When you’ve lived as long as I have, you have figured out a few tricks that you can pull out of your pocket on a tough day. Whether it’s getting some rest, taking a walk, talking to a close friend or just having some time to yourself, the key is really re-setting one’s self.

I like to think of it as “coming back” – to myself, to what I believe in, to peace of mind – really, to whatever feels safe and comfortable. Coming back doesn’t mean giving up or abandoning my principles – or quitting. It simply means returning to what I know about myself and my world.

Coming Back Reminds Me What’s Really Important

When I’m busy or focused on lots of projects out in the world, coming back to myself – even if it’s just for a weekend – helps me remember how I got involved in all of this in the first place. If I’m putting in a lot of time on a committee or in a group, it’s easy for it to take on a life of its own.

A few weeks into it, I may have forgotten what drew me in initially. Was it to help people or myself? What is the result I wanted or the process? The answers vary, but coming back to my own thoughts and feelings can calm me and strengthen my resolve to continue.

Coming Back Reminds Me What I Really Need

If I’ve been busy with a task, or even spending lots of time socializing with other people, taking some time for myself helps me remember what I need to keep going. Even taking an evening alone can remind me that I like time by myself – to read a book, write in a journal or watch silly TV.

It’s all re-energizing in ways that mean something to me. I’m an introvert at heart, but I forget that in periods of time when I’m spending hours with other people. An afternoon alone is a good reminder, and it gives me lots of energy to get back into the fray.

Coming Back Re-Introduces Me to My Village

We all have our own village of people – family, close friends, co-workers. These are the people who are there for us when we need them and to whom we go when they need something from us.

If I’m busy and engaged in lots of activities outside of my regular circle, coming back to these close friends is nourishing. It makes me appreciate my people, whether they are my birth family or my life family.

Taking a break from the outside world and spending an afternoon with someone in my village is as energizing as a day spent at a health spa.

Coming Back Helps Me Remember What I Believe

If I’m involved with lots of activities outside of my regular day-to-day life, it’s easy to engage in group think. I can take on the ideas and values of the people with whom I’m working without even realizing it.

I can easily become cynical or impatient, simply because I’m doing a project with someone who is like that. Having a day or two to myself lets me shed some of those attitudes and reacquaints me with my own.

Coming Back Is A Good Way to Fight Disappointment

If I get discouraged, taking the time to rest and think about what I’m doing can ease those feelings. It can remind me that not everything is easy but that I have everything I need to succeed.

I often feel like coming back to myself is a good way to get a second wind and regroup. Then, if I want to continue with a difficult task, I can. If I don’t, I can put my energy into something that feels more worthwhile.

Coming back is really just another way of describing getting ourselves into a comforting and familiar situation. It’s the act of returning to what we know and love – surrounding ourselves with what we need to replenish our energies. Sometimes, in the midst of a stressful time, it’s exactly what we need.

What does coming back feel like to you? Can you think of times that coming back would have helped? When was the last time you practiced coming back to the real you? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Ginny McReynolds is a longtime writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College, and writes about communication, retirement, reinvention, self-concept and creativity in The Washington Post, Curve magazine, and Together.guide. Please visit her blog called Finally Time for This: A Beginner’s Guide to the Second Act of Life.

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