I wanted to share some of my thoughts this week, on a topic that I believe is timely and relevant in these intense moments we are living in. Many of us have been emotionally and physically processing these past 18-months, and in so many unique ways. No matter who we are or where we live, the necessary boundaries enacted to keep us all healthy and safe has led us to feel quite isolated and often times lonely.
I’ve written about solitude and how I learned to be alone in past blogs, however, I know that for many this forced pause and isolation has felt jarring, uncomfortable, and anxiety producing. Human beings are wired for connection, and we are so used to being with people, hugging people, and engaging with people in a meaningful way, that when that connection is broken, it leaves us with a void that we must consciously work to heal and fill.
I’d like to share this week my thoughts on loneliness vs. being alone and how we can differentiate the two feelings, and take aligned action in response to both.
First of all, I do not believe being alone is a bad or weird thing, I actually think moments of solitude are important. I’ve long felt that our societal pressures lead us to believe that that there’s something wrong with you if you’re alone, and in truth, it’s very necessary to know how to be in your own company, comfortably. I recognize that we are all unique in our personalities, introverts might find this quite easy, and more extroverted people may struggle. The baseline of my belief here is that there is necessity in creating a solid foundation within ourselves so that we can start to know ourselves, like ourselves, understand ourselves, and when necessary, be with ourselves without interruption or distraction.
I believe that this looks differently for all of us, as we all have unique life paths, but as life has so blatantly altered our collective realities, this is the perfect time to analyze and reflect on our own inner foundations, and how we can strengthen them. Rather than framing alone time as something to be ashamed of, I encourage you to look at it as something to be empowered by. When you are alone you aren’t distracted, you’re simply with you. When you are alone you can sit with your thoughts and feelings, uncomfortable as they may be, but just beyond that uncomfortableness is a deep knowing, an understanding, and a sense of self-compassion. When we are alone we can begin to clearly see where we can heal and where we need to be more loving and gentle with ourselves.
Loneliness, on the other hand, is a craving for authentic, aligned connection, and you don’t actually have to be alone to feel lonely. I’ve felt incredibly lonely even when surrounded by a crowd of people, and so, I define loneliness as a feeling of disconnect within myself and from those around me. I take my loneliness as a sign that I need to actually sit in solitude to bring to the surface that cause of this feeling. There are so many instances and circumstances and social settings that can make us feel lonely and out of place, and I believe that when this feeling arises, it is an opportunity for healing within ourselves. I used to see my loneliness as a sign of unworthiness, as an indicator that I wasn’t enough, and that I didn’t deserve to feel not lonely. I started to work through this belief when I prioritized and created that solid foundation within myself that I mentioned above.
If you’re feeling lonely during these difficult and unprecedented times, I hope you can take heart in knowing that you’re not alone in these feelings. I hope you can muster a sense of empowerment by using these feelings to strengthen the bond that you have with yourself, and the inner knowing of your needs and desires. I hope that when you’re alone, you know that it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you, and over time you grow to enjoy the solitude and friendship that comes from cultivating this relationship with yourself.
Know that you are worthy of deep comfort, relief, and love.
**By Michelle Maros