We can be alone without feeling lonely or sad. We can be alone and useful and content. I am not implying that happiness lies in the complete independence that comes with being alone – after all, we are intrinsically social. Only that aloneness can be pleasant while it lasts, helping to prepare us for interdependence when it comes. Meeting a partner, starting a family, or simply finding the right community to belong to is a process that takes time. Or we may not consciously desire any of that. Either way, we can enjoy our aloneness.
Having been alone most of my life, aloneness has become a kind of habit for me. When I am alone, I don’t wish I were in some other place with someone else. Nor do I feel bored. I’m pretty good at being alone, I guess.
Being alone can be either a reaction to (often unpleasant) experiences, or a conscious choice. Whether you are surrounded by others in a big and lonely city or living in a small town on the edge of the world, if you constantly feel lonely, I have a few things to share with you about getting aloneness right, based on my own experiences.
Make friends with yourself
Not with the face in the mirror or with your body, not even with your thoughts, but rather with the sum total of who you are. Sometimes we crave the company of others simply because we are bored with our own company. That happens if we do not take the time to do the things we most enjoy doing and introspecting – in other words, understanding ourselves and our uniqueness.
Keep a reading list
A reading list is an effective way to cope with periods of necessary loneliness. A good book can be great company, like a wise friend with plenty of good stories and advice to share with you. Whether you choose to indulge in the agreeable escapism of fiction or to boost your knowledge with a self-help book, a reading list ensures you always have something on your shelf good for the occasion.
Go on walks and/or exercise
When you move, the right chemicals in you move, and when that happens, you are less likely to feel alone. I don’t have a tight exercising schedule, but I walk every day for at least 30 minutes. You know the benefits of walking/moving only too well, I’m sure, so I won’t enumerate them here.
Blog your loneliness away
Blogging can help us express our loneliness and, consequently, understand it better, its causes and potential solutions. Also, blogging can connect us to people on the other side of the globe with whom we can get along well in spite of the distance.
Don’t nurture your loneliness
It is in our nature to be social. Even if we are the shy and withdrawn type, like I am, if we go out into the world, even if it’s just for a brief walk to the park, we are bound to interact with others. Even making eye contact with another person as we pass by them can help us feel less lonely. The important thing is not to fence ourselves in.
Be around people without having expectations
There are days when I feel the need to be around people. So I go to a film or to an art gallery and just by being around others I feel that their energy recharges me. If you go out when you feel particularly lonely, maybe you will end up sitting beside me at the cinema and who knows what may happen then?
Don’t overuse social media
We can feel very lonely in spite of our connectedness. Social media isn’t the problem, but rather how we use it. Did you know that over 70% of our language is in fact body language? We don’t really have that online. Social media allows us to nestle into a very comfortable place – the danger is that if we indulge in it we can become socially unsocial.
Nurture your spiritual side
For some people, spirituality is the best cure for loneliness – one that lasts a lifetime. It goes beyond physical loneliness to address the loneliness of existing as a unique individual in time and space. How you nurture your spiritual side and what you do is entirely up to you, but please try not to inconvenience others while you’re at it.
Think of your loneliness as preparation time
There are periods in our life when we feel inevitably lonely. None of the fixes above will work. But if we try to spend our loneliness constructively, to learn new things, introspect, or simply eat healthy and rest, the time we are “forced” to spend alone becomes a good opportunity for us to improve ourselves and become more prepared for the future friendships, relationships, and partnerships that are to come. Being alone, we have the opportunity to work on improving our independence, and independence is the best foundation for interdependence.
Do you like being alone? And is (or has) loneliness (ever been) an issue for you?