What runs through your mind when you see or hear this word? For most people, they define solitude as loneliness, sadness or even depression. In a way, they are right. The word Solitude originally comes from the Latin word solus which means alone.
Yet, there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness is a negative state of isolation. On the other hand, solitude is a positive state where you choose yourself.
Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self
In a world of overwhelming information and search for public validation; solitude is now more important than ever. Everyone seeks to grab your attention ranging from obsessive ads from companies and internet entrepreneurs to a casual friend asking you to hang out. You must have had your own fair share of these attention stealers.
WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC VALIDATION?
What about public validation? This comes from you. It is the tendency to seek attention from others. The compulsive need to gain likes and shares on your social media posts. The need to be adored by a special partner. Or even the urge to constantly gain favour and approval from your seniors, peers and juniors. Yes, you must have had your own fair share of seeking public validation too.
It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone.
These things are not bad. Adverts inform you about certain products. A casual hangout can lead to influential relationships in the long run. Even those likes and shares increase awareness about your brand or business. However, when these activities distract you from the things that matter most, that is when the problems start.
This is where the practice of solitude comes in.
Without solitude, no plant or animal can survive, no soil can remain productive, no child can learn about life, no artist can create, no work can grow and be transformed.
Knowing yourself gives room for reflection. It is the only time you can give honest feedback and seek ways to improve your talent and work ethic. Solitude actually enhances creativity and productivity too.
Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.
Practising solitude also gives you the opportunity to know yourself more. Mental strength, empathy is best built in this optimized state of knowing yourself. In this state, you make independent decisions free of external influences. These decisions help you develop more insights into becoming a better person in varying aspects of your life.
Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life.
Paulo Coelho, Manuscript found in Accra
HOW TO KNOW YOURSELF BETTER
There are different ways to practice solitude and know yourself better. Here are five major ways I have tried and these steps are highly recommended too:
Communicate and pray to the Creator. This allows you to build a personal relationship with God.
Meditate. This sounds like an ancient technique, but there are now modern apps for meditation. (I have used the Calm app and it worked really well. It is available on app stores)
Read books. Books are little powerhouses of knowledge. Learn to apply knowledge got from these books into your life.
Take a personality test. This is science’s way of knowing your strengths and areas you can improve. You can take one of these tests via this LINK
Earlier this year, I had a burden in my heart. Maybe it’s something that has crossed your mind too. Let me explain. This will greatly help your therapy techniques too.
Have you ever felt you were made for something greater? Yeah. Exactly. Like you feel you deserve to be a king with your entourage and different people respecting your opinions. I’m sorry, let me leave this medieval analogy and say something more relatable.
There are moments when I have felt I should be more successful than my current status. For instance, I ought to be earning six figures (in foreign currency) annually with my level of expertise and exposure. Or specifically, I ought to have my own place with several investments in strategic positions. Or I am supposed to be outside my home country whilst sending money to my parents, my younger brother and my cousins.
Maybe it’s different for you. You should have got that car by now. You ought to be running a successful business. Or is it possible that you are not married because you have not seen ‘the one’? Or you hate your current job but still need that pay at the end of the month to survive. It’s also possible you have so many dreams and goals to achieve but you don’t have money to execute them.
All these things get crazier when you realize you have a sense of responsibility not just for yourself, but also for people around you. These guys are looking up to you to quickly ‘blow’ and be successful.
Hehehe. Let’s not get started on social media; the place where everyone is successful, accomplished and happy and you feel left out. You post your happy moments for two days and feel worthless for the remaining days of the week. I think I have gone overboard but you get the point.
Don’t worry. It’s not gloomy. I found a solution later this year and it’s the reason I wrote this article. We are not here to rant about our struggles; we are here to learn how to triumph today. I got these insights for self-therapy from the opening verse of Psalms 37 in the Bible (Thank you Holy Spirit). Here are the steps he is telling you and me.
1. DON’T DO WHAT IS WRONG
Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
PSALMS 37:3 NKJV
As weird as it sounds, every human has a foundation of wrong and right. However, the more wrongs you do, the more you deaden your conscience. Afterwards, you begin to justify the sins you perpetuate on a daily basis. (Sorry, dear, I am not here to judge you but you know what I’m saying. After all, Only God can judge you and me)
That’s why you need to place your allegiance with Him. Like the verse at the opening of this step, you have to trust in the Lord while doing good. Note the next verbs on the same verse (Psalms 37:3) are ‘Dwell’ and ‘Feed’. This means trusting the Lord is a continuous process. It’s a daily habit because the flesh is really weak and the world is so filled with sweet pleasures.
I hope you get the point I’m trying to make here. We can only fix our unbalanced lives by trusting in the Lord and doing good.
2. DON’T RUSH ANYTHING
Apparently, you might not fully understand the second part of Psalms 37:3. Let me spell it out.
Even though I run out of it a lot, I still feel patience is the most underrated virtue. Who else doesn’t want to skip the process and just reap the benefits at the end? But there’s a caveat emptor when you try this.
The path of skipping the process often leads to destruction. Yes, Life has been rigged in this aspect. The weird part is when you resort to devious and sinful means to reach your rewards, the consequences will still catch up with you. Whether in the latter stages of youthfulness or old age, you eventually reap what you sowed at the beginning.
So once again, dwell in the land. Stay in His Presence. Feed on His faithfulness. Meditate and feel the Creator’s love. Show reverence to Him constantly. Life becomes more satisfying and gratifying when you do this alongside your therapy.
3. DON’T RUN YOUR RACE BY YOURSELF
Delight yourself also in the LORD. And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
PSALMS 37:4 NKJV
Life has always been likened to a race. You have your own timeline and journey during your time on Earth. While getting up to celebrate and appreciate life, we often grab the day in our hands and live as we please. Here is the bitter truth. Especially since it concerns your personal therapy.
This life is not yours. Well, it is still yours when you have not given your life to Christ. But the moment you become a Christian, your life is no longer yours (You gave it to Him literally when you get saved). It is the only way to experience the full glory and experience of God here on earth while waiting for the best moments in eternity.
In sum, don’t run the race of life by yourself. You have God who is always ready to lead, assist and sustain you for all the days of your life.
Hold on. You are getting to the best part.
4. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Remember the illustration of life being a race? Well, sometimes you can get distracted when you look at another person’s ‘lane’. We often get disconnected when we hear and see the successes of other people especially if we consider them to be our “peers.”
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.
PSALMS 37:7 NKJV
The verse above (Psalms 37:7) says “Do not fret.” The Message puts this verse as ‘being unbothered with those who climb the ladder.’ I have felt this way towards some people. That pang of slight jealousy when a random young person succeeds. Especially if you know he acquired the sudden wealth through dishonest means. Or if you feel you are more intelligent more than the person (Lord forgive us for these thoughts).
God reminds us it is fine. He has a road map uniquely designed for you. I have my own path. Just keep being diligent at it and ask God questions when you seem lost. The big man upstairs is ready to answer you. God remains the best therapy.
5. DON’T FRET
Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret – it only causes harm
PSALMS 37:8 NKJV
To fret is to be worried or develop anxiety. Please don’t do this. Fretting often causes harm to your mental health and never truly solves the problem. Here is a quick tip:
Whenever you’re faced with a difficult problem; pause, reflect and ask God for his opinions. Wait patiently rather than freaking out. I have made some bad decisions in the spirit of anxiety and I regretted them.
Confused on implementing this while doing self-therapy? Stop fretting and start placing your situations before God.
6. DON’T BE ARROGANT
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more… But the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace
Contrary to popular belief, Arrogance is not confidence. It comes from a place of excessive pride. Arrogance is negative confidence which leads to contempt or disrespect for others. In recent times, there has been blurry lines defining confidence, arrogance, niceness and meekness. However, there are clear distinctions.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT OR ARROGANT?
Confidence is a feeling of certainty. When you are confident, it means you have firm trust and belief in someone or something. Arrogance is being extremely confident in yourself while ruining others. When you are arrogant, you could be self-confident but you disrespect those around you either with your attitude or actions. This is not healthy therapy at all.
ARE YOU NICE OR MEEK?
The same principle goes for niceness and meekness. Niceness is being friendly and respecting others to the extent of being trampled and ridiculed. When you are nice, you respect others and remain passive whenever opposing ideologies and beliefs come your way. This is not healthy.
In contrast, meekness comes from harnessing your life with wisdom. When you are meek, your strength comes from self-control and discipline. You are assertive without being aggressive. Firmness without being oppressive. You are confident without being arrogant. This is true strength. This is healthy living.
I really hope these definitions are clear as it affects your personal and spiritual therapy as a whole. Because it is important to know if you are confident, arrogant, nice or meek.
The truly meek person is strong enough to front up and face anything that is not in line with God’s will, and is given the resources to do it in a non-threatening manner.
Every Day with Jesus (24 July 2020 edition)
Yeah. So that’s it. Whenever you feel crises, anxiety, peer pressure or the need to compete negatively; follow these six wise steps:
Don’t do what is wrong. Do good.
Don’t rush anything. Be patient.
Don’t run your race by yourself. Learn to trust in the Lord.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Follow God for your unique path.
Don’t fret. Face your situations with God at the forefront.
Don’t be arrogant. Be meek.
These steps have an eternal perspective as they are all based on the Bible. I wish you all the best.
What will you do now? Let me know in the comments below.