Checklist for Enjoying Time Alone
I have an older brother but we’re eight years apart so basically I grew up as an only child. I was fortunate to have three amazing girl cousins who were and are like sisters to me. They included me in on all their sisterly things and I never spent a Halloween or birthday without them. But being an “only child” I learned how to play on my own and occupy myself. I actually love my alone time and look forward to it sometimes.
I’ve been known to go to movies alone, go to the theater alone, go to restaurants and eat alone — etc. I love it! It’s an empowering feeling to be happy enough in my own skin to be able to spend time by myself and be OK with it. I probably wouldn’t plan a vacation on my own, like my friends Danielle and Brian have, that scares me a bit but otherwise I’m a pretty independent person.
I realize though that not everyone can do these things alone and that it can seem pretty daunting. I reached out Lauren Mackler who is a psychotherapist, and author of the international best-seller, “SOLEMATE: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life,” for her list on how to enjoy your time alone.
7 Steps to Mastering the Art of Aloneness
By Lauren Mackler
Many people spend years waiting for a soul mate to make them feel complete. Others settle for unfulfilling relationships out of fear of being alone. Instead of expecting someone else to complete you, mastering the art of aloneness gives you mastery of your own life. It involves developing the self-awareness and life skills needed to live a full, happy, successful, and financially secure life—whether you’re living it alone or with someone else.
Below are 7 steps you can take to strengthen your relationship with yourself and develop greater self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and personal and professional fulfillment.
1. Learn about and develop who you are. Coaching, workshops, and therapy can help you uncover your strengths and passions, and liberate who you were born to be. Investigate services that can help facilitate your personal-development work, and interview professionals to select the one that best fits your needs.
2. Become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency builds self-esteem and confidence, allowing you to participate in relationships out of conscious choice instead of a desperate need. Identify the things in your life for which you are dependent on someone else (finances, emotional well-being, household tasks, etc.). Pick one and start taking responsibility for managing this for yourself.
3. Live by deliberation versus by default. Instead of living on autopilot, align your behaviors and actions with the results you want to achieve. Before you react to a person or situation, stop and think about what you want to have happen. Once you’ve imagined your desired outcome, choose the action or behavior that’s most likely to achieve it.
4. Manage fear so it doesn’t manage you. Most fears are rooted in old beliefs adopted in childhood. When fear arises, write down what you’re afraid will happen. Next, do a reality check, to see if your fear is grounded in reality or based on a limiting belief. Replace limiting beliefs with self-supporting ones that are based on your current reality, and that will lessen your fear so you can move forward.
5. Become the partner you seek. Instead of waiting for someone else to transform you, develop the attributes you’d want in a partner in yourself. Make a list of the qualities of your ideal mate, and then circle those that are not currently true about you. Identify steps for developing the qualities you circled, and implement a plan of action.
6. Build an inner support and outer system. Strengthen your inner resources through adequate sleep and exercise, relaxation, and maintaining a healthy diet. If you tend to neglect yourself, start doing 1 thing each week to replenish yourself. Build friendships with people who are supportive, and utilize professional resources to help you reach your potential.
7. Do work you love, in which you can excel. The smaller the gap between who you are in your personal life and who you are at work, the happier you will be. Make a list of your strengths, skills, and passions, and brainstorm ways to turn them into a job or business. If you’re not sure how to translate your strengths into a new career, hiring a career coach can help.
Lauren Mackler is a renowned coach, psychotherapist, and author of the international best-seller, “SOLEMATE: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life.” Her work has been covered widely in the media. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter, read her blog, and visit her website.
Thanks Paula for posting Lauren’s list! Although I have 2 sisters I never really had anything in common with them. At an early age I learned, as you put it, “to play on my own and occupy myself”. I didn’t realize it then but have learned in my adulthood that it has empowered me to do some things others would be scared to do. I’m not afraid to go to the movies or a restaurant by myself. I have even traveled to places like Nova Scotia (by car) on my own. In doing all this I’ve learned independence is a really good trait to have.
Hi Barbara — so glad you liked this post! You are right — independence is really an asset in so many ways 🙂
I love this post! Paula, thanks for sharing Lauren’s checklist. I think her tips are right on target for everyone, not just those of us going solo. I never agreed with the famous declaration at the end of the movie, Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise said, “You complete me.” My belief is that my goal should not be to find my “other half” — but to understand how I need to evolve and develop as a person to be a whole. That way, if or when you choose to share your life with someone (spouse, friends) you are coming from a place of strength and confidence, rather than dependence.
Thanks for the comment Shannon! I think you are right – the biggest test is going to a restaurant alone and being totally fine with it!
As an only child, I also learned at an early age how to have fun on my own and be comfortable going it alone. Even on vacation, I enjoy solitary walks on the beach or reading while listening to music to just breathe and be. Thanks for another great list!