Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

How Learning The Art of Solitude Can Cure Your Fear Of Being Alone

Photo: Photo by Toni Hukkanen on Unsplash
fear of being alone
Self

How to do "alone time" right.

There are moments — we’ve all had them — when the only way to maintain sanity is to disconnect from the world.  

You know the times when your head is going to blow up if the phone rings one more time, or if one more person needs something? Those times when your head is buzzing and your ears are ringing with too much to do?

These are the moments when the cabin in the woods or the dark, quiet room calls out to you. And here's why it would be good to heed the call of solitude.

Let’s get clear: Solitude does not mean retiring to a cave to live with bats or cutting off your phone service, although those ideas might be appealing if you wait too long! The truth is that our neurology needs quiet and solitude. It is the way we recover and stay healthy. That is why hospitals tend to be quiet.

Recognizing the moment you need some peace and actually seeking the solitude you need are two different things.

That's because, for many, the idea of pursuing alone time is scary. It requires being alone. Yikes!  

Most people have a fear of being alone. They do not understand that psychically they NEED it, plus they do not fully understand the treasures to be found in spending time with yourself. You might find out that you are quite companionable.

But finding time for solitude is important. 

We live in an over-stimulated world. Each person has three or more devices, each one ringing or chirping or, in some way, demanding a response. When we aren’t talking or texting or reading, there are the other distractions — television, Play Station, YouTube — you name it!  

Bottom line: Your nervous system can’t take it.  

After a while, you start twitching, shaking, and scratching because you don’t know what to do with all the crazy energy coming at you. These are signs that you need solitude, and you need to take them seriously.

Take Diane, for instance. Diane is a nice, normal lady who goes off to work at a busy office where the phones are ringing all day, people who need this and that, tasks to complete, tempers to soothe, and paperwork to file.

From there Diane hops in her car, picks up her kids from after-school care, where they are often over stimulated, tired, hungry, or cranky. She arrives home to cook dinner, water the plants, do the laundry, answer the mail, pay the bills, and spend quality time with her family — which includes helping with homework, correcting, admonishing, instructing, drying tears, and kissing and hugging and bed time.  

And who knows what else she does before collapsing in bed for a few hours to start all over the next day!

But the thing Diane doesn’t do, the thing that is at the very bottom of her “to-do” list, is to give herself quality time by herself to read a book, take a walk, meditate, or just sit and stare. So, you get the point. Diane NEEDS QUIET TIME and so do you! 

We think that being focused in the material world with all its noise and chaos is the place to be.

Our subconscious tells us, “I am bored. I need noise, distraction, and stimulus.” But that is not true.

The constantly-stimulated mind becomes agitated. When your focus is always out there where drama after drama unfolds, the only way to find balance is to turn everything off and focus within to the stillness.

The idea of leaving the world, even for an hour, frightens the ego, because the ego craves drama. (For proof, consider all the police and political dramas on television these days.) Thus you develop a fear of solitude.

Here are a few examples of  "ego messages" that keep you uptight:

“What is wrong with you? You are alone. You must be unloved and unlovable. This proves that no one wants to be with you. You are a loser.”  

Recognize them?

These are reasons people avoid solitude.     

This ego babble is how we become convinced that being alone is dangerous. You're afraid you might miss out on something. Yes, you might miss something if you take some time away — and it will probably be a nervous breakdown! 

The issue is that we have constructed an identity — a false one — that is dependent on the material world.  

It starts with your name, then your circumstances. You call yourself a male or female, an American, Indian, European or South Sea Islander, or some locational signature. 

You also identify all sorts of material conditioning such as tall/short, blonde, grey, or redheaded and various religious ethnicities — Hindu, Jew, Muslim, to name a few. These are external distinctions and designed to fool you into believing that this physical being is who you are.  

The whole identity fiasco will be the boss of you until you go deeper into your psyche and gift yourself the adventure of aloneness.

Our first inclination when spending time alone is to get busy. Do something. Why?  

Because you don’t now how to be with yourself and you are running from the unknown. Do something quick; don’t just be! Wash windows, clean something, sort papers, make phone calls.  

The mind is indoctrinated with busy-ness, and freaks out when asked to be still. It can even become depressed when not busy: “You are useless, a bum, lazy, good for nothing, blah, blah, blah.”  

These are fear thoughts that are conjured from old programs planted in your subconscious mind from long ago. They relate to some past identity you have taken on that now rules you.

As you calm down and get grounded, you will get past the ego and all its lies.  

Now it is time to enter the natural world. Nature is still and rhythmic and primarily peaceful. Go into nature as Jesus or Buddha went to the mountain, the desert, or the Bodhi tree.

Go where there is emptiness. That is how you can release stress and noise and rest your mind. Stay for an hour or linger longer. Stay until your mind quiets and then stay longer. Remain until your body relaxes and begins to breathe and then stay even longer.  

Now you are beginning to experience your inner world.  It is in rhythm with nature.

In our Western world achieving stillness is monumental. Not so much in Eastern countries where silence is cultivated. Just grant yourself permission and put solitude on your calendar. In time you will get the hang of it and it will nourish you — even heal you.  

Remain in solitude until you have forgotten all the roles you play and the ways you clothe yourself with identity.  Stay until you become empty. This is peace.

Loneliness is not the same as solitude or aloneness. Loneliness is always questing after something.  It is painful and demoralizing. It is the feeling of never being or having enough. 

When you cultivate aloneness, you are at peace.  

It is like dropping all the makings of the world and listening deeply, but you cannot do that without creating the space for yourself to truly listen.

If you knew that there was something out there trying to speak to you, but very quietly, what would you do? You'd have to ask yourself, "Have I created the inner space for it? Have I opened my heart to receive it?" It doesn't have to be a spiritual or even metaphysical "voice". It can be your own intuition or wisdom or it could be all of those things.

Take time to practice. It will put everything in perspective because when you are alone, nothing else exists.

It is like the contentment of the womb. Everything is provided, and you are safe and nourished. 

As you get stronger, the craziness of the world dissolves and what remains is YOU — vast and still like the forest at dusk or a clear, calm mountain lake. 

It's worth the effort!

 

Jean Walters is a Transformational Coach specializing in empowermentShe teaches and lectures at universities, businesses, and organizations. Walters has written eight books, including: Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU were meant to Live; Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible - Others have and you can too; and Dreams and the Symbology of Life. She can be reached at jean@spiritualtransformation.com.

 

Author
Expert

Expert advice

If you can recognize this pattern, you can handle your favorite narcissist more effectively.
Are you still single and you don't why?
You constantly feel like you're walking on eggshells.