Have you ever wanted to just go away to some place or time to be at peace with yourself or have you allowed your alone time to be replaced with quenching feelings of hurt and anguish? Being alone has often been misconstrued as being lonely and vice versa. Although they might represent similar emotions, there are distinct differences between the two.
These binaries show how Alone and Lonely are not synonymous:
Sense of solitude/Sense of isolation
Just like we connect to friends, family and other people in our everyday lives, there are moments when spending time with our own self-helps us to connect with our soul. If one feels comfortable in one’s own space and accept the true essence of oneself as a person, they find freedom in solitude. In other words, being alone is a sense of solitude by choice.
On the other hand, there are times when one might feel isolated due to external factors such as unachieved needs and expectations, social exclusion, lack of reciprocal relationships, discrimination etc. It may be a sign that they are not just physically alone, but emotionally lonely as well.
Emotional Expression/Emotional Restriction
A person who prefers a quiet, serene and hassle-free environment and chooses to be alone, tends to express a variety of neutral, positive and negative emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, jealousy. These persons accept their innermost feelings and impulses and look for healthy ways to express them.
Those who restrict their emotions feel overwhelmed. Many persons experience feelings of loneliness when they do not find an appropriate outlet to express their emotions. For instance, those who feel lonely often cry to themselves as they feel there is nobody to care for them.
Persons who are comfortable with being alone are more in control and acceptance of their thoughts and feelings. Once we start loving ourselves for who we are, we no longer fear the idea of being alone.
Loneliness, however, is accompanied by blaming oneself or others. Some might struggle to think realistically and accept their isolation. In other words, they not only feel disconnected from others but themselves too.
Being alone is a way to re-engage in pleasurable and solitary activities to understand oneself better. It provides an opportunity to feel calm, focused and at peace.
Loneliness steps from the chaos that lies within. It occurs when one feels restless, agitated and upset and deliberately finds distractions in their surroundings to escape their situation.
Being alone gives one a sense of independence. Those who find comfort and have trust in their own capacities, they derive happiness from their own self.
On the other hand, people who experience feelings of loneliness often depend on others for deriving happiness. They tend to seek social validation and if they think that their feelings are not accepted or recognized, they feel lost.
It is not necessary that people belong to the two polarities, each representing sides of the same coin. Most of us, through our life, tend to juggle between being alone and being lonely. It is important to know when the two lines are being crossed.