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September 8, 2011 / mike54martin

One Path to Serenity: Solitude



One Path to Serenity: Solitude

                                                      By Mike Martin

Excerpted from Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People)

Being alone is a frightening thought for many of us. All of our lives we have been with other people. As children we live with our siblings and parents. As teenagers and students we gather in groups and share classrooms and dormitories. As adults we are part of companies and organizations and create our own network of family and friends so that we are almost never really alone.

We have a very real, physical need of the company of others in our lives. The companionship and relations that we share with people that we learn, play, work, live and love with is crucial to our sense of belonging in the world. We grow in our relationships with other people by watching them both succeed and fail, survive or prosper. We listen and learn and confide our secrets to them. It helps keep us sane and balanced.

But just as important to our sanity and fundamental to our serenity is the time that we spend alone. We may not have much of it in our lives, especially if we have work, family and community commitments, but we need to take advantage of those opportunities to practice solitude, the act of being alone and comfortable with ourselves.

Solitude is a way to reclaim your true self, not the worker or brother or sister or grandmother of others, but the essential you, the spirit that lives inside your stretched skin. It is a time to know yourself, to evaluate your progress in life, to regenerate your batteries for the nextMount Everestthat you hope to climb.

It is a time for reflection of the past so that you can learn. And for imagining a vision of the future which you would like to create.

You have to take this time, for yourself, in order to be able to give to the world or to others. So have a look at your life and see what you are using your solitary time to do. Are you spending it on entertainment which may be relaxing but not necessarily rejuvenating? You may be spending it to catch up on your sleep, in which case you may be sleeping through your best ideas. Maybe you might want to get an extra half hour a night in bed.

Treat your alone time as your special time. It is your gift to yourself. You can sit and read a good book; you can build something with your hands or work in your garden. You can use it to write or paint or learn a new skill or take a class in something you always dreamed of doing, but never had the time. Most importantly, use your solitude to become more comfortable about who you really are.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant. He has written and published thousands of articles about workplace issues for magazines and publications inCanada, theUnited StatesandNew Zealand. He has worked in human resources for over thirty years and has experience both as a senior manager and a union leader. For the past fifteen years he has worked with dozens of small, medium and large organizations in the areas of workplace intervention and conflict management.

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