There are two sides to every coin. In the era where people are opening up about their struggles with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders, our perception towards being alone is changing rapidly. What in earlier times was thought of as saintly and poetical is nowadays considered as a disease. Although being alone includes both the possibilities, it would be stupid if we label it as one. So, to understand the situation perfectly, it is necessary to understand the difference between solitude and loneliness.
Solitude vs. Loneliness: Three major differences
1. Solitude is voluntary, loneliness is not:
When one reflects on the world ‘solitude’, one often thinks about poets and monks. These people are highly creative and they find a deep satisfaction in their solitude. They stay alone as it connects them to higher power, which, for them is an infinite source of creativity and satisfaction.
Lonely people, on the other hand, are the ones who stay alone, either because they cannot find anyone to talk to, or because they feel very anxious and insecure among the others. Both of these could be the result of some mental health disorder. If you are suffering from such type of loneliness for very long, then it would be better for you to contact some counsellor.
2. Solitude is free from longing, loneliness is full of it:
This is the major difference between solitude and loneliness. If you long for human contact, then you are lonely, if you don’t, then it is solitude. Many people who are doomed to be alone often proclaim that they don’t need anyone in their life. However, if you carefully scrutinize their assertion, it usually means that they want to be with people, but just because of their own incapability or because of the traumas experienced in their past they are unable to do so.
Most of us believe that our loneliness is in fact solitude. But if looking at other couples makes you sad, if you see some movie and deeply wish that your life was like that, then there’s a chance that you might be lonely.
3. Loneliness is a disease, solitude heals:
Many of us need to spend time alone every once in a while to heal ourselves from the psychological wounds that we suffer in our day to day lives. You might be spending that time relaxing, meditating, writing or painting. It is necessary that you give yourself this me-time. It puts you into contact with your deeper self. It is only during times like these that you can ponder over the direction of your life, and plan the future changes that you want in it.
Loneliness in this respect is completely different. While lonely you have an abundance of the precious me-time at hand, but you don’t know what to do with it. You fritter this time away looking at many things but being able to concentrate on none. Browsing unnecessarily through social media, chatting uselessly for hours, and playing video games for very long hours are some signs that you are wasting your time, and you need to come out of your shell.
How to get out of loneliness?
We have mentioned the problem, but it is of no use if you cannot find any solution to it. If you are lonely, and if you know that you are lonely, then it makes the matter worse. You start blaming yourself, and it leads you nowhere. To tackle this, the best thing you can do is once you have realized that you are lonely, you can put in efforts to get out of it. Here are some steps that would definitely be of great help in doing the same:
1. Understanding the type of your loneliness:
You must realize that, for a person, it is impossible to do nothing. Even when sitting still, most of the times, you are thinking about something. So, it is of prime importance to understand what do you do when you are alone. Do you spend the most part of it stalking your ex? Do you watch some web-series on Netflix? Or do you just lie down on the bed and think?
Introspecting and carefully scrutinizing these factors might help you in better understanding your loneliness. It is necessary that you do so. If you started being alone after your breakup, after the loss of your job, or after some other trauma, then maybe you need to look into the matter carefully. Seeing a psychologist or just talking things out with some positive person might help a lot in understanding your situation.
Are you suffering from the hidden loneliness?
In the world where we can find endless things online to entertain us, we often don’t realize how much time we spend alone. Even someone who isn’t meeting anyone and who is spending a large amount of his or her time chatting is alone. Human contact is a necessary part of our evolution, and if we ignore it, then the results of it won’t be good.
2. Make your priorities
If you are doomed to spend your time alone, why don’t you prioritize your time? Having a smartphone and access to internet in itself opens up infinite possibilities for you. The only thing you need to do is declutter your smartphone. Delete all those apps that tend to distract you from what you want to do. Unfollow and unsubscribe all the unnecessary sources that offer you nothing more than memes, entertaining videos or other form of cheap entertainment. Give priority to learning and personal development.
It might sound like the most valuable and the most stupid advice at the same time. It is valuable because you know this is what you need to do. It is stupid because this is the only thing you cannot do. You must understand that the best way to overcome your fear of anxiety is plunging yourself into situations where you have to socialize. You can join some foreign language course or just simply go hiking with a group of strangers. Even if you don’t talk much to the people around you, it is million times better than staying alone at home.
4. Don’t worry
If you are in doubt whether you live in solitude or whether you are lonely, then don’t worry. The people who doubt are usually on the side of solitude, as when you are lonely you know that you are suffering.
Solitude is just an ideal situation where you are alone and experience deep satisfaction from being alone. There are myriad ways to achieve it. The easiest ones probably are opting for wellness activities like mindfulness meditation, Yoga, etc. These would definitely make you realize how beautiful spending your time alone can be.