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The greatest gift you will ever give yourself

May 25, 2009

Recently David Walliams was on Desert Island Discs and confessed that he couldn’t bear to be alone at weekends: “I have this terrible fear of being on my own,” he said. “I thrive off the company of others so I have to make plans to see people all the time in order to do things.” He also requested a gun as his luxury item “So that if I got really lonely, I would shoot myself.”

No doubt many people would resonate with these sentiments, as for many people the thought of having to spend time with themselves is too much to bear. To a certain extent, I can  empathise – I too have been afraid to be alone at certain times in my life. But I’m also aware that those were times when I was feeling very insecure and unhappy and didn’t like myself – or my life – very much. Being around other people was essentially a way of escaping from myself and avoiding the emptiness and despair which seemed to fill my waking hours. Paradoxically, however, the loneliest I have ever felt was when I was in a relationship with someone who – as I pointed out when I finally found the courage to break up with him– didn’t really care much about me as a person, but simply had a ‘woman-shaped’ gap in his life that he needed to fill. (Like attracts like, of course, and the only reason I was with him in the first place was because I was feeling needy and insecure at that point in my life – the worst possible reason for starting a relationship, but sadly the foundation upon which the majority of relationships are built.)

It’s a shame that a fear of solitude is so prevalent in our society, as spending time alone is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give yourself. It’s only when you take time out from the incessant chatter of the world that you can begin to discover who you really are and what it is that you really want. People who are unable to spend time alone are usually people who stay in miserable relationships due to a fear of being alone, and in miserable jobs because they don’t know themselves enough to know what truly inspires them. Over the last few years, I’ve become a huge fan of ‘me-time’ as I’ve personally experienced the invaluable benefits of this. Time alone allows you to tune into the voice of your inner guidance, and consequently develop an external lifestyle which reflects who you are internally. By taking time to get to know myself, I’ve learned what brings me joy and what I need to achieve serenity and have adapted my life accordingly. You’ve also no doubt heard the sentiment ‘The minute you stop looking for Mr/Ms Right is when they appear’.  When you learn to enjoy your own company and live your bliss, then you are far more likely to meet Mr/Ms Right, as you realise you don’t need anyone else to complete you – you’re already whole, just as you are – so you’re less likely to pair up with someone – anyone – for the sake of ‘filling a man/woman shaped gap’.

Experience has also taught me that for many of us, there is a distinct pain threshold which you need to push through to be able to enjoy being alone. Initially your instinct will be to grab the phone, go on internet forums – anything to make contact with others to avoid facing up to yourself. If this is how you feel, then try this as a first step to ease yourself in gently. Buy yourself a journal (you could just use any paper but I find buying yourself a beautiful book makes the experience more special)  then try spending just fifteen minutes alone with only your thoughts – no TV, no radio, no internet, no books or other reading matter. As the thoughts come up, jot them down in your journal. Don’t worry about the content – it doesn’t have to be profound or even make sense to anyone but you.  Do this everyday – or as often as you can – and over time, you will begin to recognise the negative patterns in your life – do you spend a lot of time complaining about your relationship? Your job? Are you constantly beating yourself up about something? Is guilt, anger, disappointment, a recurring feature in your journal entries? Gaining insight is the first step towards positive change, and change always begins with you, so once you recognise these patterns, you can start to map out an alternative way of being for yourself. Dare to dream – jot down your greatest wishes and your most improbable-sounding fantasies and begin to explore ways in which you could make these a part of your reality.  For as you get to know and  be your authentic self, you will find that the universe will work with you to bring you the opportunities you need to be true to you – and you may find that those wishes and fantasies are not as far-fetched as you think.

The irony of solitude is that the more time you spend alone, the more emotionally balanced you will become – and the more emotionally balanced you become, the more you will begin to relish your time alone.  Soon you’ll long for  those times of solitude when you can just spend time  being you, doing the things which soothe your soul and raise your spirit.  If you want to find wholeness, harmony and serenity within yourself, give yourself the greatest gift of all and try that first step of spending just fifteen minutes a day with you.

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5 comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughts and views. I’ve recently departed from corporate america and have gained a real sense of life, love, health, wealth, and happiness. The time away from the office politics spent in meditation helped me blossom into a better person. I wanted more time to myself to get to know me and what I truly wanted. Thank you again from your thougths and views. Much success in all you do.


  2. […] To minimise your emotional clutter, there may be other changes you need to make. When you think about your life, which aspects are you content with and which trigger feelings of frustration, disappointment, regret, sadness?  Your job? Your long term relationship? The place where you live? What steps could you begin to take – and remember, you only need to take baby steps, the change doesn’t have to be overnight – to bring you closer to the life which reflects your true self? (For some advice on a technique to kick-start this process, please refer back to my blog on ‘The greatest gift you will ever give yourself’.) […]


  3. […] Paradoxically, the best way to guarantee a positive relationship in the future is to spend some time as a single person, getting to know and love yourself. Loving yourself means developing self-respect (treating yourself in a loving way) and self-acceptance (loving yourself, warts and all). Why would you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t think you’re lovable? So take some time out from the relationship merry-go-round and do some personal development work to heal your emotional wounds and break the unhealthy patterns which drag you back into dysfunctional relationships time and time again. It may take some time but the rewards you gain through discovering your authentic self  – namely, fulfilment, harmony and serenity  – are definitely worth it. (For more on this, check out my blog entry ‘The greatest gift you will ever give yourself’.) […]


  4. […] Paradoxically, the best way to guarantee a positive relationship in the future is to spend some time as a single person, getting to know and love yourself. Loving yourself means developing self-respect (treating yourself in a loving way) and self-acceptance (loving yourself, warts and all). Why would you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t think you’re lovable? So take some time out from the relationship merry-go-round and do some personal development work to heal your emotional wounds and break the unhealthy patterns which drag you back into dysfunctional relationships time and time again. It may take some time but the rewards you gain through discovering your authentic self – namely, fulfilment, harmony and serenity – are definitely worth it. (For more on this, check out my other article ‘The greatest gift you will ever give yourself’.). […]


  5. […] others when you’re burnt out, and whilst time spent alone can be beneficial (see my article on solitude), when you’re feeling low, you can easily lose perspective and become overly critical of […]



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