In our hyper-connected world, were constantly communicating with our loved ones, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
We rarely remember to make time for solitary contemplation.
But solitude, a state of mind essential to the development of your thought also prepares you for full participation in social life.
Many intellectuals through the ages ‘have stressed the significance of learning to be alone. Michel de Montaigne once wrote, “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
Solitude encourages imagination and makes serious and abstracted thought possible. It empowers us to contemplate our actions and develop our conscience. If you want to improve your ability to judge in private and to finally hear yourself think, purse solitude with intention.
An inability to stop and think can ruin lives and careers.
Solitude is not the same as loneliness. The pursuit of solitude does not necessarily lead to loneliness: it’s intentional and deliberate. That means you have complete control.
Wayne W. Dyer says, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
Solitude, in contrast to loneliness, is often a positive state of mind you can seek rather than avoid.
Philosophers have long made a careful, and important, distinction between solitude and loneliness. Hannah Arendt, a German-American philosopher, wrote in The Life of the Mind, “Thinking, existentially speaking, is a solitary but not a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about when I am alone without being able to split up into the two-in-one, without being able to keep myself company.”
In total solitude, you never grow lonely or bored. You are never truly alone because you don’t crave companionship.
Many people are afraid of being alone, pursuing relationships to escape themselves. When you’re comfortable in your own company, you can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
The fear of being alone never goes away if you’re not happy to be alone with your own thoughts, no matter how many people you surround yourself with. There’s no point running away from your fears and anxieties because, at some point, they will catch up to you.
Solitude encourages self-reflection and acceptance. Making time for healthy solitude gives you space and time for honest self-assessment.
Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., a licensed counsellor and professor at Northern Illinois University, explains; “Self-reflection also helps you reconnect with the person you are (or were) when you show up in relationships. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Am I someone that I’d want to be with?” If not, maybe you should. Recognizing the aspects of yourself that get in the way of your relationships with others — and yourself — is the first step to removing them.”
Once you have gone through the process of knowing yourself better when you’re alone, you’ll feel the gravity of welcoming people into your life — and being happy with them, with or without their company.
You will be able to inspire, encourage, motivate, and enjoy each other, despite your vulnerabilities. Once you learn to be at peace in solitude, you will be happy in the company of friends, lovers, and strangers. When you love spending time with yourself, you tend to give space wherever you go.
Making time to be alone is not about avoiding relationships, but it’s about the consistent effort to better mentally, socially, emotionally for ourselves and our loved ones.
People who are unhappy with themselves often think that being in a relationship will boost their self-esteem and confidence. The truth is, your self-worth is up to you.
You are responsible for your own happiness. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love someone else. Love starts with a healthy relationship with yourself.
Instead of working on finding the right people to make you happy, spend some time alone and work on being the right person. Happy and mentally healthy people radiate confidence and attract others with similar traits.
In solitude, you learn what you love and hate. You get to know yourself better. You make your judgements and take actions in the direction of your dreams. You become the best version of yourself. You don’t need someone else to do this for you. The good news is, this process makes you stronger and prepares you for better relationships at home and at work.
A daily reflective walk is a healthy habit that encourages solitude. You don’t have to log a mile to make the most of it. Just 10 minutes of reflective walking helps you think about your thinking.
You can also make the most of the beginning or end of your workday. You can wake up a little earlier, get to work earlier than usual or stay a little late to spend some time alone to ponder over your life and career and where it’s headed. You can even take that opportunity to put your thoughts in a journal.
You can use your commute or breaks to catch up with yourself and reflect on where you’re going in life and what’s the best “next step” to get you there.
When you give yourself the opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with yourself, you’re also giving yourself a self-esteem boost — confidence which can take your relationships with others to another level.
Your relationships with others take a whole different level of significance when you have experienced how to be alone. Healthy solitude can help you make sense of your place in the world.
Originally published on Medium.
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