Being Alone


The holidays are over and we are in the heart of winter. Winter is the season where life contracts and turns inward. It is the season where we typically spend the most time with ourselves.

Being alone creates two very different people: those who are lonely and those who experience solitude. Loneliness is an anxious state of fear and trepidation as one wants the connection and support of others but cannot find it (sometimes even in the midst of others). Solitude is a kind of peace and equanimity one finds only when one is alone. The theologian Paul Tillich said, "Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone." 

Solitude is not a ready state of being for us relationship-seeking creatures. It takes practice, wisdom, and courage to develop. There are many techniques and practices therapists use to develop an ability for solitude.  Indeed, it seems that solitude is a fuel for health and healthy relationships and loneliness its opposite.  We are learning that people who seek to control their partner and people who are codependent are anxious at the possibility of being alone.

When you're alone do you experience loneliness or solitude? Winter is a good time to explore. So, cuddle up with a cup of tea; allow yourself to stare out the window and relax. You may be surprised what comes to you.


{Image courtesy of Enis Yavuz.)