Correction: The quote above is attributed to Olivia Wilde, not Oscar Wilde.
By Sean Suddes
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” ―Hunter S. Thompson
When I made the choice not to come back home after college in 2008 and instead pursue work in another state, it dawned on me that I would be living alone for the first time in 22 years.
From family to college roommates, I always had someone around during the day or night to connect with my entire life. So when I finally made the decision to move even further from home (it was only a 5 hr drive, but still!) there was a slight feeling of panic that started to set in.
As moving day came closer and closer I began to question whether this was a good choice or not, but I have always challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and knew this was something I needed to do.
Living alone would be one of my biggest life tests yet.
Here are 5 lessons I learned living alone:
1. My mind is loud.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly—you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. All the things that truly matter — beaut…y, love, creativity, joy, inner peace — arise from beyond the mind…” ―Eckhart Tolle
Perhaps it was living in a 300 square foot condo, or just a crazy time in my life, but when I started living alone I noticed just how much I think. With no one to talk to I relied on myself to keep me company, the only problem is I wouldn’t shut up!
My thought patterns tended to show the same mental movies of my past or potential situations of an uncertain future. Some thoughts were good, some not so good, but it was the inability to stop all thoughts that eventually lead to researching the art of living consciously.
I was alone, but it felt like there was two of me. One being the thoughts and the other being the listener.
The question kept arising, “aren’t I just one person?”
It was through this self-actualization that I started to become aware of my thoughts as soon as they arose, once this happened I was no longer my thought, but I was the observer.
I only became my thoughts when I attached to them. BOOM! My life was transformed.
The thoughts were still there but their power had diminished and continued to do so over the next years. I would literally ring a mental bell when a thought would continue to recirculate, seemingly without end. Once the bell was rung I began to create the habit of conscious breathing.
Breathe is the only voluntary and involuntary action that controls our life in both the conscious and unconscious mind. It is the connection between the two realms and in being so it is the anchor to living in the present. Here are 4 Breathing Techniques that Could Alter Your Life for the Better.
2. Alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely.
“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” ―Kim Culbertson
Although there were many times I felt lonely while living alone, this feeling started to fade as I built strength to stand on my own.
I grew to become thankful that I was no longer dependent in some form or another on the people with whom I once lived.
Whether it’s for help around the house, an ear to talk to, or just another energetic body to watch TV with, we are nurtured to be surrounded by people.
But this isn’t always a healthy situation. Having someone around all the time can inhibit you from questioning who you really are.
Are you who you think you are, or are you the expectations of another?
Living alone can be a recalibration of the heart and soul, where you begin to shed what doesn’t agree with you and build that which does.
3. I’m free!
There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. -Nelson Mandela
For the first time in my life I could do what I want, when I wanted, if I wanted.
At first, this was a task. What the hell am I going to do alone when I have time off work?
The search began because I didn’t have cable or many outside distractions, and as a result I began to seek what I loved in life.
There was a river of energy that I could feel (and have felt my entire life), but it wasn’t until I jumped into the river that it helped me to understand so many new and forgotten passions in my life.
For the first time I picked up a book and began reading, not for a grade, but because I was actually interested in the content!
For a kid who grew up reading Cliff Notes to pass English class this was an amazing feeling.
Along with my new found joy of reading and self-education I began to spend more time outdoors, practicing photography, studying consciousness, and learned about who I was at my core.
It took me a while to direct this energy, but once focused it was like a magnifying glass being hit by the sun…it was time to light up the world!
4. You’re stronger than you think.
The root of suffering is attachment. -Buddha
Eventually there was little to no reliance on others for my happiness, it was all inside of me and had been my entire life.
This doesn’t mean I don’t find happiness in connecting with people. I do, in fact I value connecting with others now more than ever. But I don’t let anyone define who I am, that is my role and my role alone.
The difference in seeking happiness from others and happiness from yourself lies in the fact that one is forever lasting and the other is not.
There is no one person in this world who will make you happy all the time except for yourself, it’s not their role to, as hard as that may be to accept.
When you live with the expectation that someone should make you happy you become dependent, when that dependency grows too large it can become detrimental to relationships.
5. Put on your oxygen first, then help others.
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. -Charles Dickens
Some people might find this selfish, but it is actually very selfless to value yourself over anyone else.
Only when we are at our best can we be the best for someone else. This doesn’t mean to always serve yourself first, or think that you are the center of the universe, you’re not.
This simply means that we shouldn’t neglect spending time empowering our higher Self.
To do this we must come to understand our state of being and consciousness, create space in situations to respond instead of react, and in the end you will share far more love than you could have ever imagined.
For most people living alone is not an option. Luckily, living alone is NOT the only way to understand these life lessons.
Meditation, sensory deprivation chambers, or simply connecting with nature are all great conscious boosters you can do alone, at least for a little while.
If you feel like your life is in a rut consider that you may be surrounded by too much noise, literally or figuratively, whether it stems from others or from yourself. Learn to quit your mind and simply BE.
Do you live alone or have you lived alone before? Let us know if you have any other life lessons to add in the comment section below!
About the Author:
Sean Suddes created Expanded Consciousness in hopes of collectively raising the consciousness of others as he continues to work to raise his own. He has been studying consciousness for over 5 years, he writes, photographs, and works to promote conscious writers through this website. Check out his photography website SuddesPhotography.com.