The Difference Between Being Alone and Loneliness

There is  difference between being alone and being lonely.  The two often get mistaken as being bad.  Both in the context that people who can’t be alone are needy and attention seekers and those that suffer loneliness are sad pathetic crazy cat ladies sitting at home with their cat(s).

Let me define what being alone is.  For me, it is the ability to function without the need of your partner or friends.  For example, I often go out to see shows and movies without my husband.  I can go on road trips/vacations without my partner.  I am comfortable eating alone at restaurants.  I don’t need to be continuously reminded that someone loves me and is thinking about me.  This, would drive me crazy and wonder if my partner is stalking/keeping tabs on me!

Being lonely is a feeling of sadness and isolation.  It is an emotion.  Loneliness by definition “affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.” 

You can summarize that you can be lonely even when you are not “alone”.

I do recognize that I am by default an extrovert.  Meaning I gather my energy from being in the company of others while an introvert needs solitude and quiet to recoop their energy.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate some quiet time to myself or an evening out lounging at the Women’s Spa with no partner or kids to hassle me.  I highly recommend The Olympus Women’s Spa in Lynnwood, WA.  Amazing regeneration and self-care.  Did I mention, it’s a women only spa?!

There are some that think everyone needs to be alone.  Well yes and no.  What I would say, is that we as social animals do need to feel we are part of a society and appreciated as a participant.  We also need to have some sort of balance between the two.  Being alone and being with others.

I am currently on  break from work.  Typical routine that happens when you pursue IT consulting work.  There is an ebb and flow with this work.  When you are working.  You are hustling and busy.  When you finish a project, hopefully, you have something lined up or enough padding to go between projects that you have time off.

What keeps me feeling grounded and connected with myself and going down the rabbit hole of loneliness and despair is keeping to a routine.  For me, that includes daily meditation and checking in with myself.  How am I feeling now.

A set routine of tea or coffee before I set off for the day helps my emotional state of mind to be not anxious.  When I don’t take care of myself, I start getting wrapped up in the “what if” scenarios.  I imagine being completely isolated from everyone and everything that I loose touch with the humanity of myself and life.  Life becomes a bleak existence and what the fu*k is all of this about.  You see where this goes.

This phenomenon is talked about in a recent article I read What’s the difference between being lonely and being alone.  This article talks about the emotional side of being lonely.  It is that feeling of sadness and isolation.

A website that I started following  The Elephant Journal, author Mark Zimmerman writes that “I don’t feel alone when I am by myself because there is life all around me, and I feel connected to it on a number of levels.”

For him, being alone is time treasured with himself and life around him.  How does that feeling of self appreciation work?  For him and many like him, myself included.  It all falls back to meditation and mindfulness. Being aware of where you are and checking in with you.

I feel it is a work in progress. To be comfortable with oneself – being alone and being ok with it. There are many thoughts that come to mind about loneliness and whether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing. I feel when you get caught up in the pit of despair that sometimes loneliness brings, that can lead to self isolation. Self doubt, self hatred. These are negative aspects of our emotions. Not saying we should ignore those feelings and “just be happy”, rather, we should recognize those feelings and take care of ourselves and reach out to others for help when we need it.

I am thinking about isolation and despair that comes from loneliness. To feel you are lonely even when you are in a crowd of people. When you are ignored, either intentionally or not. That is a form of “death”? It is interesting to note that many cultures used banishment as a form of corporal punishment. If by definition, isolation and loneliness is like death, where you are no longer a member of society and are outcast from your family and loved ones.

So how do we get past feeling lonely even when we are in a crowd of people?  How do we rise above the feeling of despair and isolation?

We are social creatures.  We do best when we are living with people. To participate in society is to be accepted.  But how do we get to accepting ourselves first?

Practice, my friend.  Practice and breathing deeply.  Finding the calm inside ourselves and being still.  Being in the moment.  Being alone so you can hear yourself breathing.

With that being said, I need to get back to practical matters.  Doing laundry and musing over things that I see on my way to and from the laundromat.

Cheers!

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