5 ways for women to get to know themselves better and let go of the shame, guilt and awkwardness

Whether you’re an extrovert who has a full schedule of dinner parties, drinks with girlfriends and office socials or you’re an introvert (like me) who loves being with people, but also craves solitude…we all need alone time.

It’s time to rethink our definition of being alone

If your definition of being alone, also means being lonely, it’s time to rethink it. Being

alone and being lonely are two very different feelings. We can feel lonely even when we’re surrounded by others. Maybe you’ve felt that disconnection yourself, feeling misunderstood, unloved and unworthy even though you’re in social setting surrounded by people. Spending time alone is different, it’s purposeful and about carving out the space and time to be quiet and connect with ourselves.

Recognizing our judgements and fear

“She must be a loner” or “how sad, I’d be embarrassed to do that”, we scoff when we see a woman eating at a restaurant alone. Sometime it’s a comment from a place of guilt like, “must be nice” or “I could only do that if I was single”, when we hear another woman share how she spent a night in to herself. These are just a few of the judgements we sling at one another and ourselves when we think about spending time alone.

Because of our perception of being alone, we feel it’s indulgent, rude or maybe even unnecessary all together. There’s shame and a real fear to being alone. We feel sorry for people who are alone and so we avoid doing it ourselves. It’s easier to find ourselves hanging out with the wrong people, because we’d rather hide our loneliness, than be perceived as a loser.

This perception, worrying about what other people will think of us and the guilt that comes along with putting ourselves first, keeps us from spending time alone. Along with the fact that we’re so good at keeping ourselves busy – too good. We feel this need to always be doing something and taking care of other people. Our spouse, our kids, the job, the errands, taxes, laundry and everything in between.

Asking the question “who am I?”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we turn 40, 50 or 60, we feel so disconnected and struggle with the question “who am I?”. In fact I hear this all the time from my clients – they’ve raised their kids, retired and are feeling lost about what’s next. They got so used to taking care of everyone else and being busy that when they find themselves with the time and space to be alone, it scares them.

Whether you’ve just celebrated a birthday, or you’re starting to rethink your life or feel this tug in your heart to consider “who am I?”…being alone is the best way to get to find the answer.

The idea of spending time alone – especially if we haven’t spent time doing it, feels weird. But you know the feeling of what it’s like to meet someone and slowly as you get to know them and spend more time with them, you fall in love. It works the same way with ourselves. Which is why spending time alone is so important.

Making time for solitude

Eliminate any distractions – your phone, social media, Netflix or a movie and carve out some solitude and alone time with these 5 tips:

  • Find a local trail, go for a hike or hit the beach for a walk. After getting divorced, I wanted to get away from all the noise and hiked the trails at Star Rock National Park regularly. I totally unplugged – no music, no taking photos, just me in the woods feeling my body, sweating and tuning in to me.
  • Get some candles, bath salts and essential oils and enjoy a bubble bath. While you’re soaking in the bathtub and solitude you can also use this time to visualize the life you want to create. This is a relaxing way to end the day or week and incorporate quiet into your schedule.
  • Incorporate some alone time in your morning routine. One of my favorite things to do after I pour myself some coffee, is to cozy up by the window, take some deep breaths and focus on what I’m grateful for and what I want to attract into my life. I believe in the power of the law of attraction, so giving yourself the time to think about things you love and reflect on things you’re grateful for, is so important.
  • Go for a drive, eat lunch or go out to dinner by yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much more connected you feel and what thoughts come to mind when you give yourself the space.
  • Block off time in your calendar in advance – especially after a busy week or social events. Even if you don’t feel like you need the solitude, getting into a habit of regularly incorporating it into your schedule can ensure it’s a habit that sticks.

When we know ourselves and are connected to who we are, we also know what we want and don’t want. Intimately knowing who we are is our best defense in the face of everyone else’s plans and expectations. Which makes saying “no, thank you”, so much easier.

When we allow ourselves the gift of being alone, we can feel complete and truly feel the love we have for ourselves. And little by little we just might discover who we really are.

I’d love to know, what’s your favorite way to be alone? Of the 5 things I shared above, what’s one thing you’ll do this week to spend some time alone?