Feelings of loneliness have always been an issue. The pandemic has only magnified this as we continue to social distance and so many means of congregation remain shut down. Covid or no Covid, it is always a good time to learn ways to combat loneliness and instead revel in one’s solitude. Here is how to do it:
Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. This is big. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Say it again and again and at least one more time. We need to understand the difference between these two words.
Loneliness is when we are sad because we want interaction with someone else. Alone is just not having someone else physically near you. There is no feeling inherently associated with being alone. That is a conscious or subconscious connection we make to equate loneliness with being alone.
Once we understand the semantics, we can separate the physical state of being alone from the feeling of loneliness and instead replace it with the peace and comfort of solitude.
There are many reasons to find yourself alone at times. Often, the pain of loneliness does not come from lacking interaction with other people but from the judgement we place on being alone.
We imagine we are alone because we are not liked. We think people have purposely excluded us from activities because we are not loved or simply not enjoyable to be around. We spiral into thoughts that make us feel we are ugly or boring or too loud or too quiet.
Could these things be true? Of course, but it is also very possible we have not come to a rational conclusion as to why we have been excluded; if we were even excluded at all. What is the point in judging ourselves or others? It only brings about resentment and despair.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Theodore Roosevelt
The “young’uns” have an acronym, FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out. Everyone else’s life may look shiny and perfect on social media, but it rarely reflects the truth of real life. Stop comparing and judging. This is the only way to find true happiness.
You may be worried that this is just sour grapes or worse, a gateway to insanity. You don’t want to find yourself yelling at your basketball, Wilson, sure that he left the milk on the table. But this is not the case. You must love yourself to enjoy solitude.
“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”—Mary Sarton
Treat yourself like you would a dear friend. You would not allow your friend to judge themselves with a tirade of insults without comforting them and negating each cruel word. Do not allow your mind to abuse you.
Listen to the mean things you tell yourself then take a second to step back and be your own best friend. Tell yourself what you would tell a friend who just said those things about themselves. Say it out loud if possible. It will make it stronger. It will make you stronger.
Make plans to do things with yourself that you enjoy. You are wonderful company! You know exactly what you like, and you know exactly how you want things done. Thank yourself for all of the nice things you do for yourself. Make yourself feel loved and appreciated.
Buy yourself a little something you like, or take yourself on a small excursion you would just love, and then thank yourself for all of it. Isn’t there that movie you’ve been wanting to watch that you have suggested to your friends a hundred times and no one ever wants to watch it. Well, now you have time to watch it yourself. So, enjoy!
Find what brings you true joy. Be honest with yourself. You cannot help but enjoy your solitude if you are doing something you love. Don’t know what you love? Now is the time to sit down and figure that out.
Write down what has brought you joy in the past and whatever your heart has been longing to do and work from there. Then, be as productive or nonproductive as you care to be.
Start projects and hobbies and you will feel in control of your alone time. You may even find yourself wanting to carve out more alone time. When you have direction and set goals for your free time, you will eliminate that feeling of helplessness that often accompanies loneliness.
The last step instructs you to do what brings you joy. But what if what brings you joy is being around other people? No need to fret. People need solitude and alone time to prepare and rejuvenate the soul for when they do interact with other people.
When you throw a party, yes, the end result is being with people, but the preparation often needs to be done alone. There can be much happiness in the solitude of planning for when you are not alone.
Schedule things to do with others. Relax and rest so you have the energy and positive attitude when you do mingle with people. Many individuals are surprised at how much more present, connected, and content they feel in crowds once they just take the time to rejuvenate in solitude.
I do want to be clear that this is a helpful list for enjoying solitude and not feeling lonely. This is not treatment for clinical depression or anxiety. If you think you may be clinically depressed or anxious, please seek medical help through a physician and trained counselor. If you notice suicidal thoughts, call for help immediately at:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you simply would like to learn how to enjoy your solitude, follow these guidelines, and I suspect you will find much happiness with your alone time.
In what circumstances do you feel lonely? When you notice loneliness creeping in, can you transform it into a positive feeling? What do you do to enjoy your solitude and keep from feeling lonely? Let’s talk about it.