7 Ways to Become More Comfortable Being with Ourselves

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

So many of us have a hard time being alone with ourselves. Which is why we have a few glasses of wine when we’re the only one at home. It’s why we try not to be home by ourselves. It’s why we like to stay busy. It’s why we turn to all sorts of substances; anything not to think or feel or sit with ourselves.

Because, as clinical psychologist Carolyn Ferreira, Psy.D, said, “When we are still with our own thoughts and feelings, there is always the possibility that those thoughts and feelings will go to a place that we don’t like.”

That place might be a conflict at work, a rocky relationship, a bad memory. We might realize that we are actually dreading a date with our partner. We might realize we really need to change careers. Becoming aware of these thoughts may mean that we need a change — in ourselves or in our circumstances, and these changes may be difficult to make, said psychologist Christine Selby, Ph.D.

Many of us simply aren’t “wired” to be with ourselves, she noted. More than 50 percent of people are extroverts, who “derive psychological energy from being around others.” For them “being ‘forced’ to be alone with one’s thoughts and feelings may be so foreign and so draining that they will look for interactions with others any chance they can get.”

Of course, sometimes, distracting ourselves is necessary and totally OK. Being with our thoughts and feelings for a long time gets exhausting, Selby said. However, self-destructive distractions only create more problems.

Thankfully, there are healthy strategies you can use to get more comfortable being with yourself. Below, Ferreira and Selby shared seven suggestions.

Identify whether you’re more of an introvert or extrovert

Knowing this helps you better understand yourself and why it might be harder for you to be alone with your thoughts, said Selby, co-founder of Selby Psychological Services in Bangor, Maine. To find out, you can take an online quiz. Or you can simply reflect on whether: a) you have a “need” to be around others, and b) you feel more or less energy after being in large groups.

“Extraverts will feel more energized and [be] on the lookout for the next social gathering; introverts will be drained and will require time alone to feel reenergized and ready for the next social interaction.”

Ease into being alone

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