Have you ever wanted some time alone?
The notions of solitude, loneliness and being alone are often confusing or misunderstood, especially by committed partners.
One way to look at this is to say that solitude is the joy of being alone while loneliness is the pain of being alone. Being alone is not necessarily to be lonely.
Being alone involves only physical separation. Being lonely includes spiritual and psychological separation, or isolation.
According to author Richard J. Foster, "solitude is an inner fulfillment, while loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is a voluntary retreat from the company of other people and loneliness seems beyond our control."
Theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich writes, "Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone."
Solitude is the ability to enjoy inward quietness. Times of solitude are frequently enriching and refreshing if we use them wisely. When we choose times of limited seclusion we often experience new perspectives that help us know more fully the things that really matter. Solitude is the prerequisite for creativity and the place in which we can discover the treasure chest of tranquility and serenity and all their benefits.
The fact of the matter is that the state of "aloneness" is the same whether we are suffering loneliness or enjoying solitude. The only difference is in our attitude toward ourselves.
In solitude we enjoy spending time alone, because we know that we are in the best company there is! In loneliness we believe we are alone because nobody wants to be with us.
Loneliness is not simply a matter of being alone, but rather the feeling that no one really cares what happens to you. It is the painful awareness that you lack close and meaningful contact with others, which produces feelings of being cut off from them.
According to Mother Teresa, "The biggest disease is not leprosy or cancer. It is the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted – of being deserted and alone."
So next time you want time alone or you hear someone ask for time alone, stop and remind yourself that this is a precious gift we give to ourselves and to other people.
Remember, only YOU can make it happen!