While it’s true that the circumstances surrounding this quarantine can be scary at times, I am grateful for all the time I have had to do some much-needed soul searching. The lockdown started with me constantly wanting to go out and meet people. It was only later that I realized what I really wanted was to not be by myself. When that realization set in, I knew that being alone with my thoughts was the one thing that I actually needed.
For me, quarantine came at a time when I didn’t even know I needed it. The last two months have been something of a revelation to me. I spent most of this time understanding who I am and learning to appreciate myself better. I don’t know when the quarantine will end, but it makes me happy that I will come out of it as a better version of myself.
When I sat down to write this article, I didn’t know how to put it into words. And although I could feel the change in me, I couldn’t figure out how it had happened. My personal experiences have mostly only been limited to my mind, but I figured it was time to articulate my feelings. It took a while, but I understood how the shift in my mindset began. This is a process of what you can do when you want to get back in touch with your inner self.
1. Take some time for yourself
Change doesn’t happen in a day and it doesn’t happen while you’re too distracted by your surroundings. Taking time for yourself, when you need it, isn’t selfish. If you feel like everything is getting too overwhelming, maybe what you need is to take a step back and look at things from another perspective. Turn off your mobile data, put your phone on Airplane Mode, maybe go a step further, and put your phone away altogether. Take this time to go for a walk(please limit your walking to your house during this lockdown period), read a book that used to be an old favorite, listen to those songs that give you a good vibe, and most importantly, spend time with yourself. This is an opportunity to actually listen to your thoughts and understand where they’re coming from.
Know that when you fall asleep at the end of the day, your thoughts are your own. At that point, the only person you’re truly with, is yourself. When you close your eyes and fall asleep at night, you deserve to do so with a smile on your face and peace in your thoughts.
2. Understand and accept your thoughts
Our thoughts often end up defining our moods. The negativity we feel is a result of our thoughts constantly telling us what went wrong. It is easier to succumb to the negativity, but to grow as a person, we need to be practicing positive thinking. Focus on the good parts; on the things about your life that make you happy. It could be anything that’s important to you and makes you smile. It could be your biggest achievement or even a simple conversation that you had with a loved one.
While you’re focusing on your positive thoughts, don’t ignore your not-so-positive ones. Sit down, close your eyes, and understand why you feel the way that you do. If what’s bothering you is something that’s still in your control, you can gradually begin turning things around. But if the things that are bothering you are also the things you can’t change anymore, focus on the next part.
Begin with not being so critical of yourself. Even the best of us have done things they’re not proud of. Learn from your mistakes, promise to yourself that you won’t repeat them, and try to forgive yourself. Holding on to what you did wrong doesn’t help in any way. Imagine a house that’s burning down. You’re scared; you’re trying to run from it and save yourself, but you find that you can’t move. You look down and you see a rope holding you to one of the walls of that same house. You find yourself holding a pair of scissors. All that’s standing in the way of your freedom is the strength to bring the scissors to the rope and sever it.
The rope that’s holding you back is your guilt. Instead of letting your guilt control you, use it as a stepping stone. You will come across more situations in your life; situations in which you can make better decisions. Don’t let your life stagnate because of mistakes made that you can learn from.
4. Know that you deserve better than you think you do
You have spent so long being critical of yourself that you’ve reached a point where you aren’t looking beyond your flaws. Know that your flaws don’t define you. They’re just a sheath around you that’s keeping you away from your true self. You don’t need this sheath and you definitely don’t need to be looking at the world with clouded eyes. Strip yourself down to who you are without your insecurities. Now, build yourself up from here. Who do you want to be?
5. Look at yourself the way you want to be seen
We all have an image of ourselves that, as of yet, only exists in our mind; an image of who we want to be when we grow older. It could be us wanting to be a wide range of things: more fearless, more successful, more empathetic. There is no end for what we really want for ourselves. And that’s not a bad thing. We deserve to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Now that you know who you are and who you want to be, there’s nothing stopping you. All of this is an opportunity for your personal growth. Take control of the steering wheel and drive to your heart’s content.
6. Confide in people you love
There will always be people that you trust and can turn to in your time of need. Talk to them now. People we love have a way of helping us see the good in ourselves. At times, all you need is to look at yourself the way a loved one looks at you. Even if you’re not ready to talk to them yet, just having them by your side makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to tell the people you love how much they really mean to you. It’s the darkest times that tend to bring people closer together.
I have a long walk ahead of me, but I exit this quarantine knowing that I’m miles ahead of where I was when it first began. And even though this period has been scary and difficult, I am deeply grateful for the time I’ve had to get closer to finding myself. In the words of Captain Holt(from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for the uninitiated):
“Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”