Loneliness vs Aloneness in times of COVID-19 and beyond

Aloneness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting. It is a force into isolation when you are not understood or isolated in your circumstances. It is a state of mind. The central theme of Philia’s global discussion in May 2020 was Loneliness vs Aloneness – In times of COVID-19 and beyond. 

Philia communities host meetups all around the world in Lisbon, Dubai, Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, and Kabul. Last month, we discussed the difference between being alone and feeling lonely, the factors that deplete energy or give energy, also positive ways of being with yourself. Despite the presence of people around you, you can still be accompanied by aloneness while, at the same time, one person could physically be alone and not feel alone. Aloneness is a status, loneliness is a feeling. While both refer to a solitary state, being alone doesn’t equate to feeling lonely, neither does feeling lonely equate to being alone. Both terms in their essence are two different terms, sometimes one being the solution for the other. Loneliness could be used as a solution to soothe solitude and aloneness by engaging yourself in invaluable new activities. Philia came up with few insightful activities with which one could make wonderful use of loneliness:

Find out the underlying reasons

Aloneness/ loneliness can stem from shading away our identities. When we try to fit into contexts and not be ourselves solely but be what our family, society, and culture want us to be, we start to feel alone and drained. Aloneness could be caused by a lack of meaningful connections. When we have authentic experiences while interacting, it makes us feel connected with someone in a deeper, more meaningful way. However, when we experience unauthentic moments, we are unable to identify and relate to another person, which makes us feel isolated and lonely. There could be several other reasons why we feel alone; we need to find out the reason to be able to help ourselves. 

Get acquainted with yourself

We spend so much time and invest energy to discover and know others but we never give ‘ourselves’ the privilege. You need to know ‘you’ in order to love you and to serve you while being mindful of your emotions and values. The absence of people around might be scary as we are social beings. However, loneliness could be an opportunity for you to self-search and get to know you, to learn who you are, to grow. It could be synonymous with being empowered. It could be a change for personal growth as it is a good time to face yourself. 

Reflect on yourself

Loneliness is a conscious choice to be alone and reflect on yourself and nature. You need to be lonely to get clear on what your goals are and what you want for yourself. You need your space sometimes to think about what you have been doing every day, even when the days are too busy or going too fast, to pause and reflect on ourselves. 

Chose to connect with yourself

Aloneness is painful while desired solitude feels peaceful as it allows you to connect with yourself and helps you recenter, particularly at the time of a crisis like the COVID-19. We live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves. Feeling disconnected is part of our human learning experience. In societies that are driven by achieving, keeping busy, and chasing after financial or social goals, we often forget about ourselves. As we are required to put up and deal with people such as customers, business partners, colleagues, classmates, friends, we give so much of our energy to them. The energy is drained at times and you would need to surround yourself with YOU only for your emotional and mental health and to recharge before reconnecting with the virtual or real world again.

Go on a date with yourself

You need a little date with yourself every once in a while. As you are scheduling appointments with other people, you similarly need to meet yourself – consciously make time away from the hectic lifestyle, from your computer or your phone to do something for yourself – as sitting on the balcony with a soothing face mask, dancing all by yourself to your favorite songs, cooking and listening to a podcast, going for a run at the beach or through a park you haven’t been in before.

Love requires Self-love and Self-love is built-in loneliness

Loneliness is an opportunity to focus on yourself and acknowledge your emotions, needs, and wants. It is a choice to focus and invest in yourself. It is an act of self-care. It is a great way of being mindful of yourself and only then you can be mindful of others. Indeed, once you accept and love who you are, once you feel comfortable in your skin and learn to live in peace with yourself, you learn to live with others without using them as a means for your end. Loneliness helps you acknowledge and appreciate meaningful connections more once you create them, without it, you can’t understand the importance of forming meaningful bonds.

Stay on the safe side of Connecting

Totally isolating yourself for long periods of time isn’t healthy, while connecting with others could make you feel alone as aloneness could be dependent on how you are treated by your surroundings. In essence, you have to know with whom to surround yourself to stay on the safe side of socializing. You would need to stay away from people who deplete your energy. Instead, you need to focus on creating healthy bonds and surround yourself with people who are mindful of who you are. With people who are trustworthy so you can share your fears or concerns in regards to connecting with them without any hesitation. With people who acknowledge and respect your standards, limits, and values; so you can have genuine connections and not feel alone.   

Loneliness needs to be balanced

However, it is necessary to have a balance between ‘me time’ and socializing. During the current crisis and quarantine, some people at home with their families will probably find it hard to find a balance between their own personal time and the time for the family, and sometimes that could end up them losing themselves. Other people who are quarantined alone also feel bad because they are alone and crave human connection. It could relate to the personality traits of being an extrovert or introvert. However, human beings are indeed more complicated than some basic categories might suggest. We might be different in different situations, with different people at different times. You could be an extrovert while being an introvert. Sometimes you would need others to uplift you, inspire you, and help you find you or bring you out of a crisis. In essence, we are social creatures, besides connecting to ourselves we need to connect, socialize, and relate to others but there has to be a balance and acknowledgement of when to give yourself space. When and how are essential.

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