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Solitude Is Not Loneliness

Solitude is not loneliness. Loneliness or solitude? Know the difference.

Loneliness is at every age. No age bracket is immune from it.

I got that from William Shakespeare. In his “The Seven Ages of Man.” 

He depicted in his own way how loneliness is present from childhood to old age.

Loneliness assumes a different form in each developmental stage of life.

I’ve observed in my practice that loneliness in people mostly begins very early in life.

Keanu, for example, felt “generalized loneliness” in his middle age years. He pointed to his childhood in explaining it.

He shared that he’s lonely for his parents spent so little time with him when he was a little boy. 

This very little time of his parents for him then created an emotional vacuum in his heart. 

Keanu’s loneliness finds expression in his anti-social behaviors. Temper tantrums in public. Pointing a gun at others.

“The worst loneliness,” writes Mark Twain, “is not to be comfortable with yourself.”

That got my attention. 

Metabolizing loneliness at any age is to develop the ability to be comfortable with yourself.

Are you harming yourself in your loneliness? it’s a sign that you’re not being comfortable with yourself. Not one bit.

A best treatment to loneliness then is to begin with self compassion. It comprises of speaking kindly to yourself.

From that point, you can turn the loneliness into solitude – a state where you enjoy being comfortable with yourself.

Paul Tillich puts it best,

“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being ‘alone.’ “

”Loneliness is the result of absence of personal intimacy or meaningful activity. Solitude is not being in the company of others. Loneliness is always and essentially a negative experience, while solitude is often positive and renewing. Loneliness … is involuntary, unwanted. The other is voluntary and deliberately chosen.” — J. Oswald Sanders


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Online psychotherapy