is a perfect time to impliment mindfulness and meditation to increase your self-awareness, and then offer a positive “counter thought” for each of the negative you identify. (For more on this, check out my article Mindfulness for Depression and Anxiety or NewAge BS and learn the rubberband method I use to put an end to that nasty inner dialogue.)
- Master thy self. Do you know yourself well? You need to know what makes you tick, what triggers you, why you behave the way you do, your likes, dislikes, what your afraid of, what inspires you and what you value. In addition, note the things you don’t like as well. It is time to get to the root of who you are and determine these things so you can build upon this foundation and work towards self-improvement.
- Make a plan to improve both mentally and physically. Start working out. If the gym intimidates you, workout from home. Don’t allow excuses to hold you back. I live in a 5th wheel and use simple workouts using my own bodyweight. I love doing walk at home workouts like Leslie Sansone teaches and it requires nothing but your time. The mind can be worked out as well! Good mental health doesn’t come from doing nothing. It comes from putting the work in. Use workbooks and worksheets *my favorite is a DBT workbook (dialectical behavioral therapy), mindfulness workbook, and PTSD workbook).
- Know your worth. You can improve your self esteem by performing and mastering activities you enjoy, or learning something new and then mastering it. Along with this, it is important to find validation from within, not from others. Walk away from those who don’t treat you by your standards, or who are toxic for you.
- Stop worrying about what others think. Here’s a secret- everyone is the center of their own universe and more often than not, they are not thinking about you, they are thinking of themselves. If you live your life worried about what others think, you are building walls and shrinking your world. Instead, determine your own values and then live by them yourself.
We come into this world alone, and we leave it the same way. Build a relationship with yourself and learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Doing so brings about deep peace and contentment not found anywhere else in our life.
Remind yourself that being alone and lonely are two very different things. Find joy in courting yourself… go to dinner alone, grab a movie and pig out on some popcorn and soda, hit up the hobby shop. If those things are off limits and you are in quaratine, take up singing or dancing alone in your living room, find a podcast that interests you, read a good book or try out a new recipe. Learning to be by yourself and to enjoy it is the greatest gift that one can give to themselves!
Do you enjoy your alone time? What have you done to become more comfortable in your own skin?