Here’s Why You’re Confusing Solitude With Loneliness

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” (Paul Tillich)

Loneliness is much different from solitude and many people confuse the two with each other.

If you like yourself, you have no problem with being alone. When you accept yourself completely, you’ll enjoy having quiet time away from all the external noise. You’ll feel happy when alone and also when surrounded by other people.

Few get this.

Defining Terms

Let’s go through the definition of both loneliness as well as solitude and explore the differences between the two so that we don’t get stuck in a state of confusion:

Loneliness: The state of sadness because one has no friends or company; isolation.

Solitude: The state or situation of being alone.

So, from these two quick definitions, we get a basic idea of the major difference between loneliness and solitude. The major difference between the two states is the way that the individual approaches the topic of being alone mentally.

Picture, you are someone who is struggling with feeling lonely even though you might have people around you. One of the major reasons why you feel lonely in this situation is because of how you think about being alone. There is nothing inherently wrong with being alone. In fact, an argument can be made that you are creating the negative feeling associated with being alone.

Now, picture yourself on the opposite side of the spectrum. You are someone who thoroughly enjoys being alone because it allows you to have space within your life. It allows you to recharge and step away from the craziness of daily life and just bask in the present moment. One of the major reasons why you feel content when you’re alone is because of how you mentally approach the situation. You look forward to being alone and take advantage of the sweet time that is offered to you.

What’s the difference?

The major difference between these two versions of yourself is how you look at being alone. The version of yourself that can’t stand being alone has many limiting beliefs surrounding the topic of being alone while the version of yourself that loves being alone opens up to the experience and allows the present moment to absorb them fully.

The Role Of Different Perspectives

Let’s take a look at how these two versions of yourself differ in terms of how they view the world within the context of alone time.

The Version Of You That Despises Alone Time

Inside the mind of the version of yourself that looks at alone time negatively, you will find that there is a lot of negative self-talk surrounding the topic of being alone. It goes something like this:

“I can’t stand being alone.”

“I feel sad and depressed when I’m alone.”

“I need people around me.”

“I need to be stimulated and distracted in some way.”

“Alone time can’t be enjoyed.”

“Alone time has no impact on my mental health.”

These are just some of the phrases that the version of yourself who dislikes alone time says mentally and following this line of thinking, of course you’ll feel crappy and negatively towards being alone. How can you have a positive mindset or feeling towards alone time if you think about it in a negative light?

The Version Of You That Loves Alone Time

Inside the mind of the version of yourself that looks at alone time positively, you will find that there is a lot of positive and encouraging self-talk surrounding the topic of being alone. It goes something like this:

“I enjoy my time alone.”

“I love being able to take time to re-charge.”

“Alone time is a great investment.”

“I value the present moment.”

“Alone time is an essential need for my mental health.”

“How can alone time not be enjoyed?”

As you can see, this version of you has a much different way of looking at alone time. There aren’t any limiting beliefs about the subject and, in fact, all of the self talk involved is uplifting and encouraging. Now, of course this version of you is going to love being alone because your self talk is conducive to a positive experience in this context.

As we’ve seen in these two hypothetical versions of yourself, your mentality makes all the difference. The way you look at something determines whether you will have a beneficial and positive experience with it or a detrimental and negative experience with it.

The question remains, how can we transition from the version of ourselves that dislikes alone time to the version of ourselves that loves alone time? We will explore this in the next section.

Creating A Love For Alone Time

Creating a joy and love for alone time doesn’t happen over night. It requires patience, humility, and ultimately requires an open mind in order to get to the state where you can thoroughly enjoy your time alone with yourself.

To truly embrace alone time, you must learn to embrace the present moment and the key to getting into the present moment in its raw form is to practice the art of mindfulness.

You must tune in to your senses and view everything in a new light, like a child. Children are always fascinated with the world around them because they carry a sense of wonder with them everywhere they go. They practice the art of mindfulness so perfectly that they lose themselves in the present very often.

Here are a few more things you could do to develop this joy for alone time:

Practice Alone Time

As simple and dumb as it sounds, the only way you’ll develop a joy for being alone is to put yourself in the very situation. Start practicing the art of being alone and notice how you react to the fact that you are alone.

Be Compassionate With Yourself

Stop being so hard on yourself over the fact that you don’t enjoy alone time. This will just stir up the mind even more in a negative way and create a stronger momentum of negativity. Practice the art of compassion with yourself and simply let things go just as you would let a gust of wind go. Do you personalize a gust of wind when it comes about? Of course not! Do the same with your emotions and moods.

Learn Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a great tool to learn to enjoy the present moment. Of course, it won’t be easy at the beginning so keep this in mind and stick with it.

Do Things You Enjoy Doing

This seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow through with the things that they enjoy. Doing things you enjoy will bring you into the present moment and this will develop your skill level when it comes to enjoying alone time. Of course, do the things you enjoy alone as well.

Conclusion

I am intimately familiar with the act of being alone mainly because of my daily mindfulness meditation practice that I’ve had for about 3 or so years now. It has been the biggest game changer when it comes to shifting my world view of being alone.

Now, I absolutely delight in the alone time that I have with myself. Every time I go back to being alone, the inner child comes out and I get to view the world in a whole new perspective, mainly from a feeling and place of wonder. I hope you can experience this powerful feeling on your own journey as well.

As a final thought, I will leave you with the quote that I started this post with because it beautifully encapsulates the difference between loneliness and solitude. Take some time to ponder this quote deeply:

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” (Paul Tillich)

Writer. Autodidact. Competitive Soccer Player.

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