“Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I used to talk on the phone a lot.
It was an escape for me to hop on the phone with my girlfriends and chatter away the stress of the day. It was comforting and familiar, but it ate up a lot of time that I could have used to process what was going on in my life.
I felt like I had to consult with other people before I could make decisions on my own. I thought I had to please everyone before I could even consider pleasing myself.
Eventually, I became so overwhelmed with life and people and noise and opinions and expectations that I began to shut it all out. I became very selective and particular about when and how I shared myself. It happened gradually and some friends and family didn’t understand.
Over time, I realized that I would have to sacrifice some things to become the driven person I had inside of me. I had to put my needs first, and at first I felt conflicted and guilty about it.
Despite my guilt, my decision to preserve myself for my creative thinking process changed my life.
I became less cranky and anxious, I felt more mindful and present as a mom, partner, and friend. And when it comes to purpose, I became constantly inspired. I went from sitting on the phone complaining and distracting myself, to giving myself time for self-reflection and to expose myself to more of my feel-good indulgences like reading, music and art.
The fear of disapproval from others deters many of us from carving out the space we need to be alone and enjoy our own company. We don’t want to hear the criticism and the guilt trips. I didn’t want to hear it either, but if I hadn’t made this shift, I would probably be on medication right now for anxiety and depression.
I couldn’t live that way anymore, constantly at the mercy of everyone else’s intentions and over-involving myself in too many things. I felt myself pulling away from it all but at first I worried about not being every woman and not being able to take care of everyone all the time.
Women often struggle with this “Superwoman Syndrome.”
We want to nurture and be responsive and present in our relationships, but in doing so with no boundaries, we neglect our need to self-focus and nourish our own spirits. This leads to burn out, lack of inspiration and it hurts our relationships in the long run. We can’t be fully present in the lives of our loved ones if we are not first fully present with ourselves.
A key element of living a purposeful life is respecting yourself enough to set boundaries and make changes to your lifestyle as needed. When life gets busy and outside pressures close in, you need a strong but loving voice that you’re not afraid to use to protect your peace of mind. By making soul-centered personal choices—adding what you need and subtracting what you don’t—you are valuing yourself and creating a meaningful life.
Finding purpose in life and the unique way that you experience it can be as simple as removing the obstacles that are keeping you from yourself.
It’s not about cutting everyone off, it’s about carving out more time and space for yourself. I won’t sugar-coat it—everyone won’t understand and feelings might get hurt. But you have to let go of the need for approval, claim your independence and honor your needs.