How to Embrace, Not Fear, Being Alone

    Courtesy of Nir and Far

Source: Courtesy of Nir and Far

In a 2014 survey of 2,000 adults, one in three said they were afraid of being alone: ​​40 percent of women and 35 percent of men.

The world is full of distractions that keep us from feeling alone even when we are not in the physical presence of another person. Although no study identifies social media as a cause of depression and feelings of isolation — in fact, social media can be a tool to combat loneliness — it, along with texting, television, and video games, can prevent us from embracing loneliness.

Ironically, the more we undermine the quality of time through distraction alone, the more we cripple our ability to be alone—and fuel our fear of it. Giving in to the fear of being alone perpetuates a cycle of loneliness.

fear of being alone

The fear of being alone can be debilitating.

It potentially influences our choices for ourselves in negative ways: we do whatever it takes to escape the perceived pain of being alone. We might try to fill our loneliness by filling our time with people or activities we don’t really enjoy, including fickle friendships or throwing ourselves headlong into romantic relationships that aren’t good for us.

Some studies show that the fear of being alone causes us to prioritize relationship status over relationship quality, leading to unhealthy partnerships.

On the other hand, embracing quality solitude can improve your relationships.

At Michael Easter the comfort crisis, Matthew Bowker, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Medaille College, a book about stepping out of your comfort zone in search of a more fulfilling life, says, “Building the ability to be alone is likely to make your interactions with others richer . Because you bring a person into the relationship who actually has something in them and is not just a connecting circuit that only thrives on others.”

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Learning the art of solitude or contented solitude also improves productivity, creativity, empathy, and happiness, and correspondingly decreases self-esteem The Comfort Crisis.

Remember: your thoughts are not your true self. Don’t let the fear of your own thoughts keep you from making some alone time. Many people mistakenly believe that the voice in their head is the most accurate representation of themselves, but it is not.

Don’t give undue importance to the chatter in your head. You don’t have to believe everything you think.

Schedule time with yourself

Practice creates masters.

The only way to overcome the fear of being alone is to face it with a new attitude.

You may decide that your fear of being alone is holding you back and that you want to become the kind of person who is comfortable with himself. Perhaps achieving that high level of independence or self-esteem is one of your highest values.

If so, find and plan space for it in your timebox calendar. Timeboxing, a technique I explore in my book IndistractableIt’s about identifying your values ​​- the qualities of the person you want to become – and making sure they’re represented on your calendar.

Decide how much time you want to spend alone each week. Scheduling even 15 minutes alone is a step forward. Maybe use this time for a morning brain dump in a journal. Or maybe you need 30 minutes to an hour to walk alone. (shhh: Both are considered “good breaks” that rejuvenate you during the workday.) Or take a few hours to have dinner alone or go on an adventure.

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look inside

Only when we understand our discomfort with being alone can we begin to control it and find better ways to deal with negative urges.

If you’re uncomfortable with being alone, don’t let that internal trigger or negative feeling drive you to distractions like turning on the TV or opening TikTok. Instead, use these four steps to master internal triggers:

  1. Concentrate on that discomfort.
  2. Write down how it makes you feel. It’s important to realize that discomfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t always have to be relieved. It can be used like rocket fuel to propel us forward. Instead of looking for the easiest way to free ourselves from pain, we can look within to understand what drives our desire to escape our feelings. What are we avoiding by not spending time with ourselves, even if we know it’s something we want to do?
  3. Be curious about your emotions. If you are uncomfortable with being alone, how does it affect you? Do you feel belly butterflies? Do you wonder what everyone else is doing? Do you breathe evenly or quickly?
  4. Beware of borderline moments or transitions from one thing to another when we are particularly prone to distraction. One way to combat borderline moments is to use the 10-minute rule, also known as “surfing the urge.” If you try to spend some alone time but really don’t enjoy it, tell yourself it’s okay to give up, but not for another 10 minutes. And maybe when those 10 minutes are up, the discomfort won’t seem so overwhelming.
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As Oliver Burkeman wrote The guard“It’s a curious truth that negative emotions dissipate when gently attended to – but positive ones permeate.”

This post first appeared on NirAndFar.com.

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