Being alone, being lonely, and being by yourself all sound similar. However, the three are very different like the words: there, their, and they’re.
In regards to relationships, the feeling we can get from being alone, and being lonely, can be counterproductive, and feed on us like a leech. Being by yourself is more of a necessary action one takes to recalibrate, reconstitute, and reinvent.
When we feel alone, this means we are without, lacking something, or someone we perceive we need. Devoid of the presence of another human that we feel close to—we feel abandoned, or unattended. Under those circumstances, we can succumb to feelings of desperation, depression or suicide. At the very least, this can lead to terrible decision making.
Being alone doesn’t always mean we’re physically without a companion. It can also mean we’re currently in a relationship with someone who is emotionally, and mentally absent. They leave behind a desolate, desert-like feeling in their wake.
There are even times when we have a person(s) that cares, and supports us. However, the feelings of being alone are far deeper than they are able to comprehend. In these cases, a more experienced person may by needed.
Renown neuroscientist John Cacioppo, defines loneliness as:
“perceived social isolation, or the discrepancy between what we want from your social relationships and your perception of those relationships.”
When we feel alone, the best course of action, is find a space where we are constructively supported by individuals who have our best interests at heart. Notably, people who care about our well-being.
The word Lonely is defined as:
affected-with, characterized-by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.
Being lonely can be very dangerous when it goes unchecked. It feels like there’s no one around you. Even when you’re in a crowd of people, you feel like the only one in the room. You can have supportive family, and friends, and still feel like nothing matters.
John Cacioppo, a researcher in the field of loneliness, points out:
loneliness is on the rise — from 11 percent to 20 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to 40 percent to 45 percent in 2010.
Basically, loneliness sucks!
I’ve personally jumped into the deep abyss of borderline depression. It was all a result of feeling lonely. The journey back to the top where I could breathe again, was exhausting to say the least. If you do not have a solid plan to get yourself out of this dark place, it can lead to other issues… psychological, emotional, and physical.
Feelings of loneliness, can also lead to allowing unsavory individuals with bad intentions, and ulterior motives into our lives. As a result, bad decision-making become second nature.
When we’re lonely, our judgement has collapsed, like a punctured lung in need of inflation. Consequently, the overwhelming amount of negative thoughts can consume us. This is when positive reinforcement comes into the picture. We must force ourselves to remember:
- This is a moment in life, not the end of your life. You can get through it.
- We all feel alone at different stages during our life. We are not weird because we feel this way.
- Embrace the time to yourself. In a world filled with tasks, kids, work, errands, groups, and social media, it’s rare to have time for you.
Psychology Today writer Robert L. Leahy Ph.D says:
Rather than thinking that you need to rely on others for love, acceptance, and compassion, you might direct these thoughts and feelings toward yourself. This can include acts of loving kindness toward yourself such as making yourself a healthful treat or buying yourself a simple gift; directing loving thoughts toward yourself by giving yourself support for being who you are and by being your own best friend.
Being By Yourself
Here’s where choice comes in.
Being by yourself means you have decided to go on your own for this round. I’m a firm believer that everyone should take this step. Especially after a relationship. Taking time to reflect on past decisions. Even using the opportunity to grow ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically. These are all byproducts of taking the time out, to be by yourself.
Time with yourself is priceless. You can think through previous actions without distractions. I’m not saying people are distractions (OK, yes I am) but you get my point.
At one point in my life, I had to break off a relationship because I couldn’t focus while she was around. I wanted to evolve, and become better, but I needed some time away from her to do so. While she didn’t necessarily understand my strategy here, I knew I needed that time to myself, in order to heal my mind, spirit, and heart. In addition, I needed to grow myself to a new level. For this reason, I was able to ascend into the man I am today.
This is why taking time-out to be by yourself is priceless. It is also why it is vastly different than being alone, and being lonely.
Next time someone asks you, “don’t you hate being alone?” You respond to them by saying…
No, I like being by myself