My name is Ellsworth Jones, a young entrepreneur from the DC area. I’ve helped launch notable brands such as Elegant Erkél Neckwear, Conscious Crooks, Redd’s Mombo Sauce, and a few other small businesses.
But before the sudden burst of ambition, there was a tragic accident that left me nearly paralyzed. I spent a lot of time on bed rest, pondering the exact question placed here before me: how will I transform that loneliness into a meaningful time for self-reflection?
There’s a misconception floating around that created the idea of loneliness and sulking being synonymous; but it’s deeper than that.
We first need to realize that loneliness simply means “time to ourselves,” a rare opportunity to be more in-tune and find yourself. Ourselves. Upon this understanding, we can begin to explore our own mind without fear of judgment from others.
Then comes the fun part.
So what makes me qualified?
In March of 2015, I was involved in a head-on collision that sent me to the hospital. Surgery was performed, metals were inserted. When I awoke, I was in a lounge chair on the beaches of Maui; or at least that’s how it felt with all the morphine and drugs in my system.
When I came too, I realized that my hip had basically been replaced and I was to be stuck in a bed or wheelchair for who knows how long. This was all just days after my 24th birthday.
This could either be the start of a slippery slope, OR my chance to elevate and evolve into my greatness.
To Find Yourself: Start with a Simple Question…
Are you happy? Satisfied with your current state of being? How do you feel?
If we can begin to be self-aware, we can get a better grip on what we like and don’t like. Write down your answers and elaborate on any parts you deem necessary. For everything you don’t like, write down a way to improve it, or something you can do to make up for it. This is how you slowly find yourself.
But how do you initially become self-aware?
Meditations are a good start. Possibly one of the best ways of learning to “be present” and focused on the now, meditation offers an internal perspective very rarely accessed in our busy society. This can help you find yourself. (That is, if you can manage to maintain a steady breath while sitting or standing in place for 10 -15+ minutes.)
With our attention span getting shorter from generation to generation, it sounds a lot harder in theory than in practice.
But here’s a little secret: picture you’re on a tour bus that lets you hop on and off as you please. For every enticing thought that presents itself, entertain it for a little, just enough to satisfy your curiosity. Then jump right back on the tour bus.
This not only allows you to have more conscious control over your thoughts, but it also allows your mind the chance to wander without feeling caged in or limited.
“Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.” – Mandy H.
What worked for me?
The first few days were the hardest. It started with a rude realization that time still goes on – with or without you. Something that is hard to come to terms with, but a necessary step in our evolution of self.
It opened a new perspective of thought. Maybe I spent so much time focusing on others imposed perceptions of time and value; I had neglected to create my own. This would explain that sense of solitude felt even in the presence of others. Reluctantly I asked, was I lonely?
Maybe I was. But now what? A few weeks later, I stumbled on a video about yoga and meditation. Funny, because this was right at the time the remote control battery went out. “This must be fate,” I thought.
So as they start explaining the benefits of both yoga and meditation, they began to show images of people sitting quietly in sessions to themselves. Seemed kind of like how I spent my time anyway, couldn’t hurt to give it a try.
It took 6 sessions of concentrated thinking about nothing to get it right. This is where that secret would have helped. But when I got it, everything started to make sense. I began to feel the hairs on my arms rise to attention. It became easier to breathe, and the air felt fresher.
“Breathe in through the nose. Hold. Exhale through the mouth;” my new favorite cadence.
Knowledge of self.
Then came self-actualization and understanding. It became clear how average and uniform everything had become.
We all start off having huge dreams and goals. We all have million dollar product ideas we don’t pursue; only to see someone else presenting something similar on QVC years later. We all have that potential for greatness; but few of us actually do something about it.
Too willing to play the victim of life and fall for the “you won’t” and the “you can’t” comments of the world. But even the word ‘impossible’ contradicts itself in saying ‘I’m-possible’.
So enjoy this time of awareness. Seeing the ways in which we are all the same helps in shedding light on how we are unique. And this is where you shift into gear and ultimately – find yourself.
Still I rise.
Insanity is defined as repeating the same actions and expecting different results. So with the new perspective that anything is possible, it now comes down to execution. If the first step was the knowledge of your likes and dislikes, Step 2 would be to set SMART goals.
These SMART goals are benchmarks you’d consider achievable, measureable, and as specific as possible. This will play as the foundation for your gradual improvement, as it still does mine.
One of my biggest personal trials was becoming more in control of my stress level. A large feat it seemed in theory. But in just switching my perception of stress, learning to breathe slowly, and understanding that everything isn’t in my control, the goal became much more manageable.
I began to control what I could, and not worry so much about what I couldn’t.
Upon reaching this level of self-awareness, it finally started to work! I no longer feel the solitude and anxiety that once overcame me. I couldn’t figure what was stranger: having this much understanding and being so in tune; or that it took so long to find myself.
Years later and I never want to be lost again.