How Do You Show Up When You’re Alone?

How Do You Show Up When You're Alone

Conducting an analysis of ourselves is one of the most challenging tasks, requiring high self-awareness.

A common question related to this pursuit, “How well do you know yourself?” is vague and lacks clear KPIs (key performance indicators). “How well” on what scale? According to what measure of analysis?

Considering the concept of analyzing ourselves begs the question, “Where do I even start?”

Where does one begin when exploring the soul and hoping to see himself clearly?

My journey of knowing Self is wrought with stories and lessons that could fill a book.

However, before we embark on this journey of knowing Self, we must first understand where we are starting and then prepare our souls accordingly.

Identify Where You Are Starting

I needed a deep dive into the reality of where I was starting.

Dr. Jeff Spencer is a high-performance coach for the world’s leading athletes, such as Lance Armstrong. Our initial coaching focused on a GPS (Goal Positioning Survey) analysis. In his words, I can only reach my final destination if I know where I am starting.

Rather than the ambiguous question of “How well do I know myself?” let us consider an alternative question:

“How do I show up when I am alone?”

The following questions delve deeper into what I mean by showing up:

  • What feelings consume my body?
  • What topics consume my thoughts?
  • What people consume my brain space?
  • What activities consume my time?

Dedicate 10-15 minutes to answer these questions this evening or tomorrow morning.

Understanding who you show up as—in word, thought, and deed—will unveil your emotional baseline.

Apart from conscious attention, our subconscious emotions guide our decisions, actions, and, ultimately, the very baseline of our souls.

I have no intention of acting as a philosopher, so I will rely on Thomas Moore’s wisdom in conceding the virtually impossible task of confining the soul to a mere definition. His honorable attempts position the soul as the seat of one’s emotions.

Therefore, how we are fairing emotionally is typically a reflection of how we are fairing at a soul level. In so assigning conscious attention, we become aware of the soul itself. Only then do we have the opportunity to see the truth of who we are and then change.

Who you and I are when we are alone is often the most significant indicator of the state of our souls.

Adopt A State Of Being

I consider the state of being as living awake to the internal state of our soul.

When my therapist introduced the concept of ‘being,’ I was at a loss.

But as a good A-type does, I took out my notebook and pencil (before you ask: Yes, I use pencils, and I love them!) and was ready. I eagerly responded: “What are 3-5 ways I can ‘be?’ What does that look like specifically? Do you have any examples of people who are good at being?”

There was irony in my response: “Give me the 3-5 steps of being” only highlighted the box where I structured my thinking and subsequently lived my life.

At the time, this box assigned my value or worth as the sum of my ‘doing’ — actions and impact and words and outcomes. Yet, through this framework, I completely missed the person within.

I was fixated externally on doing rather than internally on my being to inform my worth.


I fixated on the external and ignored me as a consequence.

The questions mentioned above consider how we show up when we are alone and force a reckoning with the reflection in the mirror. I have found the following practices supplement thought-provoking questions as I seek to maintain a state of being, living awake to the internal state of my soul.

I will share further about my experience cultivating this practice, but a tip I will leave you with is to slow down.

  • Go for a walk without your phone.
  • Turn off the music.
  • Be quiet.
  • Be still.

Slowing down to embrace being is incredibly vulnerable as it creates space to notice the state of one’s soul.

Utilize Assessment Tools

As of three years ago, I had little to no sense of Self.

For so long, I lived with my compass navigating east and west rather than pointing north. I was fixated on everyone around me and was guided by their voices alone.

My first step toward cultivating intelligence about who I was was utilizing the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a model of human psychology and personality theory and, ultimately, a tool that helped me begin the journey of knowing. While I recognize some may be reticent toward an assessment, fearing it may put them in a box, it is a great starting place. In addition, I encourage you to consider utilizing a therapeutic process.

The Enneagram and Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy significantly propelled me on my journey of knowing.

Here is a link to a podcast interview on the Tim Ferriss Show in which the founder explains the IFS process.

Cultivating the practice of giving conscious attention to the state of our souls is priceless. It unlocks hidden treasures of creativity and joy. The practice is difficult at first, but the journey to know it is entirely worth it.