I’ve always loved my alone time. I love social events, but alone time has always been my place of recharging and refuelling – I’m your typical introvert. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wander over the border separating alone from lonely on occasion. To some people, they’re inseparable concepts, but they needn’t come hand in hand. Your alone time is capable of being just as fulfilling and enjoyable as your time spent with people, introvert, extrovert or otherwise, and it’ll benefit you that it is (more on that later). Let’s explore how to be alone (without being lonely).
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” – Bell Hooks
What are the benefits of learning how to be alone?
Be confident in yourself and your own ability
It’s a point made by every person who’s ever travelled alone: you don’t really know yourself until you’re the only person you have. So push a few boundaries by yourself. I find many people are fine being alone when they’re comfortable. We retreat into our aloneness for comfort, for quiet nights in, for relaxation and rest, and then we push ourselves and our boundaries when we’re with other people. Of course, this makes perfect sense, people are a safety and a security, but why not push a few boundaries on your own? If you can prove to yourself that you can trust yourself, that you can face fears by yourself well… you’ll be pretty unstoppable.
Get to know yourself
This confidence also extends to knowing who you are and becoming confident in who that is. We naturally shift our persona slightly when we’re around different people. Our brains are wired to mould to fit into a group and to solidify our role in a dynamic. We explore the world alongside others so it’s only natural that their thoughts and beliefs start to influence our own. That’s not a terrible affliction for most of us most of the time, but when we spend too little time alone, we can start to lose the solid footing of who we are without anyone else’s influence.
Learn to be an observer
If you’re naturally inclined to be deep in the action, it can be refreshing to step back and learn to be an observer. Take yourself out for dinner, to the cinema or sit in a park to watch the world go by. You can be in the spotlight and still aware of everything around them, it’s quite a different experience to consider things from the outside. The new perspective may surprise you with the ideas and thoughts it sparks.
Do the things you love
The best thing about being alone? No compromises. You’re in full control of what you do, how and when. So grab your alone time with both hands. This is the perfect time to dedicate to your hobbies, your goals and the things that make you feel good. Always keep growing and blooming into who you are.
How to deal with loneliness
Remember what you have
There’s a lot of differences between being alone and being lonely, but the key difference is that when you’re alone, it’s not that you don’t have things surrounding you, it’s that you’re just without them right now. Your friends, your family, your home, whatever you’re missing still exists. Whether it’s with you right now or not, it’s still a part of you. So remember that you have those things. Turn sadness at their absence into love for their existence, even when it’s not in front of you.
Connect (to things besides people)
Recently, a friend of mine (as extroverted as they come) told me about a feeling he’d had sitting on a rock at the beach. He’d taken a walk down to the coast alone and said that despite being alone, and normally hating it, he felt connected to the environment around him: the rock he was sitting on and the sea in front of him. That was enough to keep him company and stop him feeling lonely.
Company is all about connection. You can feel entirely alone in a room full of people or perfectly fulfilled in an empty room so long as you’re connecting with something. This is why people recommend getting pets if you’re feeling lonely. The connection they provide keeps you grounded and they bring energy to a space. But you can choose to connect to whatever, a pet, a plant, yourself, the activity you’re doing or the environment around you.
Feel everything around you. Focus on and take in the little things. The world is full of so much life, so much movement and so much sound, that it’s pretty difficult to feel alone.
Keep things fresh
I always talk about the importance of keeping things fresh to stop yourself falling into a rut and it continues to be true for stopping yourself feeling lonely. So much of the connection we seek in other people is about finding energy, new ideas, things to keep us moving. Keeping things fresh will help you do this for yourself.
Revamp your routines. Make plans with yourself. When I started treating my alone time as an event, the same as I’d treat time in company, was when I started feeling 10x more comfortable alone and started having 100x more fun with it.
Knowing how to spend time alone is a valuable skill that makes a difference in every part of your life. The confidence and trust you’ll build will make you happier and more capable whatever you’re up against, alone or not.
Love, Ella-Rose xx