Chapter 25

Are you able to be alone?

People who are at peace with themselves have accepted themselves. They are able to accept that they are imperfect. And they do not need to be praised constantly by others to be self-assured. As their own entre­preneur, they are keen to improve themselves. They alternate between maximum concen­tration and effort and relaxation. People who feel loved themselves will never be lonely. They are able to be alone.

Drawing strength from silence

Contented and grounded people show both heart and mind equally. Strong feelings do not discom­bo­bulate your mind and an intel­lectual approach to dealing with life’s demands does not dry out your feelings. These kinds of people are warm-hearted and keep a level head. They are at ease in company but also enjoy being on their own. They love their neighbor just as they love themselves. They exude calm. They draw their strength from silence. They are able to be silent and are nevertheless not tight-lipped. For everything, they wait for the right time and select their words and deeds carefully. They do not exude any self-impor­­tance but rather humility. Since they are aware of their imperfection.

People who can handle themselves are able to accept their imper­fection. They do not project their errors and weaknesses onto others. And they own up to their mistakes and their failures, but they do not resign themselves to them. Instead, they inves­tigate what went wrong with keen senses and precise thinking. They have made a habit of consi­dering themselves and their environment in different perspec­tives and from different viewpoints. And they strive to think develo­p­ments through to the end. They constantly strive to change processes and behaviors where it is most likely to be possible for them and where it will have the greatest impact – on themselves. And they process the events of the day and draw conclu­sions for themselves and for their lives from them. Reflecting is one of their main activities. They also love being alone to do so.

Everything in moderation and at the right time

An entre­preneur once asked me upon my return from a vacation to Mallorca whether I knew about a remote finca with a few basic guest rooms. He claimed that his management team had to relax and chill a little. He said that he didn’t want to do any seminars or sports activities, just get a bit of help with enabling them to unplug. I completely agreed with the realiz­ation that you need to be able to relax. But I had to disap­point him about the way he thought of going about it. Unlike machines, people cannot just be turned off. But today it is part of the feasi­bility approach of managers in the boardroom to believe that people can be manipu­lated at will, whether as customers or as employees. In their opinion, you only need the correct arran­ge­ments and influence techniques.

There are employees whose connection to their employer is reduced to the prospect of a job for life. People who let this happen to them run the risk of burning out. Two weeks at a remote finca will do nothing to change that. Instead, you need to live and shape your life as your own entre­preneur. To do so, we need to remove ourselves from the herd – and that means being able to be alone.

You can construct machines in such a way that they constantly deliver top perfor­mance. People are made differ­ently. They need the switch from tension and relaxation and from focused working to a relaxing calm. People who ignore that in their daily routine risk losing the ability to perform. They either are stuck in their hectic lives, can no longer let go or get stuck in their hammock and fail when they have to make an effort. Self-management tasks include doing everything in moderation and in a timely manner. The prere­qui­sites for peak perfor­mance are created by people who are able to balance themselves. These people under­stand how to gather their strength and orient themselves toward an objective.

You have to be at peace with yourself in order to calm down, bear silence, disconnect, let go, and find yourself and spend time on your own. Without repression, self-deception, running away, or killing off anything. Be honest with yourself! No one can help you with that. People who do not want to be controlled by others but want to be in charge of themselves need to achieve this on their own.

Describe your path of life.

Our life does not play out in a set place, but rather on a road. Just like a river has its banks, our road of life, our path of life has fringes. This path trans­cends space and time. The berms and the path are deter­mined for us and in part by us. They determine the bandwidth of our thoughts and actions. The life circum­s­tances and how we shape our lives determine the course of our life, and interact. Which path of life are you on? Take some time after reading this chapter to describe it in as much detail as possible.

“Billboards” line the edges of our life path. They remind us of major events like graduating from high school, moving out of your parents’ house, starting a job, or starting a family, and they also remind us of strokes of fate that pushed our life into a different direction. There are also signs on the edges whose messages recur. And some of the messages on the left edge and right edges are the same and form poles, as it were, to which we gravitate from the middle of the path, and they alternate. These kinds of poles indicate situa­tions and feelings: alone – sociable, sorrow – joy, active – passive, strength – weakness, loud – quiet. There are many other pairs of poles.

It is important to alternate between the poles. This is the only way to find a balance between your feelings, your thoughts, and your actions. People who remain at one or the other pole too long lose the feeling for the middle of our path of life. However, always wanting to experience happiness is addictive. Being able to grieve as a happy person helps you to keep on your track of life.

Calming down and reflecting

To keep from running out of breath on our path of life, we need to stay fit and pay attention to the correct equipment. You can only do that for yourself and you can get advice and observe what others are doing and how they do it. But only you alone can draw useful appli­ca­tions from this. This is why you right­fully say: I need some time to think about that. So you need to calm down first and then reflect. Calming down means:

  1. taking pause
  2. removing any tension from your body and your mind
  3. letting calm in and your thoughts relax
  4. listening to yourself more and more and sensing how the feeling of wellbeing starts to spread.

You do not need to do this like a fakir on a bed of nails, but you can rely on a few atmos­pheric tools. These tools include:

  • a relaxing bath
  • candle­light
  • sitting on a bench at the park
  • a comfor­table armchair in your bedroom
  • a church pew.

Reflecting means:

  • bringing up the issue or item you need to think about from a place of calm
  • inten­sively visua­lizing the topic or subject and encir­cling it with questions
  • thinking through different assump­tions for their requi­re­ments and consequences
  • concep­tually combining the different thoughts.

Finish every day with a review of the day

You are offered lots of things that promise to help you relax. But all of these are little more than trumpery if you are not able to find your own calm from within yourself. Bring the day to an end before going to sleep! You can use a review of your day to complete it:

  • What did you enjoy? What made you angry?
  • Which things were you able to complete?
  • What ideas did you have?
  • Whom did you help out or whom did you make happy?

When you not only go through these questions and other questions in your head, but write down the answers in a diary – get them off of your chest as it were – you will find yourself, and you will not take anything, especially anything that is getting you down, to sleep with you. Incre­a­singly direct your feelings towards persons and things that enrich your life.

Sundays were once general days of rest. But these days, they are full of events that suggest that you just have to be there. Don’t let yourself be infected by this general need for getting stressed in your free time. This does not mean that you should ignore everything. But be selective. You do not have to attend everything and always show your face every­where. Take time on the weekend that is dedicated entirely to yourself. Think. Dream. Read. Listen to music. Go hiking.

Make yourself aware of your knowledge 

It is good for relati­onships with other people when you are not constantly in each other’s space. However, you should talk to each other about what you thought about when you were alone. Switching between the “alone – sociable” poles ensures that you neither become stand­offish nor dependent. Everything has a time and moderation is everything.

Moderation means:

  • not wasting time
  • setting up everything to be enriching.

The parti­ci­pants in the SINNphOLL seminars are familiar with the method of switching between individual and group work. Group work only becomes stimu­lating and intensive and goal-oriented group dynamics and synergy effects only occur when the parti­ci­pants have made themselves aware of and processed their knowledge and experience on the topic of a task in individual work. You can take advantage of this method for self-impro­­vement as well: Always start with making yourself aware of your prior knowledge.

A world of adults hostile to children

It is difficult to calm down in today’s living circum­s­tances. Children are always super­vised to keep things from happening to them. In kinder­garten, they have to become part of a group. Someone is constantly doing something with them. It is nearly impos­sible for them to discover anything on their own. The complex high-level civiliz­ation of affluent societies with intensive regulation on the part of the government represent a world of adults that is hostile to children.

Once we as children have at least made it to our room to be somewhat on our own, they bury us with homework. Stress starts at school. And there is even more intense disci­plining than in kinder­garten. We add sports, music, and other activities to our schedule. Parents think that this helps us become healthy people that are fit for life and want to give us as many oppor­tu­nities as possible. They are right – but how are the children supposed to do all of that? One of my acquaintance’s sons recently snuck out of his kinder­garten group. Once they noticed that he was gone, everyone was up in arms and they organized a major search party. They eventually found the boy in the outside play area where he had been hiding. He had just wanted to be on his own for once.

But there also is the opposite of this constant super­vision and oversti­mu­lation of children’s recep­tivity: neglect. Some couples are annoyed by their children; they get on their nerves. They leave them to fend for themselves and park them in front of the TV. As a result, their solitude does not become a phase of processing experi­ences they collected, and it deprives them of the oppor­tunity to try out for themselves what they learned in their inter­action with other children and adults. Instead, their being alone makes them feel lonely, and they feel rejected and abandoned since they do not know what to do without others.

Are you afraid of being bored?

Children who are overwhelmed or under­chal­lenged often try to save themselves be joining a group of peers. Some also develop into loners. Whatever it is: For many of us, the inability to string together the “alone – sociable” poles like the uniform turns carved by a skier on our path in life dates back to our childhood and youth. As young adults at the very latest we should use our newly obtained freedom to create times of solitude by relaxing, recharging, coming to terms with ourselves, processing impres­sions and experi­ences, reori­enting ourselves and getting to ultimate questions such as:

  • Which people are role models for me?
  • What do I want to do with my life?
  • What do I want to improve in myself?
  • What am I willing to take on?
  • What do I want to rid myself of?

People who do not pursue these questions during times of quiet and do not let their thinking revolve around the meaning of their lives run the risk of never becoming the entre­preneur of their lives. Instead, they will keep being pushed around by other people. Such people are lonely even when they are around other people. While they strive to be a part of the group, they are only tolerated.

Everyone has to ask themselves the question: What have you geared your life to? Towards recognition by others? If recognition by others deter­mines the path for your life, you live a life that is deter­mined by others. You will never find yourself. Life becomes an escape through busyness. You use the radio, TV, or your computer to constantly keep yourself distracted. You numb your own feeling of insuf­fi­ciency. And you are afraid of being bored. People who are afraid of being bored are afraid of themselves.

Everyone needs family

Societies with lots of singles in which families have become more or less super­fluous for achieving wealth thanks to government support run the risk of becoming enslaved to the addiction to fun and euphoria. It is up to the government to provide education and profes­sional training, secure against life risks such unemployment, illness or inability and to provide financial support and care in an old age. The private sector, organiz­a­tions, and autho­rities offer jobs and therefore income. So what’s family good for? The incre­asing number of single-person house­holds shows that many people believe that they no longer need a family.

But in fact everyone needs family. This is not in the sense of community that achieves the greatest possible wealth, but in the sense of a life community that is connected emotio­nally. This is the only way to give the individual members the confi­dence to experience being valued and loved both as an individual and as a member of the inter­ge­nera­tional community.

Emotional bonds that are able to handle strokes of fate and offer life security require a form of organiz­ation that is in short supply in today’s small and single-parent families. The demands on men and women in their profes­sional roles as indivi­duals rank above performing family tasks and duties. These days, many fathers are more or less incapable of having a family. Many women are not able to face the balancing act of their job and family and prefer their jobs. Some people are even not able to commit to a viable relati­onship and are neither ready for marriage nor having a family.

Are you loved?

There are politi­cians who believe that they can stop the decline of families with public funds. But this is not a problem that can be solved with money and legis­lation. Families can only thrive and maintain a “generation pact” when they are love-based commu­nities. Children created in love parti­cipate in creation. This is outside the reach of any government control. Societies whose members give up their families for wealth give themselves up. Loneliness that is cloaked in busyness and distraction leads to emotional impove­rishment. People who are supported by love are able to be alone.

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