Being alone can be daunting for many.
It's a concept that invokes mixed emotions. Humans are social creatures after all. We are meant to socialise, build relationships and connect with other people in order to sustain our well-being.
For many of us, life is about experiencing happiness wherever we can find it. And that happiness is usually encountered whilst in the company of other people.
We become used to talking to friends, colleagues, partners and family every day. Our lives are filled with conversations and commentary. Most of our spare moments come from being with others or planning to be with others. We give little thought to the time we spend away from others. In fact, for many people, this spells feelings of dread and anxiety.
Many of us can't stand the thought of being by ourselves for too long without distraction. We have become conditioned to feel most at peace in the company of others. However, in doing so we are missing out on something that is critical to our well-being: solitude.
So just why is the ability to be alone so important?
Allows you to relax.
Solitude helps us to recharge. We all need time to recharge our batteries, both physically and mentally. Solitude allows you to do this by providing a break from the demands of everyday life and the pressures of social interaction.
When we are alone, we can rest, relax and enjoy our own company without distraction or interruption. Solitude is a way to escape the pressures of modern life. We live in a very high-pressure world, and many people feel like they're constantly on the verge of burnout. When you're alone, there's no one around to enforce your obligations or expectations; this allows you to take some time off from all of that pressure and just relax.
Helps arrange your thoughts.
Solitude helps you focus without distraction or interruption. Sitting with your thoughts can be beneficial because it helps you sort out what is and isn't important in your life. You can also use this time to think about what you want out of your career, relationships, hobbies and day-to-day activities.
As human beings, we need time for self-care in order to function at our best. Your thoughts are powerful and can help you to manifest your dreams into reality. By sitting with yourself and reflecting on what you want out of life, you'll be able to get clearer about the next steps you need to take.
The more time you spend with others, the less time you have to plan for yourself.
Better understand yourself.
You can’t know yourself intimately until you are alone.
Most people don't realise this because being alone is something that society has made difficult for us to do in today's world. Even without other people around, there are now more distractions than ever that urge us to divert our attention away from ourselves.
It's not just because there are too many things to do or places to go. It's also because we have been trained from childhood to mistrust our own thoughts and feelings as well as other people's opinions about us (especially if those opinions come from people who don't know us very well).
Being alone isn't just the absence of other people; it's a state of mind that allows you to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. When we're constantly surrounded by people, it can be hard to hear our own thoughts or feelings without them being drowned out by others.
Strengthens your self-connection.
There is a reason why the most successful people in the world often spend a lot of time alone. If you want to be successful, it's important to get to know yourself first. You need to figure out what you like and don't like, how you see yourself, what makes you happy and how far are you willing to go in order for that to happen.
Solitude teaches us how to be our own best friend because it helps us understand ourselves better. When we're alone, we can take our time with things and think about who we are as individuals without any distractions or pressures from others around us.
Being alone will help you realise what makes you happy instead of how you can please others. It's easy to get caught up in what everyone else wants for you, but when you're alone, it forces you to think about what's important to you.
Become more comfortable with who you are.
If you're alone, you can learn about yourself in ways that are hard to do when you’re constantly surrounded by others. When we're around other people, we often rely on them for our sense of self; because they have certain qualities and skills that we don't have, it's easy to define ourselves as lacking those traits.
But if you spend time alone, especially if it's a regular thing in your life, you'll find that this doesn't have to be true. You don't have to be less than someone else because they're good at something that is difficult for you.
Being alone lets us become comfortable with our own strengths, weaknesses and preferences, which allows us to communicate more effectively with others when necessary. It also helps us understand our values better so we know what kinds of situations will and won't make us happy.
Become more decisive and creative.
Solitude is the ability to be self-reliant, which may help you become more creative and make decisions that are less influenced by other people's opinions. It gives you time to think through problems or decisions in your own way, instead of relying on others' ideas or advice.
Great artists often require large amounts of time alone to refine their craft and create their art. Much of the world's greatest art has been crafted in silence: paintings, songs, compositions, books, scripts, sculpture, architecture and countless other things that couldn't have been created in a distracting environment.
Being alone is also an opportunity to process your thoughts so that you can grow as a person. Any form of self-reflection can help you see things from a new perspective or gain insight into your own behaviour. When we figure out why we do certain things like what motivates us or what makes us happy or sad, then we're able to make better decisions about our lives in general.
Helps to improve relationships.
People often think of loneliness as a negative feeling, or a state to be avoided. But alone time can actually be really beneficial for your relationships by helping you to think about what you want from them. Spending time alone can help us reconnect with our own needs and figure out what we want from our relationships with others.
When you become too close to people, it's easy to take them for granted. Having space apart will allow you to appreciate what you have in your life. Being alone also gives us the opportunity to reflect on our life choices, which is important because relationships shape who we are as people in so many ways.
Without giving ourselves some time apart from others, it’s hard to know what our values are or if they align with those of others around us.
Becoming more productive.
When you're alone, you can get tasks done without any distractions. You know when you have to do something and how much time it will take, so there's no guessing or procrastinating. Even if you don't have much free time, being alone gives you the opportunity to work in short bursts instead of trying to do everything at once.
When we're alone, we automatically become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings because there isn't anything distracting us from reality like social obligations or responsibilities outside our personal lives like work or school commitments. It's much easier to be productive in all aspects of your life when you have time to prepare.
Critical for spiritual development.
And finally, we come to potentially the most important reason for being alone to become a superpower. It comes from a very simple and logical concept that is often underappreciated and overlooked.
In many aspects of religious and dogmatic practice, the idea of community is encouraged and worship is performed often collectively. However, in many other traditions, a spiritual connection can only be forged through the connection to oneself.
Mindful practices and philosophies rely on individuals to experience themselves and focus on observing and understanding their own thoughts and emotions. The more comfortable you are with being alone, the fewer distractions and thus greater progress you can make on your inner journey.
Whether it's meditation, mantra chanting, prayer, breathing techniques or introspection, solitude is the key ingredient to strengthening the spiritual connection with yourself.
You can find out more about spirituality in my post, here.
It may not seem like it at times, but solitude is a powerful tool for self-development. Time spent alone allows us the space for reflection, contemplation, creativity, productivity and growth. It’s easy to think of solitude as a burden, but it’s also an incredible gift. Those who embrace the time when they’re alone are able to reflect on their own lives and find meaning in what they do.
By learning how to be alone, you will begin to create some space between who you think you are and who you really are. Often, our self-perception is rooted in how others think of us. Being alone will eliminate many distractions and provide you with the opportunity to think deeply about yourself.
Solitude is a direct gateway to inner peace and contentment. We need time alone to process what we are going through in life because it's only when we're alone that we can truly be with ourselves. It doesn't mean you have to cut yourself off from the world and everyone in it. However, if you don't spend any time in only your own company, then your self-growth will always hit a wall that you won't be able to pass beyond.
Being alone is a critical aspect of your mindful journey. If it's something that you have resisted in the past, then you should consider taking small steps to spend a little more time with yourself. Even if it's only a few minutes to reflect on the day ahead or the day that's just passed.
Finally, don't confuse being alone with being lonely. They are two completely different concepts. Being lonely implies sadness. Being alone implies strength. Learn to become comfortable being alone and you will unleash a superpower that can and will unlock many doorways to fulfilment within your life.
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Ronin is an entrepreneur, creative, writer and expert in meditation, mindfulness, well-being & yoga, plus founder & CEO of mello, a proactive well-being platform.