There are worse things than being alone. But it often takes decades to realize this. And most often when you do, it’s too late. And there’s nothing worse than too late.
– Charles Bukowski
Yes, there are worse things than being alone.
In fact, your single years can be some of the most productive and liberating times of your life. But the way some people reluctantly wear their single status, you’d swear it was something to be escaped and avoided at all costs. You’ll no doubt know friends who obsessively crawl bars and clubs looking for someone – anyone – who can provide the security and comfort of a familiar relationship. And then everything will be all right. Right?!Advertising
It’s a shame that so many people view relationships as the best part of life. Being single allows you to experience so much that is often simply not possible when subjected to the financial and emotional pressures of supporting and maintaining a relationship. Far from being a temporary state that merely fills the inconvenient bit in between relationships, this time should be used to grow and evolve beyond the realms of those consumed and caged by societal expectations.
Being single can be the most magical, wonderful time of your life. Here’s why.
1. It’s about finding out who you really are.
There are physical characteristics that we all know about ourselves; height, approximate weight and sex being the obvious ones. But being single affords you a unique opportunity: you get to really find out who you are. The good, the bad, the indifferent, are all laid bare. Your strengths, weaknesses and insecurities exposed. Embrace the solitude and vow to learn and uncover everything about yourself. Resolve to tackle your demons rather than bottling them up. So many potentially great relationships are ruined because we carry much unresolved baggage from one relationship to the next. Being single is about finding out who and why you are what you are. And then working to iron out the creases.Advertising
2. It’s about exploring what you want to do with your life.
Being single used to mean nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
– Sarah Jessica Parker
How many people do you know that had dreams and ambitions, yet fell into an unhappy relationship? Maybe felt obligated to assume new responsibilities they never wanted or expected? There’s something deeply tragic about this. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is nobility in living for others and putting their needs before yours. And there are times when this is absolutely necessary and the right thing to do. But wouldn’t you want your children to blaze their own trail and find and live their dream? So what’s your excuse? Use this time to pursue your passions, whether they come with monetary rewards or not. Immerse yourself in the process. And to hell with the consequences. Because you will never be happy unless you find and love what you do.
3.It’s about gaining confidence.
Being single allows you to develop skills and talents you may have forgotten about or didn’t even know you had. It allows you to learn how to do things independently and cope with change. Being single and creating the life you desire is a journey. And the reward for a journey of self-discovery is a new-found confidence and sense of contentment. Your choices, options and freedoms are limitless. Having the confidence to really seize these opportunities means you’ll get to live and enjoy the life you want.Advertising
4. It’s about knowledge.
A journey of self-discovery requires that you explore different cultures, beliefs and ways of life. It is about acquiring knowledge and gaining wisdom. When you are accountable only to yourself, you have a unique opportunity to go wherever your heart takes you. A hunger to learn and a curious spirit will serve you well. Read that great book you’ve never gotten round to. Revisit the classics and broaden your horizons with new genres of literature. Travel far and wide and soak up new experiences. Absorb the smells, sights, sounds, and exotic cuisines of foreign lands. If you commit to squeezing every last drop from your life, being single moment will prove to be utterly exhilarating.
5. It’s about regaining your health.
Not only is an unhappy relationship the cause of many mental health issues; it is often to blame for an expanding waistline. Whether it be comfort eating your way to an all too fleeting sugar high, or devouring one too many convenience meals in front of the TV, a familiar, safe and comfortable relationship rarely stirs the physical beast within. Yet your physical and emotional well-being are intrinsically linked. Use this time to nourish your body with quality, whole foods and benefit from the feel-good endorphins that exercise provides. You’ll gain the self-confidence, satisfaction and a sense of achievement that only a strong and healthy human body knows. And you get the satisfaction of politely declining admiring suitors captivated by your recent physical and mental transformation.
6. It’s about making your own rules.
When you’re in a relationship, you tend to put someone else’s needs before yours. You no longer always come first. But being single means you can be selfish, for all the right reasons. Have an urge to travel? Take flight. Want breakfast in bed, a long leisurely morning walk, followed by an afternoon swim and dinner at midnight? Do that. There is no one guaranteed way to live a great life. But by being single, you get to immerse yourself in the vital process of actually doing things – of living – and making up the rules as you go along. There are no limitations. Nothing holding you back, apart from your own fears. Isn’t it about time you addressed them?
7. It’s about loving yourself.
People always say that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. Well, maybe not. You can certainly love someone even if you’re going through the darkest of times. But you simply cannot give the pure unadulterated love you’re capable of if you’re shackled by low self-esteem and regret. Finding the true you and evolving into what you were meant to become means that those who enter your life will be enriched by the experience. You will be present – making the most of every moment. Unmasked. Those who are able to love themselves, seem to effortlessly create happy and fulfilling lives.Advertising
Would these lives be better and more enriched if shared with a partner? That depends. Sometimes, yes – but often not. If you’re not yet feeling content with your life choices, and don’t know where you’re heading, maybe it’s time to put the search for your perfect soul-mate on hold for a little longer…
You’ve got some living to do first.
Last Updated on August 12, 2020
When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?
Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.
In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.
How to Listen to Your Gut
The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.
Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.
1. Tune Into Your Body
Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.
However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.
Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.
Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion.
2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision
Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.
There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain, which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel
Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.
As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.
This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.
4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off
As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.
Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!
5. Challenge Your Assumptions
When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.
In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.
A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”
6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!
There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.
Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.
Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.
Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..
We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.
The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.
We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.
7. Trust Yourself
It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.
Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.
If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.
The Bottom Line
The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!
Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.
More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut
- Should We Trust Our Gut Feeling When Making Decisions?
- How To Trust Your Intuition When You’re Making a Decision
Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com
|||^||Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection|
|||^||Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust|