Being Alone is Not Being Lonely: Is it okay to be comfortable with being alone?

Being Alone is Not Being Lonely: Is it okay to be comfortable with being alone?

By Eric Screven

Many of us may have moments in our lives wherein we are going through a rough emotional patch. It is at times like this that many find it relieving to have the security of camaraderie with another or others like friends and family to offer a nurturing shoulder to cry on; while many others find that in moments of adversity, solitude is best. What works for one may not be helpful to the next. Therefore, it is important to be able to self-reflect, and look inward to analyze what brings you the most comfort in life; that way we’re better prepared for the good and the not-so-good times that we all face at some point in our lives.

This blog is a brief examination of the emotions of loneliness in contrast with the act of being alone. It is an attempt to distinguish the nuances of each to create understanding in those who may question their own mental well-being and/or those of others they may love and keep close.

Being Alone:

Being alone is not necessarily a terrible thing, however, that depends on the circumstances. For example, people who have burned bridges, whether intentionally or unintentionally might find themselves alone. It is probably fair to say that the former of these two circumstances may desire to be alone while the latter may consequently feel lonely as a result of having unintentionally burned the bridge. Therefore, being alone and being lonely are two distinct states that are often confused. To be by oneself, physically separated from others can be a choice, an opportunity for solitude, time for self-reflection, relaxation, or engaging in activities that one enjoys. It can be a time wherein one needs to heal from a traumatic, or draining emotional State. Not all emotional states are bad either. Someone may like to be alone in their thoughts if they happen to be a professional, and a very significant event is coming up. Think about professionals in business who have to give presentations, or the lawyer preparing for the big case, actors, actors, teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, fathers…  everyone has had that moment in their lifetime wherein they needed to be alone with their thoughts. It is natural.  Therefore, being alone doesn’t necessarily equate to feeling lonely; it can be a positive and fulfilling experience. It can be an opportunity to meditate, heal, recharge, and create.

Loneliness is an emotional state characterized by a feeling of emptiness, isolation, and sadness due to a lack of meaningful connections with others.  It is often an unwelcome feeling that arises when one desires social contact and emotional closeness but lacks it.  Loneliness can lead to negative impacts on mental and physical health if prolonged.  Suicide has been linked to loneliness. Over 60% of Americans have reported being lonely according to a survey by Applied Behavioral Analysis. Young adults aged 18 – 22 are reportedly the most common group to experience loneliness. It is also important to mention that at least 30% of Americans are living alone today; furthermore, loneliness is as harmful to your health as “smoking 15 cigarettes a day” according to Mark Elias at  Understanding the difference between being alone and being lonely is crucial for mental well-being. It’s essential to make constructive use of alone time for self-care and introspection while also nurturing meaningful connections to combat feelings of loneliness. That is balance, and balance is essential in all aspects of life.

For anyone who asks: “Is it still okay to be comfortable with being alone?” I say yes, it is perfectly okay and even beneficial to become comfortable with being alone. Being comfortable with solitude allows you to develop a sense of self-reliance, independence, and inner strength. Here are a few reasons why it can be healthy:




1. Self-discovery: Spending time alone provides an opportunity to explore your thoughts, emotions, and interests. It allows you to better understand yourself, your values, and your aspirations. Self-reflection and introspection can lead to personal growth and a deeper self-awareness.

2. Independence and self-reliance: Being comfortable with being alone fosters independence and self-reliance. It enables you to make decisions and take actions based on your own needs and desires, rather than relying on others for validation or direction. This independence can empower you to pursue your goals and dreams confidently.

3. Emotional well-being: Alone time can be essential for mental and emotional well-being. It offers a chance to recharge, relax, and reduce stress. It allows you to engage in activities you enjoy, practice self-care, and cultivate a sense of inner peace and contentment.

4. Boundaries and self-care: Being comfortable with being alone helps you establish and maintain healthy boundaries. It allows you to prioritize your needs and well-being, ensuring you have the time and space for self-care, personal growth, and pursuing your passions.

5. Freedom and flexibility: Embracing solitude grants you the freedom to engage in activities and explore interests at your own pace and preferences. You can pursue hobbies, engage in creative endeavors, or enjoy the freedom of not having to accommodate others’ schedules or expectations.

Again, however, it’s important to maintain a balance. Human connections and social interactions are also crucial for our well-being. It’s beneficial to cultivate a healthy mix of alone time and meaningful connections with others based on your preferences and needs.

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