Are You Scared to be Lonely?

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God created Adam and placed him in paradise, the most beautiful place one could ever find. Yet Adam began to feel lonely and bored after a while. God has been watching His creation closely, so He created Eve as Adam’s partner, who can provide companionship to Adam.

Humans are inherently social being and have a strong urge of belongingness, and when this urge is not satisfied, they feel unappreciated and unaccepted. Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time, but for some, feeling of loneliness is far too distressing. Feeling alone can trigger very powerful emotions such as dejection and depression and in extreme cases can lead to early death.

In order to avoid such distress, people opt for bad relationship over being alone. But what they do not realize is that by staying in the wrong company they would feel even more alienated and aloof. One of the main problems we face in practicing solitude is the social stigma associated with it. People who preferred to be alone are labeled as introvert or difficult to be adjusted with. Hence, in order to avoid that label, people try to be associated with the group of people that are considered popular and getting connected with them can be seen as respectful.

However, it is astonishing that spending time alone with your own thoughts is not as bad as it may sound. In fact, it is better to be alone than stuck in a wrong company, because wrong company depreciates your self-worth and drags you down. It can harm you more in all aspects – physically and mentally. All those emotions, which are attached with loneliness are actually brought up by staying in the wrong company.

In general, loneliness is associated with the negative connotation. It is supposed to bring depression and dejection. On the other hand, solitude is considered to be positive term, where person finds peace in his or her own company. People may fear loneliness but their solitude has great powers, once a person embraces it, he or she can step onto the path of discovering one’s own self.

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” Hermann Hesse

Solitude is the utter freedom – a freedom from social norms, freedom from self-imposed limitations, freedom from ignorance, freedom from everything that keeps you from being true to yourself, and freedom from living a life that has no purpose or meaning.

It is important to note that being alone is not about developing hobbies or getting involved in activities that divert your mind. It is about developing a greater sense of tolerance with your own self and enjoying your own company. Matthew Bowker, a psychoanalytic political theorist, who has spent years on research on solitude, pointed out that it is not just being alone, it is a “deeper internal process.”  All of the famous thinkers and philosophers like Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Friedrich Nietzsche, and many others made a discipline of creating space for solitude.

Kenneth Rubin, a developmental psychologist, pointed out that Solitude can be productive only: if it is voluntary, if one can regulate one’s emotions “effectively,” if one can join a social group when desired, and if one can maintain positive relationships outside of it. When such conditions aren’t met, then solitude can turn into loneliness and can be very harmful.

One of the main hurdles in practicing solitude is our high dependence on technology that has made us super connected community globally. Everything is available on our fingertips. We may be sitting alone in our home but we are virtually connected with millions of people through social media and several apps through our smart phones. The noises from outside world are too loud and distractions are way too much. Disconnecting yourself from the hustles of the world is a constant struggle. However, you can shut off these noises by following some of these practices below:

Some of the practical ways to practice solitude are:

  • Disconnect yourself from all gadgets for at least one hour and focus on your thoughts.
  • Meditate – it clears up your mind from noises and unnecessary chatters
  • Stay close to nature – Go for a long walk and observe the beauty of the moment
  • Write letters to yourself – write down all your feelings and thoughts and try to talk to yourself as a friend.

It is important to have good relationship with your spouse, children, parents, colleagues and etc. but at the same it is extremely important to have a healthy relationship with your self – your heart and soul. Because only by loving yourself fully and being true to yourself can you feel love and be true to the people around you.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn that anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” — David Whyte

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