Alone VS Lonely
Living on my own after my divorce was probably the most difficult adjustment I had to make. I was used to having my family around me and having someone to talk to in the morning and evening. It was also nice to cook and eat meals together. I loved going on hikes and walking in the neighborhood. All of that changed after the divorce and I found myself not only alone, but also struggling with loneliness.
At times I felt so lonely inside that I could feel physical pain as well as the emotional pain. I looked up books and articles to read so I could learn how to overcome feeling so lonely. The information I discovered completely transformed the way I view being alone versus feeling lonely and helped me to embrace my new life as a single person.
The definitions of alone and lonely are very different.
Being alone . . . this IS a condition or a state of being. It is a fact. You are either alone or you are with people, hence not alone. Stating your condition simply just identifies that fact.
Feeling lonely . . . this IS a feeling or an emotional state. It can also be a fact. You are either feeling lonely or you are not. Stating how you feel helps to recognize how you are emotionally.
Because I had merged “being alone with loneliness” in my mind, I thought the two concepts were joined together. Hence, if I was alone, I automatically felt lonely and if I felt lonely, it was because I was alone. But this is not true, and I had to unlink my feeling of loneliness from my living situation of being alone.
Loneliness is an interesting emotion.
Loneliness is a feeling or an emotion that we all experience at different times of our life. It is a feeling just like happiness, anger, excitement, joy, or sadness. The interesting thing about feelings is how often they change. Some feelings change rather quickly especially if we started thinking differently. Some feelings simply pass over us after a while. Most importantly, feelings are not permanent.
The other interesting thing about loneliness is that this emotion or feeling can be experienced when you are in a crowd of people, when you are at a family gathering, when you are with your friends, or when you are by yourself. It is not determined by how many people are around you at the time. A person can be in a crowd and feel lonely or a person can be alone and not feel lonely.
Being alone can be an enjoyable experience.
Being alone is not an emotion or a feeling. It just states a fact. It does not mean that loneliness must be experienced at the same time. Of course, there are times I do feel lonely, but there were also many times I felt lonely when I was married too.
When I do not want to be alone, I invite a friend over. Sometimes I have lunch with my sisters. I make plans and keep my calendar full of activities that I enjoy. In fact, my life has become more intentional and meaningful because I plan things with so many people.
Embrace your life.
Once I accepted my new living status of being alone, I decided to choose happiness over feeling loneliness. I took all this new way of thinking and decided to reframe how I felt about being alone. I decided that I was going to be happy as a single person and make my life everything I wanted it to be. I fill my days doing things I love doing and I have fun all on my own. Now, I actually enjoy my time alone and do not feel lonely very often.
Loneliness is just a feeling. It is not something to be conquered so that we never have to feel it again. It comes and goes just like sadness, happiness, or anger. Loneliness will come around occasionally. Try to recognize it and say, “there you are again.” Then call a friend, watch a movie, and wait for it to pass.
Featured photo by Diaga Ellaby on Unsplash.