The Courage to Be Alone

We often confuse being alone with being lonely because we haven’t learned how to be alone. We think we always need something or someone as a buffer between us & our deepest thoughts.

We trawl the Internet, eat, shop, have sex, or numb ourselves into oblivion so we don’t have to face one simple truth: We’re afraid to be alone.

What’s the cost of this fear?

For starters, you’re rarely in the present moment by yourself. There’s always something going on to take up space and keep you busy so you don’t have to face yourself−your wounds, fears, gifts, power, and light. You fill the hours and days of your life with “stuff” and wonder why you still feel so empty inside.

Secondly, you can’t truly grow or evolve without the courage to be alone. Dark nights of the soul force you to your knees and strip away the layers of noise insulating you from your truth: You want to shine but you’re afraid to; after all, what will people think?

Here’s the thing, though−hiding from yourself only keeps you stuck and lethargic. You can’t live your dreams or dare to prosper if you can’t face yourself, warts & all. You CANNOT do your great work if you’re unwilling to get up close and personal with your heart, desires, and bullshit excuses. Yes, you won’t transcend your excuses until you recognize them for what they are and crush them anyway.

The courage to be alone is the courage to face your raw, vulnerable truths and accept them as they are without making yourself wrong for any or all of them. It’s the courage to accept yourself as you are even as you inch closer to who you yearn to be. It’s knowing that you are worthy, you are lovable, and you are enough. Even if you’re packing some extra pounds. Even if you’re at a crossroads and don’t know which way to turn. Even if you can’t remember why you’re supposed to care about your business or dream in the first place.

There’s an art to being alone by choice. You can transform your relationship to solitude with these 3 steps:

Embrace mindfulness.

Whether or not you meditate in lotus position every day, mindfulness is a key step in learning to be alone. Bringing your awareness to your breath, energy, and mind-set shows you when you’re present in the moment or checked out and unconscious.

When you’re present in the moment, you’re living in the Now, not the past or future. You’re open to your needs, wants, and desires right now, and you’re able to determine if they’re aiding or hindering your intentions for yourself.

In other words, you’re more aware of what’s going on in your head and how it’s playing out in your life. When you make the connection between your thoughts and reality, you start figuring out how to change the chronic negative thoughts into positive ones so you can live a happier, brighter life. Doing this takes courage because you have to face what’s holding you back and brainstorm ways to transmute it into light.

Being mindful is a moment-by-moment practice. You have to remind yourself that it’s OK to be awake and aware, to feel what you feel, and to want what you want. You won’t get very far if you keep judging yourself for every little thing and feeling you should be thinner, prettier, richer, or whatever else is rattling around in your head. True transformation occurs when you don’t lie to yourself, tear yourself down, or wait for someone/thing to come and save you.

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your breath, thoughts, how you feel in your body, and why you’re doing whatever you’re doing. If you feel weighed down or depleted by something, can you delegate it or at least limit your exposure to it? If you feel energized or uplifted by something, can you weave more of it into your life?

This isn’t about looking or feeling a certain way−it’s about showing up for every moment of your life and not letting loneliness or lethargy eat up any more of your time.

Know the difference between feeling lonely and being alone.

When you’re lonely, you crave stimulation, companionship, support, and love. You’re looking for external sources to feed your hunger & fill you up inside. As I’m sure you know, other things and people can only take you so far−they can’t fill you up as robustly as being alone can. How often have you felt utterly alone even when you’re in a crowded room or surrounded by friends?

When you’re alone, you’re in communion with yourself. You boldly face your thoughts and desires, and you’re not afraid to explore or imagine having what you want. You’ve found a healthy, sustainable way to process your thoughts, desires, and feelings so you’re on top of your game more often than you’re off it. And most importantly, you’ve learned to enjoy your own company and make peace with your vulnerabilities.

Learning to be alone means you’re able to tap into the love you have for yourself and feel it so you can fill up your empty spaces with it. It means you refuse to succumb to grasping loneliness and you feel grounded in yourself whether you’re alone on a mountaintop or in a crowded ballroom.

Build a daily self-expression practice.

Sometimes we feel lonely because we don’t know who we really are, what we really want, or where we truly belong. We flit from one thing to the next, searching here, there, and everywhere for the answer to our heart’s cry.

When you express yourself daily, you figure out who you are and what you’re about. You piece together the rich mosaic of your needs, wants, deepest desires, and the best ways to feed them. You discover what lights you up, turns you on, and makes you feel like you can do anything. You discover your Voice, message, and big Why. Freeing yourself to express your deepest truths frees you to live your fullest, most vibrant life.

Are you up for it?

Freely expressing yourself also helps you design a lifestyle that nourishes you and keeps you glowing. It’s hard not to beam with bonhomie when you know what you want, where you’re headed, and why you’re headed there. Exploring your desires & intentions helps you craft a container to live out those desires & intentions. You make yourself a compass to guide you & keep you pointed towards your North Star. Who doesn’t want some of that, right?

Being alone is courageous and oh so totally worth it. Learning to be fully present in each moment is a sure way to enhance your daily life and make you feel light on your feet. Embracing mindfulness, knowing the difference between feeling lonely and being alone, and expressing yourself daily prep you to enjoy being alone and growing from it.

How will you transform your relationship to being alone?

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash