March 30, 2013

The Beauty of Being Alone. ~ Renee Picard

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.

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Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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Lore_gris Feb 2, 2014 10:10am

"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.

cindy Hill Sep 24, 2013 8:43pm

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 [email protected] 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….

Levette Apr 9, 2013 4:00am

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.

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Renée Picard

Renée Picard is a freelance writer and editor. She prefers real conversation over small talk, red over pink, ocean over mountains. She leads life with a soft-but-fierce heart. For her, writing has always been an instinct, a craft, a heart-thing.

For more, check out her personal blog or her Medium page. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.