It bothers me to no end that so many people will look at this headline with pity. Or worse, laugh at it the way one might at a joke. Too often, I’ve heard people talk about how they hate being alone, but the truth is, being alone does not and should not equal loneliness.
If you aren’t naturally introverted, being happily alone with yourself may take practice, but it’s a practice well worth it. By investing in yourself, you invest in long-term joy with the most important relationship you’ll ever make. Learning to love your own company is learning to love yourself.
Read on to see a few ways to retrain your brain to enjoy its own company!
Do Exactly what you want
Take a moment to think about your favorite activities. What’s a band you’ve been dying to see in concert? What food have you been craving? Where do you most enjoy traveling?
Make a list of things that bring you authentic, almost tangible joy. Now, check it off!
Seriously, what’s wrong with doing the things you love by yourself? Why do we put a stigma on something as simple as enjoying ourselves without the benefit of someone watching?
Once you start spending time doing the things you love alone, you may even find yourself enjoying those activities more! By and large, people underestimate the extent to which people will go simply to fit in, even on a subconscious level. Science has shown time and time again that conformity is an inevitable part of spending time around others.
Is this necessarily a bad thing? Of course not! Conformity leads us to a sense of community, to safety and togetherness.
It can also occasionally mean that subconscious conformity can change our taste of the things we love without our awareness. To truly experience something, you should experience it alone, at least once.
Support your Creativity
In the same way that subconscious impulses can change the way we feel about our habits, they can work against creativity. By supporting your personal creativity, you can learn new ways to appreciate the peace that solitude brings.
Even if you don’t identify as a creative person, there are tons of easy ways to build your own creativity! Try:
- Buying a cookbook and trying a new recipe every week.
- Filling a guided journal with memories you love.
- Creating a vision board using magazine cut-outs.
- Taking a painting class.
- Learning to sew and design a new outfit.
- Designing and printing your own t-shirts.
The idea that someone either is creative or isn’t is a relatively new one. Throughout recorded history, creativity was considered a skill one practiced, not a gift one automatically possessed. The more you build your creative skills, the more you’ll come to realize the joy that’s possible through time spent with yourself.
Create a Routine you Love
Whether or not you identify as someone who loves spontaneity, everyone needs a routine. By making your daily routine one that you love, you can ensure that you genuinely enjoy the time you spend with yourself.
In building your routine, try to note which tiny moments bring you the most authentic happiness.
In my case, I realized that one of my favorite moments of the day came with that first sip of coffee in the morning. The immediate warmth, the feel of the mug in my hands, the boost of energy; it was mesmerizing. Whenever I tried to recreate that feeling throughout the day, however, that tiny energy boost snowballed into a full-fledged, anxious caffeine buzz.
Building on what I loved about that moment, I built a routine around tea instead. My afternoon black tea gets me through the three o’clock slump.
The taste of lavender around bedtime signals my brain that it’s time to shift into relaxation mode. Even the process of preparing my coffee to begin brewing the following day has become a favorite part of my evening!
As humans, we crave ritual. Repetition is just soothing. Fill your day with small, ritualistic moments that you love.
Invest in your Health
This should be a no-brainer. The better you feel in a literal sense, the better you’ll feel about yourself as a whole.
“Health” can be a fickle term; just as not all health issues are visible, a healthy lifestyle looks different for nearly every person. As someone with her own fancy little auto inflammatory disorder, I know that all too well. Regardless, one of the best steps you can take towards your own personal happiness is to determine what a healthy lifestyle looks like for you.
There are specific actions everyone can take to improve their overall mental and physical well being. Avoid binge drinking.
Try a vegetable every now and then. Sleep a minimum of seven hours a night, if not more.
Again, this is an area where having a daily routine can be infinitely valuable!
Beyond the basics, it’s up to you to determine what makes you feel best. Take time to recognize how certain foods, exercises, and activities make your body feel.
If a particular diet or exercise leaves you feeling sluggish and achy, chances are, it isn’t the right path for you. It might take some trial and error, but the result will be well worth the effort.
Just remember that before beginning any wildly outrageous diet or exercise plan (here’s looking at you, Keto), you should consult your family doctor to ensure it won’t negatively affect your long-term health goals.
Live for your Future Self
Take a moment and think: who do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
Don’t get distracted by the little details of this moment. This isn’t the time to imagine where you want to live, who you’d like to be married to, or how many hyphens to include in your child’s name. The focus of this mental picture should sharpen on no one but yourself.
Who do you want to be?
Live your life for that person.
If you dream of being a person entirely in control of your own life, now is the time to start that process. If you look into the future and imagine a powerful woman fully healed from the damage of her past, it’s time to take the first step in that direction by scheduling an appointment with a therapist today.
If all you ever wanted in the world is to live a life filled with love, you don’t have to wait to get pregnant first. Look into volunteering opportunities, or host a dinner party for all your loved ones, or just call your best friend and remind her that you’re there!
With every significant decision you make, picture the person you want to become. Begin by asking them when to do it.
“Self-care” spent a little time in the spotlight, becoming something of a marketing buzzword. Companies used the phrase to sell overpriced products– candles, lotions, journals, etc– to people hoping for a quick fix into appreciating themselves more. The truth is sometimes self-care isn’t as pretty as all that; it’s the deep, grimy, perfect work or learning that makes you truly happy within your own life.
In the end, taking the time to love your own company is the surest way to learn to love yourself.