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COVID-19 has forced us into isolation.
For many people, this is the first time in their lives when they have had to spend time alone, and it can (understandably) be terrifying.
But, take heart, and see the opportunity.
“Know thy self” was one of the maxims reportedly inscribed at the temple of Delphi, with the others being “Nothing to excess” and “Surety brings ruin.”
One of the most important lessons to learn and know is who we really are.
This is extremely difficult and may take a lifetime.
It isn’t easy because, from our moment of birth, others and society, in general, are molding us into who they think we should be. This is not always entirely sinister—our parents often want the best for us and try to guide us on a course toward success.
All those who care about us will have suggestions, and your teachers and employers will want you to be a particular person (for a specific reason). This is because they want the best for us—their idea of the best.
But who exactly are you?
Who are you supposed to be?
Each of us should be the person we were born to be, and any variation can cause stress and unhappiness. We spend so much time and effort trying to please everyone and meet others’ expectations that we put our own feelings last, fearing that we will let others down.
And one day you’ll find that you can’t take it anymore. You can no longer pretend. You can no longer keep up the disguise. Normally this can mean burnout or depression; it can cause you to lose a job or a relationship.
So how exactly do you become yourself, if being yourself is foreign to you?
This is all, of course, easier said than done, and each one of us has different ways of looking at ourselves. We have different ways of dealing with and mulling over things. And we each need to find what works best for ourselves.
I can recommend a couple of things to start with though:
>> Stop watching TV.
>> Stop listening to the radio.
>> Stop reading newspapers.
They are vehicles that interfere with your thinking and your natural flow.
They are not necessarily evil, but their primary purpose is to get you to buy things—to become who they think you should be. And you don’t need this right now. After a couple of weeks, you won’t even miss them.
>> Silence is golden.
And if you are living alone, this is a gift from the Gods. Silence will help the white noise in your head diminish to a level where you can think and feel more clearly. (Think of a snow globe with all the snowflakes swirling around and around. It needs to settle.)
It will take time, but please be patient.
>> Get out in nature if it’s safe to do so.
Go for walks somewhere—surround yourself with trees and animals. They will accept you for who you are.
It will be fine. Time is your friend and will work behind the scenes while you are worrying about the future. Don’t worry about the future. Just let time do the hard work on your behalf.
>> Pets are great companions.
Just make sure you can look after them properly, and know that they are now bound to you. This is not a short-term solution. This is for life—their life.
>> Explain this process to your friends.
Tell them that you are simply finding your true self again and that your silence is not to be confused with you ignoring them. If they are true friends, they will support you. But keep in touch and keep them updated. They will likely be impressed and start doing the same thing.
There is an old Celtic culture of seclusion, and this is how the Druids were able to commune with nature and the Gods. This has been forgotten, and our society is worse off for it.
Listen to the rain.
Listen to the wind.
Listen to the birds.
It’s all real.
Now listen to your heart.
It, too, is real.