What does it mean to spend time with yourself

How do people really ever get to know themselves? When do we take time to ask questions about ourself? Almost never.

We float through life so often on autopilot and we do what is expected of us most of the time. People and all kinds of things pull us in all kinds of directions so that we hardly ever have time to think for ourselves. Don’t most of us, yes even the most outgoing of us, yearn to spend some alone time? Where do you go to find that alone time? What questions do you ask of yourself?

Well I have been working with 2 clients recently and the only project we are working on is self-discovery. The entire process has been fascinating because one is with a 22 year old male student who is currently struggling to figure out what it is he wants to do with his life, let’s call him Jimmy. Jimmy has been a university junky for 4 years but still has no clear map of where he is headed. The other client I have been working with is a 55 year old mother, Claire, of 3 and grandmother of 2 who is also happily married. For many years she has worked in the advertising world.

Both came to me in December just before the new year with a very simple request; I don’t know what the hell I want to do with my life. Jimmy and Claire told me that they really had no identity. In their own words they both described how for so many years others have placed words and labels on them. After years of other people labelling us how do we re-define who we are? How do we find ourselves?

After going through my bag of tricks I challenged both Jimmy and Claire with a few questions and exercises that helped them redefine who they are on their terms. I thought today I would share those exercises with you.

Challenge #1

Spend 5 minutes with yourself each day for the next week (the trick add 2 minutes each day). Just sit in silence, try to minimize all silence around you, turn the lights off or down if you can, and think about as little as you can (focusing on your breathing helps a lot with this).

Challenge #2

Stop every 2 hours and write whatever it is you are thinking about at that very moment. This is not a long exercise but after doing it for quite some time you can usually see some really nice patterns emerge. More often than not people find solutions to problems they have been avoiding by looking at this list of thoughts. Repeat this exercise at the very least for 2 weeks and you will be amazed at what thought patterns take up most of your time. You will really get know more about yourself.

Challenge #3

Answer these 4 questions as honestly as you can:

  1. When you were a kid what was one of your most favourite ways to pass the time? When did that change? Can you find time to do something like that again?
  2. If a reporter was writing a column about you a few hours before your death, what would the first 2 line be in the article? What would the last line say?
  3. If you had 30 seconds to talk someone off a ledge who was about to jump to their demise what would you say to them?
  4. Where is one place in public that normally you would not want to go alone (ie: restaurant. theatre, etc…)? In the next month what date will you go to that place alone?

Of course these are only a few exercises in a much longer process but if you are open and honest about being able to do these activities you will be well on your way to being a whole lot more comfortable with YOURSELF.

Life flies by and unless we take the time to stop ourselves every now and again to reflect one day we will look back and say “what the hell was all that?” So please, take the time, and get to know YOU (which by the way is always evolving, tricky thing that is).

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