Loneliness and aloneness can be both positive and negative.
Loneliness is unhealthy when “involves a yearning to be with, yet a frustrated movement toward others. We try to reach out to people, but our reach falls short… Lonely people feel the presence of other people more in their absence than in their presence” (Kraft, 2000, p.35). Aloneness is different. “Aloneness can be physical or psychological, or both. We can withdraw from people so that we are physically by ourselves but psychologically with people - that is, not psychologically alone (healthy version). On the other hand, while in a crowd, we can feel alone. And we can be both physically and psychological alone” teaches Kraft (2000, p.40).
During holiday season is not easy for a lot of people. In some ways, I could assume that everyone feels a little nostalgic about the fact another 12 months have gone - at least I do. It is a glimpse of a grieving process for some, and for others can be really difficult and painful. While some are ‘enjoying this time with family and friends’, others are alone and feeling lonely thinking with themselves that nobody cares for them.
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Felipe Oliveira provides counselling for men facing loneliness issues. Click here to know more about his work . Or, please, continue reading about loneliness, aloneness and the gift of solitude.
In another article, I described what existential loneliness and anxiety loneliness are. While the former leads us to the Authentic Self, the later drag us down leaving us terrorised of being abandoned. What I am noticing is that both, aloneness and loneliness, have the power to invite one to stand firm on his skin and become stronger. While loneliness deals with the fear of being without anyone else, and aloneness challenges us to be with ourselves comfortably (not necessarily needing to be with people), both guide us to the gift of Solitude - which could be the prime point of the holiday season.
Grow in Responsibility and Freedom
According to Kraft, healthy aloneness and loneliness “help us grow in responsibility and freedom. It is often appropriate to exit a situation to be alone to think, rest, and recollect ourselves. The most important form of such aloneness is solitude - when we choose to be alone physically for health reasons, such as study, thinking, enjoyment, listening, self-exploration, meditation, recollection, contemplation, or just being.
The silence and serenity of solitude are conducive to being. In solitude, we are less polluted and distracted by noise, busyness, and thinking, and we are more apt to be open. Solitude is basically a nonthinking time when we take a creative pause to listen, to recollect, and to go deeper into life. In solitude, we can be purely present to, listen to, and ponder our experiences, and thereby deepen our encounter with self and others. The zenith of solitude is contemplation - a pure communion with reality” (Kraft, 2000, p. 41).
Kraft, W.F., 2000. Ways of the Desert: Becoming holy through difficult times. New York: Haworth.
Now that you have a brief idea of aloneness, loneliness and the gift of solitude, enjoy the holiday season with your Self, with other people, and with Nature. The holiday season put a lot of pressure on everyone to spend time with family and a bunch of friends every day during 30 to 60 days (December and January). It is the fruit of the Capitalism and Consumerism System and its traps. Once you understand that you can be comfortable alone and enjoy your own Presence, then Aloneness, Loneliness, and Solitude can become the sacred companions you have ever had in your life.
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