Themes of Interest

Thank you to everyone who answered last week’s survey. The response rate was 46% (excellent!) and two themes were of most interest:

  1. Finding our true selves
  2. Navigating life changes

There was also a write-in request for a theme: Living alone. Because the holiday season is coming and that can be a difficult time for those of us who live alone, I’m going to start there, then move on to finding our true selves. I hope this exploration of living alone will be useful even to those of you who live with someone because there may be times when you are alone and because you know people who live alone.

I don’t claim to be an expert at living alone but I do claim to be experienced. I lived with family or roommates up until I was thirty-one. In the years since, I have lived with a partner 32% of the time (7 years with first husband, 3 years with Trent) and lived solo 67% of the time (2 years before first husband, 8 years after first husband and before Trent, 11+ years after Trent).

To set context, I would rather live by myself and feel lonely than live with someone and feel lonely. I was lonely in my first marriage and that was the loneliest of all.

Here are some thoughts on living alone…

  • You may not be as alone as you consider yourself to be.

Wherever I am there is always at least one person there—me. Sometimes when I feel lonely it happens because I am not treating my Self well. I do not make her a nice dinner. I do not think of interesting things to do with her. When I give myself more compassion and attention, I feel less lonely.

Also, to go spiritual/mystical, I am not convinced that what I see is all there is. I believe there are beings we can’t see that watch over us. I believe we are connected to one another with strings we can’t see but can feel. I believe Sabine can feel it when I pray for her husband to heal, when I pray for her to have hope, to sleep well.

  • You may be undervaluing your enjoyment of your time alone.

Feeling Good by Dr. David D. Burns, has many practical exercises with which to dispute illogical thoughts. One of them is The Pleasure-Predicting Sheet (fig. 13-2). I recently did this exercise. Over dinner, I looked at my calendar for the next day and rated each activity, predicting how much satisfaction I would derive from each activity. The next day, at the end of the day, I reviewed the calendar and noted my actual satisfaction from each activity. I did this for a few days. A pattern emerged. I consistently underrated my predicted pleasure from things I did by myself. For example, one Sunday my highest actual satisfaction came from a solo shopping trip to Findlay Market. It was a sunny day and I had enjoyable conversations with the different shopkeepers who were so proud of what they were selling, and I brought home sweet, juicy tomatoes like you can’t get at the grocery store. I hadn’t realized how much I had enjoyed myself until after completing the rating process.

Those two thoughts, ‘You may not be as alone as you consider yourself to be’ and ‘You may be undervaluing your enjoyment of your alone time’ are enough for now. I’ve sketched out ideas for three more posts on living alone, then we’ll move to finding our true selves. Thank you again for your guidance on themes.

Chewing the Cud of Good

On the weekends I eat eggs for breakfast. They are always good and sometimes they are especially good.

4 thoughts on “Themes of Interest”

  1. I wish I’d heard Elizabeth Gilbert’s words for all the years I lived alone and felt lonely. ”Be the love in the room. If you are alone in the room, be love for yourself.”
    (A beautiful interview in The Shery & Nancy Show podcast – EP 92)

  2. I started to read the Marie Kondo book about tidying up because my house looks like a tornado ripped through. But I put the book down and never reopened it when the author’s words about getting rid of that which does not bring you joy shook me up.
    Her harmless words made me realize I will not get rid of my husband even though he does not bring me joy. So I understand being lonely despite having a spouse.

    1. Oh, Chris. I am so sorry. Lonely alone is hard, lonely with someone is harder, lonely with a spouse is the hardest.
      Sending my love…

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