Whether it’s loved ones, neighbors, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, or strangers, our days often consist of having to interact, to talk, to listen, and to give of ourselves, without any time alone. Sure, we enjoy, but often the result is that when we find ourselves in solitude, we get scared. It's surprising how easy it is to go from being uncomfortable in a room alone to fearing that there's no one to love us, and no one there to be a witness to our lives.
I had a friend who feared being alone. To avoid that discomfort, she was became a serial monogamist. never so much as pausing for a breath between boyfriends. With each new relationship, there was a tiny shift in her personality. It was obvious to see how she transformed a bit, depending on who she was dating. During that time, without any solitude, she lost sight of who she was.
Being human means we crave the love of people who understand us on our deepest levels. We crave complete acceptance with no judgment. And of course, being with others and interacting — even just through conversation — is one of the greatest pleasures in life.
Love and attention offer us comfort and peace. But solitude can be a blessing. You just have to choose to see it that way. Constant chatter, constant thinking, and constant back-and-forth conversation with others can drain us. We can get so consumed by others’ lives, wishes, hopes, and dreams that we may lose sight of our own. Sometimes when we sit with ourselves to think about a situation, it can be other people’s voices we hear rather than our own.
If we are not in tune with our minds, bodies, and spirits, we can eventually lose our way. That’s what happened to my friend. Eventually she realized she needed some time and space alone to rediscover herself. She learned more in that space about who she was and what she really wanted than she had in the years she had spent in all those relationships, never taking the time for herself.
Can being alone be lonely? Absolutely. But solitude can also be one of our greatest blessings. It gives us the space to process things happening around us, to think, to discover, and to feel our lives more fully. In solitude we often have long-needed epiphanies, come to terms with our lives, sort out dilemmas, and make clear-headed decisions. Providing or embracing solitude for ourselves makes us more energized for when we are with other people.
The next time you find yourself alone, ask how you can use this time to your advantage. Be mindful of the ways you can enjoy solitude so it brings you more peace and makes you more present.
Appreciate the gift of solitude by catching up on things you’ve been wanting to do — whether it’s personal projects or meditating in a relaxing space. You may even want to write a list of ideas so when the time presents itself, you are already prepared and less likely to feel despondent or lonely.
Recognize that there are different seasons in our lives. Some are meant to be quieter than others. We so often see solitude as this dark, isolated place that can drown us, but it can be a life preserver, a line thrown to our soul so it may rise and speak up amid the noise in our lives.
Solitude is the essence your soul needs to maintain balance and harmony. There is nothing to fear about that.
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