Arnie rushed into my office, suit jacket flapping behind him. As he sat down delivering a heavy sigh my client complained of schedule overload. I giggled reminding him that he was retired. In my mind, any calendar overload was self-inflicted. Shrugging his shoulders a serious look crossed his face as he checked an alert from his phone. Rolling his eyes he muttered something about a golf game.
Getting down to business, I soon understood Arnie’s problem. He developed a habit of accepting every social invitation that came along. Although this might not sound like much of a problem, it can lead to a dysfunctional lifestyle. It is sometimes dubbed the “cannot say no syndrome.” I have coached many individuals who fall into this category.
Delving deeper into why the “no” word was missing from Arnie’s vocabulary he admitted there were many times he would rather stay home with Chinese takeout and a good book. He went along because he did not want to offend anyone. I pushed back asserting the multiple polite ways to decline an invitation. It seemed to me there was more to this than a case of overly polite manners. After more discussion, it became evident Arnie’s real issue surrounded the “left behind syndrome.”
Actually his reason for going along with the crowd is not as trite as it sounds. Social media has penetrated our lives. Sitting home alone observing the partying gang posting’s on Facebook or Instagram, can elicit feelings of being left out, but only if you let it.
Whether you are a baby boomer, Gen X’er or millennial, hanging out with yourself should be a satisfying and enjoyable experience. Carving out time from your schedule to spend developing your creative side, going for a solitary run or sitting in silence and quieting your mind is a healthy choice. Solitude does not equate to loneliness. Developing a deep connection with yourself leads to clarity on life choices, and future goals.
About a week later Arnie returned to my office proudly announcing he canceled a social engagement, turned off his smart phone
and spent time alone puttering in the garage with his playlist softly streaming in the background. When I inquired how he felt about not going out, Arnie flashed a grin admitting he felt relieved. He chose to do what made him happy and realized he wasn’t bored or feeling left out. In fact, he declared, “I’m a rather cool guy to hang out with.” Agreed. Hanging with Arnie is fun.