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Life Stages

Mid-Life/Empty Nester

How to Spend Time AloneLife Stages - Midlife

For 20+ years your home has been full of noise and laughter but the kids are in college now or married and on their own, your spouse is still working the long hours, and you find yourself alone much of the time.

To be privately alone can be difficult because, there we are, yammering away at ourselves. Unless a person has a lot of psychological tools at their disposal, the mind is not a pleasant place to inhabit. We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus we have a natural tendency to focus on the negative. When the brain is at rest, it tends to get busy revealing problems from the past and anticipating problems to come. We fret over the unemployment stats and what our mother-in-law had the nerve to say at dinner last week.

Mindfulness is what we have to learn to practice. It simply means focusing on whatís around you instead of the chatter in your head. When we pay attention to our senses, we can appreciate the color, the texture, and the fragrance of a velvety red rose without thinking: Roses. Valentineís Day. Why doesnít anyone send me flowers? Because Iím fundamentally unlovable, thatís why!

Being publicly alone can require a certain amount of bravery, as you know if youíve ever sat solo in a restaurant and felt the pity of fellow diners. If you feel awkward, thatís because youíre telling yourself a story about what other people think. Instead of worrying about other people noticing you, try noticing them. Do they seem content? Worried? Bored? Make up a story about them. It will get your mind off yourself and your awkwardness.

Kingsport Press Credit Union employees may not be able to come spend the day with you but, when you do business with us, weíll treat you like our own family and enjoy hearing about your adventures in the restaurants!

Source: Real Simple Magazine/January 2013

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