Loneliness is tough. And especially because you have to deal with it alone, it becomes your own internal struggle. There are two ways how to deal with loneliness. The first much talked about way, is to escape it. The second less explored, but in my opinion much more important, is to learn to accept it.
There is a saying “the way out is through”. And this saying applies well when dealing with loneliness, perhaps among the most difficult of emotions to face.
Loneliness has a more popular cousin, called solitude. While loneliness is not experienced by choice, solitude is a choice that is made consciously. In fact, periods of solitude are highly recommend as valuable time alone, during which you practice retrospect, establishing better communication with yourself, for a higher state of self awareness.
The difference between the two as you will see, is a state of mind. Here is why. I enjoy my time alone. I enjoy retreats, taking solitary walks, and travelling. I enjoy it tremendously, but only as long as it is my own choice. As soon as my time alone is no longer voluntary, I begin to feel lonely.
The lonelier that “we think” we are, the more introverted we tend to become. We further isolate ourselves from friendships and activities. We tend to become more withdrawn, and often retreat into our pain. The difference is, in solitude we have a choice. In loneliness, we do not. But loneliness, is a self-made condition, a reflection of our own belief.
Ironically, just because we’re surrounded by people does not necessarily makes us not lonely. We’re all too familiar with stories of celebrities who experience extreme loneliness, even while surrounded by the many fans, staff and friends. Often, they end up drowning their loneliness in substance abuse only to create more tabloid news…
It’s important to understand that in itself, being alone, is a perfectly natural state. In fact it is more natural to be alone, than to be in the company of others. The old cliche “you are born alone and you will die alone” is true. Indeed, surrounding yourselves with people is temporary, as we are all solo travelers on this journey.
Therefore, you must change your approach to loneliness, by perceiving it as solitude. You need to accept the fact that for whatever reason, you are currently alone. Most likely this is but a temporary situation that needs to be fully embraced. Don’t label it as something negative. It is, what you believe it to be. Change it into a positive, learning experience by following these steps.
Learn to love yourself. No matter how “alone” you are, you are still there. Irregardless of the circumstances of your solitude, learn to enjoy your own company. If you’re going to be spending time by yourself, you might as well enjoy it. Find a comfortable place in your mind, and your time alone will become much better!
Discover New Activities
Discover activities that you can enjoy while in the solitude. Try new things that you’ve always wanted to do. Explore your creative side. Learn something new. Meditate, do yoga, write poetry, start a blog, exercise. You are limited only by your imagination. There are many, many things that can be done alone.
Get to Know Yourself
Solitude is a great opportunity to get to know yourself better. Use it to spend quality time with your thoughts without interruptions. Reflect on your life, think about how you got here. Don’t focus on making yourself so busy that there is never a time to be with your thoughts. Embrace who you are inside.
Keep in mind that solitude is something that many people only wish they could have. It can be an awesome opportunity to grow and develop. I personally require at least a little bit of solitude each day to help me remain balanced. I don’t know what I would do if I had to remain around people constantly. Enjoy this period of your life, because as with everything else, it’s only temporary.
I thank Alicia Collier for making the following points:
Finding a partner is not enough to solve the social pain of loneliness, which is a fundamental part of the human experience.
Welcoming loneliness is an approach that is often overlooked. The experience and emotions that arise from being alone do not necessarily need to be suppressed. If we welcome being alone, then we may discover an opportunity even in loneliness.
Live well. Vlad