Is spending time alone a good or bad thing? Spending time alone in our context means an act of willingly separating yourself from the hustle and distractions of life and the environment into a place where you can be alone with your thoughts.
Some people naturally find this exciting while others, most of the society, dread being alone. This is majorly caused by the popular belief in cultures that being alone is negative, being confused with loneliness.
Being alone is not loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling of lack of connection with the environment. It does not necessarily occur in the absence of people.
A person can be lonely amidst a crowd. Just like a student in a new school would feel lonely although they are among many other students. One can have several relationships, but if those relationships do not satisfy the person’s expectations from them, loneliness may result.
Spending time alone, however, can be beneficial. This does not mean that every time spent alone is beneficial (as there can be some unhealthy isolations), but there are vital benefits that every individual needs that can’t be gotten through any other means apart from spending time alone.
Times When Spending Time Can Be Beneficial
- It is voluntary
- You also maintain positive relationships
- You can return to social groups when desired
- You feel good about spending time alone
When You Are Forced Into Solitude
There are other times in life when being alone happens— not as something you planned for or something you would choose. At such times, you’re not in a graveyard; you can still make something beautiful out of it. You can become intentional about it and seek productive activities to engage in.
You don’t have to be frustrated anytime life pushes you into solitary. Studies have shown that creativity is better enhanced when an individual is alone as against group thinking.
Physical health, not just emotional health, also can be improved in moments spent alone (medically proven). It’s just about knowing the right combinations. Now here are the social implications of spending time alone— how it affects your social interactions.
Social Implications of Spending Time Alone
1. It helps you truly know yourself
Knowledge of self is important to have healthy relationships. You must know yourself and what your desires and dislikes are for you to be able to determine what quality of people you need in your life.
Knowing your needs helps you know what to look out for in relationships. You can identify people whose strengths complement your weaknesses and people whose weaknesses your strength complement.
This creates greater bonds and more satisfying relationships. After all, we don’t have relationships for the sake of it, but so we can benefit from them and be of benefit to the other parties.
2. It helps you develop self-awareness and empathy
Self-awareness is being conscious of your most likely behaviors and the mindsets that control them. Self-awareness further means being aware of your self-consciousness and other psychological responses within you.
Self-awareness is necessary for the development of empathy (being able to feel the pains of others). You must come in contact with your own pains (know what causes them, how you react to them, the other feelings they produce within you, and how they affect your life generally) for you to be able to relate with someone going through similar pains; through experience, you will be able to offer the help the person needs.
Empathy is a very important factor in building healthy and strong relationships, but it cannot be fully developed until you step back into some time alone with yourself to be able to bring into the picture all the diverse motions within you.
The bubbling times with friends do not avail you of the opportunity to truly recognize what is happening within you because you are most likely on the receiving end— hearing or reacting to what the other person is saying, or trying to say what fits the communication.
But time alone brings you to your own uninfluenced self.
3. It helps you calm your emotions
Emotions like anger, excitement, and timidity easily becloud us when among others. When these emotions remain, we mostly don’t make rational decisions. As the popular saying goes, the heart does not think; it knows nothing.
Calming off emotions is necessary for you to consider the consequences of your actions before taking them. You’re not just being pushed into rash decisions that you will later regret after all the emotions are gone.
When you have calmed off your emotions, you can get a fresh release of quietness and a kind of rational strength to make decisions that will help the relationship in the long run.
4. It helps us cherish our time together even more
We sometimes take for granted or get overwhelmed by people that are always with us, but taking out time to be on our own gives us anticipation or excitement towards meeting the person(s) again.
Some personal interests must have been developed when alone, new experiences got; discoveries would have been made, and lessons learned. This opens a totally new chapter in communication, thereby deepening the friendship.
Spending time alone, unlike what we have believed, is not a social problem. It can, on the other hand, produce social benefits of better and more satisfying relationships. It gives us time to know ourselves better, room to build empathy, an avenue to calm off emotions and makes us miss each other to cherish time together more. Spending time alone can, however, be detrimental if it is sponsored by loneliness.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.