The Greatness of “Aloneness”
When people see someone sitting alone in a movie theater or restaurant, the first thought many folks have is not that the individual may be enjoying his or her own company or actually happy about being solo. For many of us, the first tendency is to see people who are alone and feel sorry for, be worried about, or maybe even judge them. That’s because it is assumed that most people would rather be sharing the activity with someone else. As common as this way of reacting and thinking may be, it can be based on rather close-minded and mistaken assumptions.
Plenty of us enjoy some solitude now and then. Those who appreciate alone time think of “aloneness” as an entirely positive experience. We like to get away from the influence of others so we can unwind, think our own thoughts, refocus, and reboot. Research suggests there are many benefits to grabbing some alone time on a regular basis. Studies have shown that enjoying a little solitude actually helps some people boost their happiness, productivity, creativity, and self-esteem.
Human beings are social creatures by nature, of course, and we tend to be drawn to connecting with other people. So it doesn’t always feel natural to step away from a people-packed existence, even for a short time. With all the stimulation and social interaction we’ve become so accustomed to in today’s world, spending time truly alone can feel rather odd, even uncomfortable. We’re so used to filling all our quiet moments with distractions to saturate the silence… like browsing the Internet, turning on the television, listening to music or podcasts, making phone calls, sending texts, or throwing ourselves into group activity after group activity.
And… let’s face it… these days, getting away from it all is a whole lot harder than it used to be. Advances in technology and the popularity of social media have made it almost impossible to truly be by ourselves… in our own space… with just our own thoughts to keep us company. It’s like we carry other people around in our pockets and are never really alone.
If you see the benefits of “aloneness” and want to incorporate a little more alone time into your life, you may be interested in the following information.
Reasons to Experience Some “Aloneness”
- Alone time gives us a chance to relax and recharge our batteries. When we’re always “on” and involved with others, we don’t get a chance to let go and take it easy. Our minds are constantly engaged and alert, and very often our bodies are on the go as well. Time by ourselves gives us the opportunity to relax and tune out the rest of the world for a while.
- Alone time helps us concentrate. When there are other people around and we’re involved in other things, it can be difficult to fully focus completely on something specific. When we get away from distractions and interruptions, it becomes much easier to zero in our attention. We can then center our awareness on something and give that something our full attention.
- Alone time reintroduces us to ourselves. It can be difficult to hear or distinguish our own thoughts when we’re surrounded by other people and their opinions. When we spend time alone, it gives us an opportunity to really think about things and listen to our own inner voice. We can find our own point of view and get in touch with our own true feelings.
- Alone time helps us make decisions. When there’s a decision to be made, getting input from others can be helpful but it can also be confusing. Stepping away and contemplating a situation or issue on our own can give us a chance to weigh options and come up with the best choice without any outside influences.
- Alone time unleashes our creativity. Being alone can give our creative juices a chance to flow freely. Many successful authors and artists work in secluded locations where they can freely create. Some “aloneness” in a quiet space can bring some ideas, thoughts, and concepts to the surface that we might never have discovered while surrounded by distractions and outside influences.
Tips for Creating Some “Aloneness”
- Take your time getting used to “aloneness.” If you are not used to spending time on your own, don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t force yourself to spend a lot of time on your own too quickly. Find moments here and there during your day when you can be by yourself with your own thoughts. Get used to the “aloneness” experience slowly and learn to find pleasure in it.
- Do things you enjoy. Being on your own doesn’t mean sitting alone in a room… all by yourself… doing nothing. Taking a walk solo offers plenty of “aloneness.” A walk provides time to think and get to know yourself. So does listening to some relaxing instrumental music or enjoying a hobby. Just make sure there there’s nothing else going on that can take over your thoughts.
- Schedule solitude. Set aside specific chunks of time to be by yourself and alone with your own thoughts. You may want to actually block off time on your calendar for alone time. Maybe it’s in the early morning before you start your day, maybe it’s a break at lunch, or maybe it’s in the quiet hours of evening.
- Fully embrace silence. “Aloneness” means no distractions. No interruptions. It means turning off your phone, television, computer, and anything else that fills your environment with sound and activity. Silence can be more refreshing and rejuvenating than you might imagine.
- Breathe. That’s right… give yourself a chance to really breathe. Getting away from the commotion of life can give you a chance to breathe more deeply and get more oxygen flowing throughout your body. It’s rare to find someone who actually takes full, deep breaths during a day filled with people and activities. Breathing in a truly full and deep breath can take concentration. Try some deep breathing exercises and you may be surprised by how shallow your natural breathing pattern really is as you go about your normal day.
- Create a special spot for “aloneness.” It’s nice to have a retreat where you can be alone and enjoy time by yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant… just an enjoyable setting where you can get away from it all without distractions or interruptions. Maybe it’s a spot where you can light some candles and sit with some comfortable pillows. Maybe it’s some secluded outdoor setting where you can be surrounded by nature. Maybe it’s at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee by yourself.
- Write in a journal. Jotting down your thoughts can help you see and understand them more clearly. Over the course of our lifetimes, many of us learn to tune out our inner voice. We no longer hear what is going on inside our own head. It can be quite enlightening to sit quietly and write down whatever comes to your mind.
When “Aloneness” Hurts
There is a big, big difference between making the decision to spend time on your own and being forced to be alone because you feel you have no other option. Although “aloneness” can be beneficial, loneliness and isolation can impact our lives in damaging, hurtful ways.
Plenty of people in the world feel alone and isolated. Some withdraw from social interaction out of fear, anxiety, depression, or some other difficult emotional, social, or physical issue. For others, seclusion is thrust upon them due to the circumstances of their lives. These folks may want and/or need contact with other people, but feel they have no way to get it.
Thankfully, there are organizations geared toward broadening social contact, such as religious and spiritual organizations, senior centers, libraries, book clubs, and social groups. There are also health professionals who specialize in helping people deal with the difficult aspects of loneliness, isolation, and seclusion.
If you are feeling the negative effects of loneliness, please reach out to your physician. He or she can help you identify the best and most effective ways to deal with the issue