I have always enjoyed my own company. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent plenty of rollicking good times with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and enjoyed many casual chats with strangers on flights and in checkout lines. But I need my alone time and never tire of it.
Alone time isn’t something that everyone craves because it can create feelings of anxiety, loneliness, self-doubt, or simply restless boredom that makes spending time alone undesirable. As social creatures we need to foster relationships with others, but the first and forever relationship is the one we have with ourselves. That’s why learning to enjoy that relationship – as much as possible – matters. Here are a few ways to start enjoying your own company:
Revisit the things you like about yourself No, this isn’t egotistical. It’s the prompt that reminds you that you are an interesting person, someone worthy of your time. If you struggle with this, think about the positive mirror that others hold up to you. You may see qualities such as a great sense of humor, kindness, independence, curiosity, compassion, and talent. Own this good stuff!
Rethink how you think about alone time Alone doesn’t equate with lonely unless you make it so. It may help to think in terms of “me time.” If your significant other will be away for a few days, or the kids go off to camp, shift your focus to you and consider it an opportunity to recharge, to rekindle your relationship with yourself, or to explore your creativity.
Grant yourself permission to do what you want to do Decide what you want from your alone time. Is it simply peace and quiet that you might nurture by sitting outside, or cuddling up with a book indoors? Maybe you want to pull out that old sketchbook and try your hand at something creative that you don’t make the time for anymore. Or this could be the perfect opportunity to tackle that decluttering – not because you need to, but because you want to.
Disconnect Alone time that allows you to enjoy your own company is best spent disconnected. So put your laptop to sleep and silence your phone. Not only will you survive without the noise, but you’ll also learn to hear and appreciate the beauty of the uninterrupted silence.
Notice how you talk to yourself This may be a bit uncomfortable, especially if you avoid alone time because you don’t like what you hear coming back at you from the inside. Take it slowly. Acknowledge what you hear and try turning that into something kindlier. Remember, it is the relationship with yourself that you are nurturing.
Be an observer With the dog and the kids in tow, it can be challenging to pay attention to what’s happening in the world around you. When you are alone, you will notice things that slip by when you are telling Johnnie to stop teasing his sister or picking up the dog poop. Just bein’ real here…
Do something “social” alone Seriously, go to a movie or to dinner by yourself. Take in that new exhibit at Reynolda House, or head out for some seasonal window-shopping. Notice the delight you feel when you are not engaging with anything but your own perceptions and experiences.
Try something entirely new I had one day in London, prior to starting a week-long work project. I slipped into my tomato red leather coat and hopped on that tomato red double-decker bus bound for an adventure. It did not disappoint! Of course, trying something new is often more ordinary: a new recipe, a new garden shop, a new genre of literature, a new YouTube exercise class.
It is never too late to learn how to enjoy your own company.