"Am I Really Prepared to Live Life Alone?"
This question was posed to me by a woman expressing concerns about her singleness. As I think about this question, another question comes to mind…”what’s so bad about living alone with you?” What comes up when you think about life without a romantic relationship? What used to come up for me was loneliness and fear. No matter what feelings may surface, many singles believe that being in a relationship is better than being single. As a result, we get into relationships with people to distract us from the underlying feeling of not wanting to be alone.
Now, let me say this…there’s nothing wrong with desiring companionship. I believe that God created us to connect with other people. However, when we crave relationship simply because we don’t want to be alone with ourselves, that may be pointing to a deeper issue. What is it about you that you don’t want to be alone with? What are you looking for a companion to give you?
Let’s look at it this way…how would feel if a guy you loved told you, “you know what, I’m only with you because I haven’t found what I’m looking for. You’re cool and everything, but I don’t really want to be with you forever.” If you’re honest, that would be really painful right? Well that’s essentially what you’re saying to yourself when you say you’d rather be in a relationship than be alone with you. You’re saying being with someone else is better than being with you.
So what’s the solution? Become a safe space for YOU so that whether you’re in a relationship or not, you’re good. How? I’ll share what’s working for me…
1. Figure out what you don’t like about you.
I had to go to counseling to figure this out. When I started going to counseling I realized that I was carrying a lot of hatred towards myself. I didn’t like how I looked or the unhealthy decisions I made in the past. I was filled with guilt, shame, and judgment about things I had done and criticized myself about EVERYTHING. Nothing was ever good enough. So I couldn’t tolerate being alone with me because only negativity about me would surface. Who wants to be around someone like that? Talking about how I feel in an environment where I wouldn’t be judged or condemned modeled acceptance for me. It showed me that who I am is okay and that I’m not the horrible person I thought I was. It helped me understand what emotions and life experiences contributed to my life choices and provided a sense of normalcy for me.
2. Give yourself permission to feel and express emotions.
For a long time I didn’t allow myself to show emotions. I didn’t like to cry or experience sadness or what I considered to be negative emotions. I saw expressing emotions as a sign of weakness, so I felt I needed to “suck it up and get it together.” When I felt something wasn’t right I would ignore or deny it and keep on moving. However, I’m learning that emotions are normal and need to be felt and expressed. Emotions are indicators of something deeper that may be going on. It’s like the “check engine” light in the car. So instead of avoiding the sadness, discouragement, hurt, or pain I feel, I now give myself permission to experience it. I sit in the emotion and let myself cry and talk or write it out. Afterwards I feel relief and release. Relief in acknowledging the truth and release of carrying burdens. I also allow myself to experience pleasant emotions like happiness, excitement, and love. It’s important to feel those too.
3. Offer kindness, love and acceptance to yourself regularly.
I started with baby steps. In times when I would normally criticize myself, I would say “It’s okay Shavon, it’s okay.” Those simple words to myself were soothing and created a greater capacity to be with me. I practiced that over and over and now I feel more connected, loving, and accepting of me. I’m more intentional about caring for me and providing myself with what I need. A beautiful love relationship with me is blossoming and it’s wonderful!
These are just some of the things that have helped create a safe space for me. What will work for you?
~Shavon Carter, the “You” Relationship Coach