Setting Boundaries: Alone Time

…it is in the quiet that we are replenished, renewed and recharged for the demands of our lives. In silence we can reconnect with our true source of energy and inner wisdom. (Sue Patton Thoele).

I often describe myself as an introverted extrovert. A bit of an oxymoron, right? I do that because, while I really enjoy socializing, I also jealously guard my personal or alone time. I enjoy my own company, and I love spending time alone, and I’m unapologetic about it. It allows me to relax, reflect, rejuvenate and get things done in a concentrated, timely manner.

This is a necessity for those with creative abilities. Unfortunately, not many people establish this personal boundary for themselves, and yet many more are uncomfortable doing so.

Setting healthy personal boundaries is important for living a balanced and fulfilled life. Our boundaries are a way of exercising self-control. Self-control is mastery of your thoughts, attitudes and actions. Therefore a person who knows who they are and is living authentically will be confident establishing boundaries. Personal boundaries define your identity, sets expectations and show respect for others. Setting boundaries is good, but maintaining them is even more important. Only a person who knows and is secure in who they are can do this effectively, thus the importance of Discovering the True You.

An important aspect of setting boundaries is carving out alone time. To live a truly authentic life, you must spend time alone to get filled up with divine wisdom and guard the health of your soul.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Prov.4:23 NLT).

Jesus practiced this when He was on earth. After dealing with his opposers, speaking to the crowds, and performing astounding miracles, He often pulled away to a place of solitude. After His infamous miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish, He sent the disciples ahead of Him to Gennesaret. Later, He sent the crowd away, then He

…went up into the hills by Himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. (Matt.14:23 NLT).

Earlier in the chapter, He took time alone to grieve the death of John the Baptist. Before selecting his twelve apostles, He went up to the mountain and prayed to God all day and night. After that time of prayer, He promoted the twelve from disciples to apostles (Luke 6:12-13). This major decision required him to spend an extended time apart to pray and reflect. It is an example for us to follow. Before making any major decisions in your personal life, ministry or business, take time to ask for guidance and wisdom to make the right choices. It is a discipline that I have instituted in my own life. I pray for wisdom and to hear the heart of God on the matter before making any decisions.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. (James 1:5 NLT).
The still small voice is heard more in the silence beyond, around and beneath language than it is in the cacophony of incessant sound (Sue Patton Thoele).

In the hours leading up to his crucifixion, we see Jesus again separating Himself unto prayer. He was experiencing an overwhelming amount of pressure and anxiety, which led to stress. He knew He was about to fulfill the most important task of His earthly life, and so He dedicated Himself to prayer to gain strength for what was to come. Use this as an example to spend time in quietness before embarking on major tasks or projects. Get refueled and reenergized to tackle the task at hand with strength, clarity and wisdom.

The capacity to be alone is one of the highest levels of development. Quiet reflection is associated with the ability to think critically and reason logically. Spending time alone:

  • Allows your brain to rest, refreshes your mind and body, energizes and strengthens you and helps you think more clearly.

  • Is a great opportunity for self-discovery. You become more self-aware and in tune with your emotions and motivations.

  • Promotes deep thinking, which helps you to put things in perspective.

  • Promotes improved mental health and enhanced memory capabilities.

  • Increases your productivity because there are little or no distractions.

  • Improves creativity and helps you to find solutions that escaped you before.

  • Helps you to set a clear direction for your life with vision and goals.

  • Gives you the clarity and confidence to decide what is truly important to you.

Many people struggle with this important aspect of their lives because they are afraid of being misunderstood or labelled as selfish. The result is that they never take a break and end up feeling overworked, stressed, or burnt out trying to please everyone else. We were not designed to function like machines. Even machines are taken out of commission once in a while for maintenance. How much more you? Take time to replenish. I encourage you to do this regularly regardless of what anyone says or thinks. Doing so does not mean you are selfish or self-centred, so no need to feel guilty about it. You are responsible for yourself, not the emotions, beliefs and actions of others.