Loneliness vs. solitude
Millions of people today suffer from loneliness. It could be someone in a unhappy marriage or someone who has lost a loved one who has passed away. It could be someone who is suddenly alone after a relationship break-up or just someone who is unhappy with their state in life.
No one is immune to the sting of loneliness which seems to amplify feelings of regret, fear, resentment, disappointment or even anger. The problem with staying stuck in these negative emotions, feelings or mindsets is that they will tend to increase unless a person can learn the benefits of being alone. I can hear some of you now – “and what exactly would those benefits be – Tim?”
Keep in mind that you can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. You can be spending time in your favorite activity and still feel alone.
But, first let’s discuss the three stages of being alone whether for an hour, a few weeks or even years.
First there is loneliness. This state of mind is filled with all of the negative emotions I just mentioned above. People in this emotional state will tend to feel sorry for themselves, abandoned or without hope that their situation will ever change for the better in the future. They tend to focus on what is missing in their life or what they miss – what used to be when – in the past.
These folks feel stuck without options and seldom take positive action to change or improve their circumstances. This tends to be the lowest mental state in the – I am alone – position.
Moving up a notch we have – aloneness. This is where people are generally ok with being alone, but if they had a preference they wouldn’t be. They don’t suffer from the all of the same negative emotions, but they do tend to feel somewhat out of control. This is a more positive mental state or position to be in than loneliness, but it still can bring with it feelings of fear, frustration or remorse. These tend not to be their dominant feelings, but they can surface at any time depending on circumstances.
The highest level in these positions is – solitude. Solitude is a positive emotional state in which people look forward to this alone time and use it positively or constructively. They see this quiet time as beneficial in many ways. They will use it for introspection, self-evaluation or meditation. They will feel blessed that they have this time alone and actually look forward to it for personal reasons.
I’m not talking about a person telling you – I need my space. That is something totally different and generally not even related to this subject. A person who has suddenly found themselves alone permanently or for long stretches of time due to a relationship break-up or the death of someone will find creative ways to use this time.
They will take up a new hobby or interest. They will get more active in their career, community or church. They will go back to school, read more or just spend more time contemplating life.
The thing to keep in mind is that all of these positions or mental states have nothing to do with being alone, but how a person chooses to interpret being alone and what they do about it – in the end it’s a choice.
Being single for the past several years and self-employed for many years I have a great deal of alone time. So – I write a lot, read a lot, think a lot about life’s situations and how I can help others with my writing and speaking – thus this article.
Sure, I love company and going out on the town and sometimes I’d rather go to a concert or hiking with someone as opposed to being alone, but I am OK doing these alone as I like my own company and this is one of the keys to how a person will handle this subject.
Do you need constant validation and attention from others or can you give those to yourself? Do you get bored easily? Do you need a great deal of external stimulation or can you just be with you and that’s ok?
If you are alone whether for just a few weeks or several years regardless of why you are alone as a result of a choice you made or some unforeseen circumstances the real question is – are you living your life or just waiting – or something to happen? Imagine how much of life is wasted – waiting!