Have you ever wanted some time alone? Has anyone ever told you s/he needed “some space?” 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, but being lonely includes both 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.”

All too often men and women are threatened by their partners needing or wanting “space”…an opportunity to enjoy solitude. They somehow feel that if their partners really loved them they wouldn’t want to be apart from them. Or they take it personally and project that they have done or said something that has offended their partner and s/he now wants to get away. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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 we 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."

If you are lonely examine your fears and your attitudes. Have you built walls of defense instead of bridges? Are you afraid of closeness with others, getting hurt, failing, or perhaps the pain of losing someone you love?

Are you filling your life by being busy, seeking out and spending time with people you may not particularly like? Or are you filling up the spaces of your life with lots of noise from the radio, TV, DVD’s or surfing the net endlessly?

If you feel the pain of loneliness or the fear of your partner needing to create a time for solitude, please consider reading this terrific new book, There Must Be More Than This: Finding More Life, Love, and Meaning by Overcoming Soft Addictions written by Judith Wright. While this book doesn’t address the notions of solitude, aloneness or loneliness in so many words, Ms. Wright explores the whole idea of soft addictions, which I refer to as “being busy and making noise.” These only serve to distract us from listening to our inner knowing and deepening our inner awareness.

Creating opportunities for solitude and becoming comfortable in your own company are skills you can learn and which will be hugely beneficial throughout your life.

Get to work. You’re worth it!

Until next time remember…

Only YOU can make it Happen!

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