Covid definitely did a number on our social lives, but it also taught us something about stepping away from the fray. It's nearly impossible to know who you are until you remove yourself from the day-to-day life and references to others.
You really get a sense of what is missing in your life and what is precious when you check out, stay out of pocket, go stealth mode....
You know how a vacation creates a feeling when you get back that you know who you are, what you want? It's really the act of leaving your "role" and expectations and just "being" instead of "doing."
Julie and I wrote the book "Kickin' Up Dust! (Getting Lost to Find Ourselves)" in which we shared how our desire to go on road trips had us going out to seek one thing, whether it was a haunted location, historic site, and when we came back we had owned a bit more of ourselves. It wasn't our intention to come back knowing ourselves better, acting on that knowledge, and becoming confident in our uniqueness, our talents and dreams, but it was an incidental side effect.
The easiest way to shut off the world is take a trip. It's not always convenient, so start slowly. Take off a weekend in which you put your cell phone in a drawer, volume off. You keep the computer turned off. You reconnect with that guitar that's collecting dust, grab a packet of seeds and head outside, play music and practice singing, paint a room a happy color....
Go old-fashioned. Remember as a kid when there wasn't an Internet, a cell phone, video games of great complexity, and you ventured outdoors, not knowing who is trying to call you, not living in a virtual realm? Leave the cell phone turned off. Do not turn the computer on all day long. Don't utilize digital movies and cable TV. Try a day as if a thunderstorm knocked out the power and you are back to things like books, candles, and peace.
Actually spend time ALONE. Whether you go for a hike in the woods or stay home alone all weekend, having no one to distract you teaches you much about how you have been avoiding yourself. If you can't fall asleep at night because lying in bed is your only time with your thoughts or if you play the TV as you fall asleep to keep from being truly alone, it's time to go silent. Covid has stressed social butterflies the most. I had a friend who would call me during her lunch at a restaurant on weekdays because she couldn't just sit at a table and eat lunch alone. We feel like things are happening (distraction) when we are in groups. Being truly alone can help you realize you don't have hobbies, you haven't taken care of yourself physically, mentally or emotionally.
Sick days. I have taken off 2 weeks to recover from Bell's palsy and without the constant work online and sitting at the computer, my piriformis syndrome is better (extra tight muscles from sitting that pinch nerves), my BP is way way lower than when I feel like I have my foot on an accelorator. I'm reading books I had neglected, watching movies that make me smile, exercising, rethinking my grocery list and diet... This curse is also a blessing. I remembered what it's like to LIVE a life instead of DO a life. My priorities have become clearer. And I've used a giant chalkboard I have and erased the to-do lists on it and got colored chalk to make new inspired art each day.
Learn these things about yourself when you have time with your own presence exclusively-
Do you daydream about goals or reflect on past events?
Do you replay the past with same regret or nostalgia?
Do you nap?
Do you replay arguments or things you wish you could say to people?
Do you do puzzles or read books?
Did you lift your head and look at the beauty outside?
Did you reconnect with folks you haven't had time for?
Did you pick up cooking again or that guitar with dust on it?
Is your internal language riddled with words like, "stupid!" "loser," "hopeless"??
And especially take note of certain dreams you sealed off that you don't parade around often because it only makes you frustrated that you "can't" have them. Maybe you can't disrupt your life or leave your situation, but you can bring the spirit of that dream to your life.
Mine is always living on the Chesapeake in Southern Virginia, the gentle slosh of the water knocking a crab trap against my dock. Some decor and cooking of the Chesapeake help, as does the basic simplicity of that life. No TV on. No radio playing. Just blue and white quilts on the furniture, sunshine through sheer curtains, lemon-oil-polished woodwork, and poking around in the garden with some sweet tea....
Exercise for reconnecting with all you influence:
Look around the room you're in. Point out to yourself all the things you've bought, arranged, painted, fixed, and had a hand in. Go from room to room. You may be quite surprised how busy and influential you've been in creating a home.
Now, make a list of people who come to you with their problems or wanting advice, people you've taught something, mentored, made laugh, or encouraged to chase a dream. You are a noted touchstone for others.
List the jobs you've had, awards you've won, places you've traveled to. You are accomplished.
Give yourself the time and the space to find your true soul and when you re-embark in the world, you will clearly know, not only yourself, but your priorities.
When we envy a celebrity or have an idol, we often say "what would (blank) do?" and we emulate. Now, your key wording is "what would the real (your name) do?" And the decision-making becomes easier and sits well in your gut.
As I come through recovery from Bell's palsy I found myself again and she's a combo of the hopes, dreams and excitement of the child me and the talents, curiosity, compassion, and energy of adult me.
There are no longer any "must's," "should's," and "have to's," in my life. There is just, "I choose."
*I'd like to thank Jenn, tarot card reader, at the Center for the New Age in Sedona who gave me not only an amazing reading, but reminded me to use, "I choose." She was so spot-on.*