Tips to Find Yourself And Forget About Loneliness
“Leaving Loneliness: A Workbook: Building Relationships with Yourself and Others”
by David S. Narang Ph.D
Right Now: What Do You Actually Want to Be Doing? Find Yourself
Yes, Right Now. Part of attaching securely to yourself is to develop contact with yourself at a given moment in time. You know what you need to do, the tasks, et cetera. Some people stay incredibly busy their entire lives without doing much that they find exhilarating or satisfying. Whether you have an hour, a day, or five minutes at your disposal, this is a gap in your daily tasks that you can use to get satisfaction. You have practiced this earlier in the book, and as a core activity, let’s build additional familiarity with this skill. It is easy to live life mindlessly. The structure of work tells you what is expected and what to do, and you may be able to rest on that without adding your own perspective to it. At home, you can turn on the TV, find something to clean or other tasks, get a drink, or otherwise again run on autopilot (it is possible to do all of those things mindfully as well, and to actually experience them). Find Yourself.
There is plenty of structure and speed in our world that you can have things to do for distraction, depending upon these tasks as the filler for your time that help you avoid making choices about your life. However, the result of living life this way exclusively, without taking the reins, without asking yourself what you desire, is that time passes quickly in your numb state, you feel vague unease, and whether active or slow, you do not get a great deal of satisfaction from your days. The days roll on toward eventual death, without purposeful living and the satisfaction it brings. Given that you are reading this right now, you have at least a brief gap of time at your disposal. Given that, at this moment, here is the action activity: What would you like to do with the remaining time in the gap of time that you have right now? Stay with this question until you have something in mind that you are able to do at this moment in time, and then have at it. Find Yourself.
From here, work to build a habit. Build familiarity with a question: “What do I want out of the next hour?” until it becomes routine and a habitual question to think of. You may of course have many tasks in a given day, but if you know what you want, then on most days you will find a way to insert that need into your day and address it. However, if you do not ask the question, you are unlikely to pursue your satisfaction. How would you word the question to yourself about what you want in the next hour, to repeat to yourself and thus remain more conscious of what you want to be doing/prioritizing at a given moment in time? Practice reminding yourself of that question throughout the day, every day. Then, among the ‘musts,’ the things you need to do outside of your control, you can add activities and priorities that reflect who you are. Find Yourself.
Music. Find Yourself
Music unlocks a part of your brain that has very limited verbal voice. As noted in the earlier exercise on using artwork to accurately contact and then release emotion, your right hemisphere and limbic brain has knowledge expressed most directly and powerfully through music and art. That was the reason for the suggestion in the exercise that if you are upset and do not know why, pick up crayons or colored markers, draw something formless, and let the feelings emerge rather than using the left brain to analytically (and futilely) attempt to seek them out. Similarly, exploring music is another method of deeply contacting your emotional brain, connecting to this part of yourself that has limited verbal language by giving it a musical method of “speaking.” Find Yourself.
When you were a child, what did you do to create music? Maybe you hummed or used a pencil to drum on furniture. Maybe you played an instrument, or maybe you sang. As a child, how did you commonly make music? However you made music as a child, do that thing now. If not possible due to social constraints, consider when you will be able to do this, but if feeling reluctance/caution, be especially sure to do it at that time. What was the experience like of making music now, doing so in the same way you used to in childhood? Did you have any inhibition, minor or large, about making music? If so, what was your concern? How can you support yourself in maintaining some of this behavior of making music (e.g., encouraging thoughts you could have, conversations with friends/family who would be supportive, cultural events you could watch or attend), so that inhibitions cannot stop you? Find Yourself.
Finding Your Inner Artist. Find Yourself
Work on this activity if you generally do not see yourself as artistic, as we now shift toward building your internal dynamism, exploring hidden aspects of yourself. Go to the local Target or art store and grab a few paints, a brush, and some paper designed for painting (i.e., the kind that doesn’t easily soak through). Turn on music that makes you feel open, relaxed, and free. Also, take a moment to adjust the physical environment, leaving you space to move, with the immediate surrounding not cramped by clutter. Look out the window for a little inspiration and find something natural (i.e., earth, plant, tree, birds, etc.). Paint it. Paint poorly as an antidote to pressure, if performance expectations creep in. Take your time, and let yourself get absorbed in the doing. You may say, “So what? What does this do for me?” Creativity is a spirit, not a product or outcome. Find Yourself.
When you can temporarily ‘de-focus’ from goals, plans, and desires (in this case, by looking at nature outside the window for a moment), you can return to yourself more refreshed and creative. Evaluate not your art itself, but rather reflect on your ability to cultivate a creative mind-set— focus on the process.
1) Find Yourself. How skilled are you at occasional detachment from goals, letting your mind wander and becoming a little dreamy?
2) Find Yourself. Do you have any concerns/worries associated with that occasional disengagement from your goals?
3) Find Yourself. What are the benefits to your creativity of taking a break from task-oriented activities, opening yourself to the world and experiencing the world?
4) Find Yourself. Skillful artists may live in unfocused receptivity until an idea arrives, then working with high focus and intensity to make that idea a reality. Do you need to work more at building the muscle of disciplined focus or at the muscle of allowing unfocused receptivity?