Solitude reveals the richness of the Self, while loneliness reveals the poverty of the Self.
It’s good to be aware of feelings of loneliness, and to avoid escaping them by making unhealthy choices such as turning on the TV for background noise, eating junk food, or other addictive behaviors. When you’re alone, you can try to relish the time, do something special for yourself, read great books, listen to good music, reach for depth and serenity.
Too much isolation, however, can lead to melancholy. Loneliness may be a signal that you need to take action to connect with other people. Companionship and community can be revitalizing and enjoyable, but they require active participation.
If you don’t have friends or family nearby that you want to reach out to, helping someone else, such as volunteering at a senior center or wounded soldier program, is a wonderful way to connect with others and eliminate loneliness while doing something worthwhile.
Other ways to meet people and simply enjoy the camaraderie of others include myriad community activities, such as lectures at the library, classes, community theatre, and toastmasters. Pursuing your interests through community activities gets you in touch with people and may make you feel more vibrant and engaged, which will make reaching out to others easier and more natural.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD