“In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared.” - Henri Nouwen. This quote was given to me as part of a set of proverbs to display in my office at Looking Glass Counseling. As a person who strives to be in social connection, I have kept this quote at the top of my mind for years. Nouwen (a priest, professor, writer and theologian) has written on themes of psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. The reason why I hold his teachings close to mind is because of the value of vulnerability.
Although challenging for me at times, I have found that when I am alone I am able to find ways to pause and reflect on my beliefs, values, and motivations. These reflections fuel me to pursue the things I cherish and esteem. It is in those realizations I see that who I am as a person is not something to overly protect, but rather share openly and comfortably. That does not mean I spill all parts of myself on the floor of life without caution, but rather I cultivate a life that is visible, honest, and transparent as a means of personal growth and social impact. I consider this notion because it is in self-expression (and in engagement with self and others in community) that one’s individuality can be more richly experienced and fulfilled.
Thus, what does alone time look like for you? Who are your closest friends and how much do they know about you? What does your community look like and what commonalities do you share? I ask you to consider these questions as an act of radical softness...as a means to work on yourself and as a means to make an impact on your surroundings. As you make time to be alone and see yourself, be curious about what you find and see where it takes you in the weeks to come.
Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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