The Beauty of Being Alone. ~ Renee Picard

Via on Mar 30, 2013

lonely-woman-on-a-bench

Sometimes, when I’m by myself, my mind reaches back into some other time when I felt safe, secure companionship from a relationship that ended not so long ago.

My brain automatically, instantaneously classifies that past time as good—or safe, secure, comfortable. And classifies now as bad—or lonely, unsafe, lacking meaning.

It all happens so fast that I don’t even know it. And, suddenly, I feel lonely.

As an only child, a natural introvert, an HSP, or highly sensitive person, and someone who has not had many long-term relationships, I’ve spent many moments by myself in this life. By now, I should have so much practice that I’m really great with it.

The thing is, though, I’m not always okay with it.

The video below, How To Be Alone, by poet Tanya Davis, offers us a glimpse of just how great being alone can be. Take a look.

Sometimes it’s easy to see the beauty of alone. Sometimes it takes some practice. It is always important to be aware of your solitude, to practice being okay, to practice play.

And some days are better than others.

But, the times that you have to really focus on your aloneness are those times when you start sinking into loneliness without realizing it, when it sneaks up on you like a disease. When it starts to creep in without you barely noticing, then all of a sudden you’re lying in a pile on your bedroom floor (which is perfectly OK, by the way) for no real reason.

Or, maybe you have anxiety attacks, but only when you are alone.

Does your own company, your own mind, really have to cause you that much grief?

For me, today, right now, I’ve resolved to not go there. I’m not able to spend money (I’ve resolved to never again use the term broke, because that implies that something is broken, a vessel empty, but that is a whole other blog entry). I’m OK alone, in my somewhat messy little cheap apartment, in the middle of a rainy-day-gray-Vancouver-Sunday.

I could (as I have many times), allow myself get gray or feel lonely, but I’m practicing not to.

My brain (society) is so deeply conditioned to believe that alone = bad. Even with all the new-agey hype about the concept of making friends with solitude, that habitual thought pattern is still engrained in my brain.

But in reality, this moment of alone is just as good as any other. Or, if we want to get all Buddhist about it, it’s neither good or bad. It just is.

Today I made one promise to myself, a promise that I boldly proclaim to the world (or at least my small blogger audience, and a few friends):

I will not equate being alone with sadness.

I mentioned earlier that I’m an HSP, which means I’m a very sensitive person, swayed easily by the energy of others. I’m learning to do this in only the most positive ways, to let others lift me up and to use my influence to help others, even when all that this entails is listening well.

It’s taking time to learn.

But as an introvert, I find I need time alone to recharge. I need time alone to just be and not have to navigate through so much external energy. It can be exhausting.

In fact, when I’m around my most energetic, interesting, intelligent and wonderful friends, sometimes I find myself most exhausted. It does not mean I don’t want to be around them, it just means that I want to absorb everything they say and do, and when I can’t, I don’t feel quite so devoted.

I want to be fully engaged and connected to those who I know and love. And when ideas are bouncing back and forth and conversations and ideas flowing, it’s so overwhelming! Wonderfully overwhelming. But, I need time to sit back and process after those times.

Alone is fine.

In fact it’s great, because here, there is no one to energetically sway me. I can’t hide here, but I can go here to recharge, to refuel. It is such a blessing, really.

So, why not try it? If you are alone, be strong and bold in your aloneness. Don’t wish for something else, just be in this time you have now. Get used to your own company. Do your thing.

You can view it as making friends with solitude or just being. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

Like elephant journal on Facebook

 

~

Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Renee Picard

Renée Picard is an editor and columnist at elephant journal. A grounded creative, her words often spill out in cheap breakfast joints and via coffee shop thought streams. She prefers real conversation over small talk, red over pink, ocean over mountains. She likes roaming the oceanside in the morning, taking photos of beach things. She tries to lead life with intuition and a soft (but fierce) heart. A core mission in her life is to offer and hold safe spaces for others to express themselves authentically via writing or other creative means. For her, writing is an instinct, craft, a heart-thing. Find more of it at her blog, connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

14,407 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal - but don't worry - you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Partners

190x1902-EJ-clothing

28 Responses to “The Beauty of Being Alone. ~ Renee Picard”

  1. Barbra Brady says:

    Renee, your words: "As an only child, a natural introvert, an HSP, or highly sensitive person, and someone who has not had many long-term relationships, I’ve spent many moments by myself in this life" could well be my own… … being alone feels like a wide open, amazing, beautiful place/way to be…a vast expanse of self living unencumbered… it (no longer) occurs to me that being alone is in any way "less than." It is an extraordinary place/way to be–very, very much a blessing. For me the challenge can be taking that same sensibility into the space I share with others when I am *not* alone. Thank you– finding the power of being an HSP introvert can be a huge challenge– (I am reading Susan Cain's book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," highly recommended… in seeing the hugeness of aloneness!

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Funny thing about writing a post like this…we find out just how not alone we are in feeling these things. I definitely have good days and bad with the alone thing…writing definitely helps.

      I am also reading that book and I find it very empowering and refreshing. I really think that her work will change the world for us.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your comment! Hope you have a great Easter Weekend.

  2. Martha says:

    Renee. I found this piece one of the best and most helpful things I have read on Elephant and also did not find any typos !! thanks for being such a good writer. I have to tell you this, I followed all the links and read all the articles and watched that amazing video that you included ( btw did you have to get permission to use that ? just wondering ) and I learned so much. I have not ever heard the term HSP before and have always struggled with being affected by the energy of people around me but have been always a bit outside the action always and felt not exactly shy but always overly thoughtful and have a hard time with that sometimes….and now I have been totally alone for over a year. Which is very difficult and some of the things that you have said here resounded strongly with me. I am starting a new life and also hoping to inspire others who have either elected or by circumstance begun a new life after mid-life. thanks again Renee. We are all connected even though it does not feel that way at about ten pm .

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Hi Martha – good to know that there are people checking for typos! And thanks so much for checking this out. I'm glad it helped you. Take good care of yourself!

  3. Sara says:

    Ironic that though we feel alone, we are surrounded by others in the same situation. I love people but need a respite at the end of the day, just as you described. I grew up in a family of loners so always pushed myself to move outside my comfort zone attempting to change that model.
    I have come to recognize that my aloneness is often a choice: I chose to get divorced, I choose whether to retire at night with a good book or to call a friend. And I choose to accept invitations whenever possible. I choose to avoid the maudlin & the romanticism of melancholy, recognizing the unhealthiness of that side of being alone. Or I wallow in it for the length of a movie or book guaranteed to knock it out of my system, and move on!
    PS Saw that poem posted before: made me want to meet the poet!
    PPS I used to live in Bellingham, WA. The weather out there can certainly contribute to the loneliness side; best wishes for your balancing act.

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Hi Sara,

      I completely understand where you are coming from, and I really like what you have to say about these choices that you have made. I also like how you talk about using a book or movie to get you throw 'wallowing'. One of the hardest things for me is redirecting my brain to focus on a book or something stimulating so that I'm not in that mindset – it takes practice! And yes, the grey Vancouver weather definitely doesn't help!

      Thanks for the support & take care.

  4. Karma Kittyn says:

    I have never felt lonelier than being in a room where I know no one and everyone is with someone or with a crowd of friends. I went to a neighborhood bar and was very, very lonely.

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Hi Karma – I know how this feels too. I think that not focussing on the feeling of lonely is key to stepping away from this, but it can be difficult and take some practice. Take care of yourself!

  5. jasper says:

    I am always refreshed by meeting another introvert that embraces her/his introversion. As a minority of the American population, we need to cheer each other on. My first marriage was with an extrovert. The extrovert/introvert tension was not the main problem with the marriage, but the experience did cause me to seek an introvert for my next partner. We have time together, but we also have lots of time apart which works really well for me.

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Hi Jasper,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I have found that I really resonate with extroverts as they bring me energy and help me to get out of my shell. I feel like there is more of a balance, in a way, with these dynamics. But, it's true that it can get exhausting especially if the other person/people around you don't understand that you need 'recharge' time.

      Cheers!

  6. Barbra Brady says:

    As a yoga teacher it is an interesting practice "full of material" to be profoundly HSP, and deeply introverted. Yoga is about connection, and of course it is important to be connected to oneself thoroughly–I've got decades of practice there–being as fully connected to ours as I am my own interior is a constant practice. I *do* feel deeply connected to ours, especially students, but have realized that at times others don't read that *from* me. I feel that I am completely open and connecting, but can tell sometimes people are not "receiving" it. And I used to be an actor, I know about projecting to others! Possibly this is a way in which introverts are often read as "aloof" by others? I just know it is a huge challenge, and I try with all my might, but sometimes fall short–even when it is my deepest intention. Karma, I'd be interested to hear more about your feeling loneliest when in a room with others you don't know–how you cope with that when it happens?

  7. Rajni Tripathi says:

    Beautiful & insanely true. Being alone does not equate to something negative. It's all about perspective & knowing that you, ur self, deserve your love & compassion & joy! Rock it sista!

  8. Cheryl Sorensen says:

    After being with someone for ten years, my fiancee' has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is now living in an Assisted Living Facility. We would call each other several times a day and always be together on the weekends and twice a year we would take wonderful vacations together and do things I'd never thought I would do (hot-air balloon riding, going on cruises, traveling to Europe, traveling from San Francisco to Seattle by car along the west coast). He was a wonderful man and now he is just not there any more. Starting over again at 63 isn't easy but I've always been somewhat of an introvert and valued my 'alone' time, and I've become a watercolor artist, something that you have to do alone and something I've always wanted to do. That helps. I realize I need to change my mindset from being 'lonesome' to being 'in solitude'. I also need to reach out to people, which isn't always easy for me. This article has helped me in this process of redefining my life.

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can't imagine how painful this would be and I feel honoured that this article may help you.

      Good for you for taking up the painting. Having a regular (creative) hobby gives one a sense of purpose for sure. I find I tend to sort of hole up and not talk to anyone for days sometimes and I kind of go crazy. I hope that you have/find a good support network to get you through. And take some extra time out to pamper yourself, too.

      Renee

  9. Barbra Brady says:

    This may sound too far around the bend (the back of beyond?!) but: I have styled wonderful "dates" with myself–for example, shop in a local, lovely market, come home, listen to favorite music while preparing a meal, complete with appetizers..using my best dinnerware…often done as a indoor picnic on the floor with a fave movie playing, or music again..romancing one's inner Self, and knowing *precisely* what delights her most…

  10. google says:

    Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Thanks for your time!

  11. Chris Fici Chris Fici says:

    Thanks Renee!
    Introvert Pride!

  12. Renee says:

    This was such a wonderful way for me to begin my day. I related to Every. Single. Word. Thank you.

  13. Rayna says:

    This was lovely to read, and rang not only true but open & honest. Sometimes I like to practice being alone while out and about in social arenas, like coffee shops. I find similar folks there who also enjoy their ‘me’ time, but are open to spontaneous conversation. It’s like taking baby steps to full-fledged alone time!

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      I love it when I feel weird about going into a restaurant or coffee shop alone, then I'm pleasantly surprised when I notice how many other people are by themselves! I have a few spots in particular that I know I feel better about going to by myself because of this. And being open to spontaneous conversations can only add to the experience!

  14. Levette says:

    I absolutely relate to this blog post. Always good to know there are others in the world with a mindset similar to my own. Thank you for posting this article.

    • Renee Picard smallgrl says:

      Thank you for reading! I am pleasantly surprised and touched by how many people have read and enjoyed it so far. I never thought it would reach so many people but the fact that it has makes me very happy.

  15. cindy Hill says:

    I am painfully lonely even with people across the breakfast table from me. I feel unheard and unloved and I write thousands of pages on my blogs just for the moment that someone like me or not like me hears me and wants to be heard by me. I talk to [people in the grocery store and at the bus stop and its not even chit chat. I tell them what i think of them that their hair is shiney in the morning sun I look at what their reading and rejoice that I love the book. I love books like friends. I am very strange to some people and they tell their kids not to look at me (OK i made that up) I feel like that though I wonder if I just start screaming or take off all my clothes how they would see me I have done those things just for fun and that kind of self expression lands a lonely girl in Jail and they as a rule are really uncool about your waving your freak flag high/ freak flags are just volcanoe blasts I would much rather laugh at the same funny shit on the street and some body laugh with me just there in that instant life is fucking funny. Yes i can laugh alone but its like looking at a sunset alone.. its just better shared even with an infant. lonliness hurts. so if anyone reads this comment and feels lonely my email is cindyhill8@live.com and no I am not fat and ugly with acne all over my face. but if i was it would make me more beautiful to myself….

  16. Lore_gris says:

    "Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo wrote a book about loneliness, about how the need for social connection is so fundamental in humans that without it we fall apart, down to the cellular level. Over time blood pressure climbs and gene expression falters. Cognition dulls; immune systems deteriorate. Aging accelerates under the constant, corrosive presence of stress hormones. Loneliness, Cacioppo argued, isn’t some personality defect or sign of weakness—it’s a survival impulse like hunger or thirst, a trigger pushing us toward the nourishment of human companionship. Furthermore, he wrote, “people who get stuck in loneliness have not done anything wrong. None of us is immune to feelings of isolation, any more than we are immune to feelings of hunger or physical pain.” – http://magazine.uchicago.edu/1012/features/the-na

    It's normal and human to feel bad when we are alone. No need to chastise yourself for it. I think the Buddhist thought, that this moment just is, is helpful. Also, when you start to feel down about being alone – remember, "Yeah, being alone is really hard, and this is my body's normal healthy reaction to it. I won't always be alone, so this feeling I'm feeling, I accept that I'm feeling it and understand it is only temporary. I'm being really brave by being alone right now." Self-compassion is the key.

Leave a Reply