Solitude

Solitude gets a bad rap in Western culture. It is odd that the word has such a negative connotation, given that time and time again, data points out myriad benefits for a little alone time. Could we possibly be too frightened to be alone that we never even allow ourselves that blissful state of silence where we might possibly have to be with our own thought – even for a split second? Perhaps we confuse being alone with being lonely. Perhaps we are frightened to allow our unconscious thoughts and feelings to penetrate our awareness—the kind of awareness that often comes from sufficient solitude.

In the most current issue of Psychology Today, comedian, TV and podcast host W. Kamau Bell shared his personal experience of the impact and importance of having alone time. Bell explained that when he practices solitude, he has the chance to be with his own thoughts, which allows creativity to flow unimpeded. Additionally, Bell stated that securing alone time is not always easy, especially when it means choosing alone time over spending time with one’s family.

It isn’t only important to give yourself alone time for your thoughts, but also it is important to give yourself time to explore and learn alone. Solitude gives us a chance to really assess our abilities – without anyone around, you must do it yourself. Learning opportunities abound when one cannot hide behind another person. Essentially, alone time helps gain self-confidence. How does one know one can fend for oneself when one has never done anything without someone there to guide, correct, edit?

Another important benefit to solitude is that one need not worry about the wants of someone else. When you are alone – at that moment in time – you needn’t worry about anyone else’s feelings or needs. It could be rather anxiety relieving, as explained by travel blogger Kate McCulley, who has opted to travel the world, you guessed it, alone.

It is time we reconnect with ourselves. As hard as it may be, in an age we live in where technology is at the tips of our fingers and the second we feel alone for any reason we jump to Facebook and scroll through the news feed, we must resist.

Alone time is not a choice – it is a natural process. Psychologist and author Randy J. Patterson describes the process: “Imagine that you are agitating the surface of a pond, and then you stop. It takes a little time before the surface settles down and becomes clear and still… It also takes a little while for the mind to settle to the point where you can actually develop ideas.”

For more Information:

Psychology Today April 2017

 

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