The Superpower of Being Alone and Enjoying It
You can’t find happiness with an outside-in approach, it has to originate within you. When you master your inner thoughts, you can feel like an ordinary everyday superhero.
There are times I am scared of the things I think when I am alone. Can you relate? Modernity makes it so easy to avoid ourselves, to distract and be busy with our devices always within reach.
The false closeness and sensationalism of our social media relationships keep the feeling of loneliness at bay… for about 5 minutes. Then we rush off to the next task, justifying its importance to ourselves in the name of productivity. But really it’s about avoiding our own busy mind, keeping the cacophony of disturbing thoughts away until we collapse at the end of the day.
So if you’re feeling like I do sometimes, this article will help you with your experience of slowing down, and help you befriend your mind so you can enjoy real insight, connection, and unimaginable productivity.
How You Approach Being Alone Makes All the Difference
How you approach being alone is a mirror into your life, showing how you approach everything else. And how you approach being alone has everything to do with your state of mind.
If you are a runner for example, and you run a lot, there are many experiences you could have. You could run and let your mind unwind as you focus on the sensations of your body, loving the feeling of moving fast and feeling your heart pump. Or you could run and focus on all the painful things you’re thinking, and have a disconnect from your body.
Two very different experiences inside. One might see that the different experiences are related to the physical feeling, the fluidity of movement versus contraction and disconnection. One might say injuries and accidents are more likely in the second example, as reaction time and perception of the environment is limited.
This analogy works in nearly any setting you can think of: business meetings, spending time with family, making love, exercising, making art, etc. So it’s important to learn how to cultivate a positive experience around being alone. One that becomes about enjoying your state of mind, and how that makes you a very resilient and happy person, from the inside out.
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How I Came Full Circle With Stillness
In 2007 I went to Mexico to study yoga, and I had one of the most profound months of my life. I slept on the beach, moved my body everyday, explored daily meditation, and forged deep friendships. Away from modern life, I experienced a deeper connection with other people, and within myself, as my cadence slowed down. Something settled in me. When the noise quieted, I got a taste of another way to live. Many of the people who were a big part of my life in Mexico still are, because we stayed connected across continents, thanks to social media. Seems funny to me now, but I learned about meditation and social media both on that trip.
When I returned home I noticed an ease in my life, a clarity. Creativity came so easy, connection with others was fluid and close. I rarely felt insecure or awkward, and this easy confidence exuded from me.
Fast forward a decade or so. I experienced a period of, well, the opposite of clarity and peace. I sunk deeper into self doubt than I had ever before in my life. I had serious trouble with my state of mind and patterns of thinking. ‘Bad job, bad relationship, bad life.’
I began to notice a compulsiveness in myself with how often I was checking my social media accounts. I realized I was using Facebook and Instagram for relief. Distracting myself from the thoughts that crept in when I was alone… ‘what am I doing with my life… is this relationship right… where is my purpose… why don’t I feel certain of anything…?’ When I opened an app to escape I did feel brief relief, but soon enough I felt worse, more isolated. Just like a hangover from drinking, distracting away the loneliness left me with a social media hangover.
I hadn’t created art in so long, and when I did, it was only in black and white. I couldn’t hold the color. I felt like my creativity had drained out of me. The strange thing is, I was aware of all of this, the compulsive social media use, the isolating behavior, the creativity block, the intense strain my attitude created on my marriage… but I couldn’t stop. I was absolutely not interested in sitting still and listening to the cacophony of self deprecating thoughts running through my head.
“I was absolutely not interested in sitting still and listening to the cacophony of self deprecating thoughts running through my head.”
We All Have Disturbing Thoughts, but We Are Not Defined by Them
Thought is always changing, and whether we feel low or high directly impacts the quality of our thoughts. My disturbing thought was, ‘I don’t like who I am right now.’
I felt nauseous from the correlated yucky feeling associated with that thought. I felt myself start to contract, squirm and become restless. I realized I had no idea how to be alone with myself when I felt that way.
I had a flash of memories from that month on the beach over ten years ago, when I experienced something transformative in myself. I remembered how solid in myself I felt, peaceful, content.
Memories like this could make me feel self pity about how far I’ve ‘fallen’, starting a vicious comparison cycle. But this time something new occured to me: how I was feeling today was different than that trip in Mexico. Comparing my own experiences of myself objectively, I realized that if my experience can change in one direction, it can change in the other.
So I sat in the feelings instead of grabbing for my phone, or going for a ‘punishment run’. I sat there and felt shitty. Thoughts upon thoughts rolled in about what this meant, what that meant. I just stayed with the trust that my thoughts are always changing, and this will change too. I stayed objective.
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We Are Experiencing Our Perceptions, Not Reality
Realizing that I was only ever experiencing my perception of things… about myself, my environment, my situation, what I thought, everything changed in an instant. I’m only ever experiencing my personal perception and the feelings associated with the thoughts I was having.
There was such a thing as quality of thoughts. There was such a thing as reality before I perceived it through my personal lens. It’s so simple, of course I make up my own ‘reality’. All day every day. And so is everyone else. And we are all convinced that our ‘reality simulation’ is the right one.
“Comparing my own experiences of myself objectively, I realized that if my experience can change in one direction, it can change in the other.”
Sometimes, Nothing Needs to Be Done About Low Quality Thinking
Light bulb: sometimes our thoughts are shit, untrue garbage that comes from who-cares-where, and we don’t have to go with those thoughts. If we wait, just let ourselves settle down a bit, our experience of reality can change, and truth will emerge organically.
‘I don’t like ME.’ can replace, ‘I don’t like THIS.’
I began to have a very different inner experience with myself. Space opened up in my life that seemed lost forever. At first it was fleeting, and that frustrated me. I wanted inner peace now and forever. But that just doesn’t exist now does it?
I was a little annoyed at the yoga gurus of old, who made it seem like all I had to do was this and that practice, and inner peace would be mine. Well I came to understand, there is nothing I can do about how my state of mind or quality of thinking fluctuates. I cannot grab inner peace, even if I just had it a second ago.
What I can do is slow down when I feel the familiar feeling of low quality thinking and perception. I can relate to myself tenderly in times of confusion. I can trust life, and let go of all the things I used to ‘do’ to attempt to control my mind. The less I pushed against my experience, the faster it could change.
So I redesigned my lifestyle to model some behaviours that I was up to in Mexico. To make space for slowing down, to unplug, to take better care of myself, and to have fun. Along with my inner shifts and insights, things started to shift rapidly in my outer life too.
I felt compelled to be with my community again. The compulsive social media addiction no longer had me. Creativity returned to me, and I started painting Bold Colors. My marriage recovered, and loving enjoyment between us returned. I quit trying to fix myself, and got permission to love my flaws and care less about perfection.
We Can Love Being Alone, When We No Longer Fear Our Experience
There is an important moment here, where most articles share the ‘top 10 tips’ about how to be alone with yourself and enjoy it. When I wrote my first draft, I did that. I put a list of the outer things I started doing to help myself anchor these insights. But then I realized my prescriptions were irrelevant to anyone but me.
Just as I had a download of outer expressions that came after I made this inner shift, so will you. Your own unique self expression will blossom. Your inner genius will come online, and you will take a social media sabbatical, or go on a trip to Italy, sign up for that improv class, or reconnect with an old friend.
So, I have no illusions that this article will ‘wake you up’ to your true nature below thought, before perception. But perhaps is sparks a curiosity in you, what is really true? How can you play with being alone in your own life, and can you learn to enjoy it? Can you look for the ordinary meditative moments where you have a certain quality of thinking and healthy state of mind?
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You Get to Choose What You Believe
Aren’t we all miraculous unique creatures with infinite capacity for love and creativity, made of the same fabric that makes everything including the cosmos?
Yes we are.
Or are we just assholes who pay their bills late, (according to our thinking about ourselves)?
No we’re not.
If you believe you’re awesome, how much more impact and delight could you enjoy in the world? This is called FAITH. Belief in something that you know to be true, before it’s proven to you. It cannot be proven to your intellect, but your heart knows. It’s pretty ordinary really.
A wise dude called Syd Banks said something that seems important to reiterate: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
You’re not an asshole. You just think you are sometimes. You just sometimes forget yourself and take low quality thoughts as truth. So what? Doesn’t make you less lovable. It makes you part of the human race.
Being Alone and Enjoying It Is a Superpower
When you know how to be alone, you can boost your enjoyment in life while doing a lot less. You can actually get more done, produce higher quality results, and foster more meaningful connections. Being able to resource yourself from within, knowing what is the right decision for you, being in touch with truth and wisdom, these are the real superpowers.
Being alone with yourself and listening for the truth is the only way to find happiness in this life. You can’t find happiness with an outside-in approach, it has to originate within you. When you master your inner world of thoughts, you can feel like an ordinary everyday superhero. When your thoughts no longer scare you, you will be more fun to be around!
You will have humor and lightness about you. You will have inspiring original fresh ideas to contribute. You will be more productive in your career. You will be more present with your loved ones. Best of all, you will have more enjoyment inside yourself, with less struggle.
So go on then, put on your cape.
About Sarah Louisignau
Sarah Louisignau loved her digital nomad lifestyle, once she realized that she didn’t HAVE TO grow up, settle down, and buy a house. Travelling the world creating art and relationship coaching with her Norwegian husband Kjetil Odin has been a source of awakening. She’s grateful both for the freedom and joy it allows, and also for the absolute shit show it can be dealing with things like immigration, lost passports, and forgetting things everywhere. She values clear seeing, wholeheartedness, and being part of world culture. If you want to check out her painting or coaching offers, check out her website.
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