With all the isolation this past year, most of us have spent a lot of time alone, or at least away from others, and perhaps hunkered down with our family. You’d think that we would want some ‘me time,’ moments to just be with our own thoughts. Still, some of my friends and acquaintances wonder why they feel alone, after all the overload on being together with their families, and are asking themselves, ‘What’s the difference between being alone and feeling lonely?’ I am so glad you asked!
To begin with, there is a huge difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Being alone is defined as the choice to spend time with yourself and feeling lonely is the need to be with others.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you love your own company and treasure the moments you get time to yourself. Never let anyone tell you that is narcissistic; it’s actually healthy, according to mental health physicians. We fill so much of our lives up with busy time, whether running from work to the gym or chauffeuring the kids from baseball to soccer and finding time for dinner at the drive-thru. But when you understand there is a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely, and begin to embrace a time of being alone all to yourself, you will never again feel lonely in your life.
How Do I Get Comfortable with Being Alone?
Focus on the Joy of Exhaling
When you live life going 100 miles per hour at work and with friends and family, taking time to focus on just being, taking a breath, is rare. When you set time aside to be alone, you have a chance to breathe and exhale, letting all the drama and cares of life fade away from your busy mind.
Brain Fog Lifts
A busy life leads to a busy mind. Multitasking can be a gift and a curse. Have you ever had a day when you are so busy and preoccupied with life that you just can’t seem to see things clearly? Being alone allows this brain fog, as I call it, to lift from your mind, and clears the way for more concise and focused thinking.
Reflecting on Life is a Good Thing to Do
Staying busy in your life and in others’ lives doesn’t lend itself to reflecting on your life. Getting this time alone is essential if you want to answer the big questions in life: What do I want? What can I do in my life to bring myself more happiness and satisfaction? There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow of life, but on major life decisions like work, dating, long-term commitments, having children, etc., you need to spend time weighing what you want, and that can only happen alone. Time goes by quickly, and many of life’s decisions are time-sensitive, so enjoy the ride, but take some moments to weigh where you are and what you want.
Get More Things Done
When you separate yourself from the busyness of life, you tend to get more things done. We all know how difficult it is to accomplish the simplest task while trying to cook dinner, help with homework, and calm a dog barking at a squirrel. I have found that folding laundry is a calming task. No TV blaring in the background, no one in the room with me, just a pile of laundry and me. That can lead to some good thinking time.
Alone Can Lead to Confidence
There’s a confidence in people who have learned to embrace and enjoy their own company. They don’t talk for the sake of being heard; they tend to talk only when they have something to share, and they feel relaxed enough to let others carry a conversation and just listen. There’s a lot to be said for listening.
Understanding and Connecting There is Something Bigger Than YOU
There’s something amazing and yet calming that happens when you have a little solitude in your life. You start to ask the bigger questions: What is my purpose? Why am I here? And what can I do to make a difference in this world? With all the noise that comes with a busy life, it is hard to focus on realizing there is something bigger than you in this world and connecting with that, no matter what you call it; for me, it is my faith and God. This alone time for me is the sweetest because I not only come to know myself better, but I grow to know that One who put me here much better.
Don’t run from spending time alone; embrace it and the person you meet on the other side of that time….a new, more focused YOU.