How to Thrive When You’re by Yourself: 5 Liberating Routes

How to Be Happy Alone

A photograph of the moon rising over a mountain depicts how one may find contentment in their own company.

It is only normal that a growing number of us are feeling lonely in this hyper-connected world, where the very fabric of our society is being reconstructed and molded by technology at a lightning-quick rate and where the old institutions that formerly held us together (such as religion) are disintegrating. In this environment, it is only natural that more and more of us feel alone.

Crisis after crisis as a consequence of mass globalization, the advent of machines, pandemics, climate change, politics, families, equality, cancellation cultures, meaninglessness, mental health, etc.—am I making myself clear?

… it’s also no surprise that many of us desire to be alone but don’t know how or have any concept of how to even be good at it. Having no notion how to accomplish either of those things.

My Struggle with Loneliness, Stigma, Shame is a Journey

There is still a significant amount of shame associated with choosing to spend time alone.

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Even though I have been on a fairly lonely road for the last ten years or more, there are moments when I still struggle with the guilt that comes along with being not just an introvert but also a loner.

I am in a healthy relationship; I have two dogs that I adore; I have a job that I enjoy; and I have a spiritual practice that nourishes me, yet I do not have many friends.

In point of fact, I haven’t been part of a consistent group of friends since I was in high school. After finishing high school and dropping out of college, I sort of just… turned into a loner and went my own way.

Having adult relationships since that time has been an experience that can best be described as “meh.”

I have tried participating in volunteer work, attending yoga and meditation sessions, and even going to a Buddhist center, but the truth of the matter is that I am:

  1. shy
  2. I still have unresolved connection wounds from my past, and these wounds cause my boundaries to be either too stiff or too permeable—it’s a work in progress!
  3. suffer from anxiety as a result of my experiences with religion,
  4. I am a neurodiverse, highly sensitive person who often experiences sensory overload.
  5. I enjoy my isolation!

I’m not searching for anyone’s opinion on this matter. Given that I am lucky enough to have access to treatment, I will not be accepting any offers of free counseling in the comments section.

I have invested a lot of time in my inner work and have come a long way over the years, but I’m continuing on this road of softening, opening, and reconnection with my inner Core.

Yet the fact of the matter is that I spend the majority of my time alone, with the exception of the time I spend with my partner and our dogs on a daily basis and the time I spend seeing my extended family once a week.

Due to the nature of the job that I do (writing for and managing this website), I spend the vast majority of my time (maybe up to 90 percent of each week) at home and online.

This is the realization of a lifelong goal for me. No long drives to go to work? What the hell! No intrigue at the office? Woohoo!

Yet there are times when I just want to be alone with myself and shut off the world. The words “you need to go out more and be more like other people” are a nagging voice in the back of my head that I hear from time to time.

Or the kind of humiliation that asks, “Why don’t you have that when everyone else seems to have dozens upon dozens of friends? Look at them all giggling and grinning in that social media post!”

And a part of me, buried deep inside—what you would call my scarred and confused inner child—may sometimes ponder the question, “Is there anything genuinely wrong with me?”

In response to this, my inner critic speaks out and says, with a sneering smirk and a voice reminiscent of Cruella de Vil,

“Yeah, there IS something badly wrong with you, sweetie. Everyone can tell that you are essentially flawed, and you have no idea how damaged you are.

Yet despite the fact that I don’t have a lot of friends in real life and spend a lot of time alone myself, I’ve figured out how to be happy while I’m by myself.

Even before I started working here, before I met my partner, and before I got my dog companions, I taught myself how to be happy when I was genuinely alone inside my head.

And I feel that it was the ability to appreciate my own company that made it possible for me to appreciate the life that I am presently living.

Hence, in order to assist you, my reader and fellow lone wolf, in learning how to be happy being alone and how to be alright with it, I will rely on the knowledge and life lessons I’ve gained over the course of the past more than ten years.

How to Thrive When You’re by Yourself: 5 Liberating Routes

I am not aware of the events that led to you being by yourself at this time.

It’s possible that you’ve just ended a relationship, gone through a divorce, moved to a new country, been diagnosed with neurodivergence, found yourself in the midst of a spiritual awakening, or reached an age at which the majority of your friends and family members have died away.

Have a job that requires you to spend a lot of time alone, deal with a mental illness, be a professional or stay-at-home parent, or don’t know how to reach out to others — whatever the reason may be, I want you to know that being alone may be a gift.

Although there are times when being by oneself can feel like a punishment and we do have a cyclical need for the company of other people—in which case, a therapist or even just making new friends and connections online can be of assistance—I would like to redefine and alter the manner in which we look at being alone.

Being alone yourself enables us to:

  • Pay attention to our wants and the voice of our own heart.
  • Unwind, put your feet up, and relax.
  • Find out what it is in life that we really desire.
  • Get access to your original thoughts and innovative ideas.
  • Engage your profound mental, emotional, and spiritual faculties.
  • Befriend ourselves
  • Listen to the song that is playing in our hearts.

Leave a comment below and tell me if you’ve found any additional advantages to spending time alone that aren’t included here.

See also  Achieving Success with Perseverance

Having said that, the following are some tips on how to enjoy being by yourself and be content with the situation:

#0: Grant oneself the right to have the right to grant oneself the right

To get things started, I’d want to point out that “permission” is the most important factor to consider while trying to figure out how to enjoy being alone. Why?

The act of being granted permission enables us to think, feel, and act in a manner that is distinct from what we are used to doing.

Being alone might cause us to carry around a lot of emotional baggage, which we often do. That there is something “wrong” with a person who does not have any friends, a partner, or a family of their own, among other things, is something that society in all of its many forms teaches us to believe.

Yet when we consider the pit of pain that is society and the “soul-sucking nothingness of senseless affirmation” that is social media—excuse me while I unleash my internal Wednesday Addams here—we can see that this is not exactly an ideal norm to live by, can we?

Hence, you give yourself permission to enjoy being by yourself. Give yourself permission to enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings.

You should give yourself permission to spend important holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas by yourself, and you should also give yourself permission to feel good about this decision and about yourself. Because there’s no good reason not to.

You have every right to pursue happiness in your own company.

#1: Give yourself the time and space to relax.

When you are by yourself, you likely have more space than when you are with other people.

And even if you find yourself in a position in which you are not physically alone but are instead surrounded by many other people, that internal aloneness may help you to tune into yourself as well as the requirements of your body and mind.

After a good night’s sleep, you are able to restore your vigor and creativity, quiet your vagus nerve and the rest of your nervous system, and feel more at home in your own body.

Rest is the first step in achieving all of the goals outlined in the following sections because, if we don’t get enough of it, we won’t have the energy, creativity, or drive to make the most of our time alone.

#2: Give oneself the right to engage in playful activities.

Discovering ways to have fun and play by oneself is a profoundly therapeutic endeavor. When it comes to figuring out how to appreciate being by oneself, understanding how to play is at the very core of what makes being by oneself so delightful.

What does it seem like to you when you play? What kinds of things do you look forward to making? What activities provide you the most happiness?

Grab hold of your inner kid by the hand, put on the hat of your caring inner parent, and let your inner child go wild!

This can be gaining the knowledge necessary to create a mouthwatering baked good, perfecting the technique of gardening, acquiring a new artistic talent, beginning a creative endeavor, or seeing a foreign land for the first time.

There are a lot of different things you may do for fun, including hanging out with your furry family members or looking at the stars.

#3: Give yourself the right to pursue a project for which you have an intolerable amount of enthusiasm.

It’s possible that describing a feeling as “unbearable passion” is a little exaggerated. But what I really mean is that you need to figure out what makes you excited so that you can not only get used to spending time alone but also enjoy it.

What captivates you, excites you, inspires you, heals you, brings you joy, and fascinates you?

Play, as I said in the previous point that I just talked about, is what helps you discover what you enjoy doing to spend your time with and what your ikigai is. Ikigai is a Japanese term that literally translates to “reason for being.’

Extra points go to you if your area of interest also benefits mankind in some manner, since it will make being alone not just worthwhile but also profoundly significant.

#4: Authorize a rewriting of the story you tell yourself in your head.

Being by oneself may often bring on feelings of guilt, poisonous shame, self-blame, and self-loathing, along with a host of other unpleasant sensations and thoughts.

It’s easy to become stuck in a victim mindset, in which we see ourselves as insignificant specks floating aimlessly in the great ocean that is life.

“Why is it that I can’t be more like…?”

“Just look at all of their companions! I am not in possession of any of it. I’m a miserable loser.”

“It’s a terrible thing that I have to spend so much time by myself.”

“There has to be a problem.” wrong with me,” 

“I will never have anybody else in my life.”

“No one cares about me or knows what I’m going through.”

Have you ever found yourself thinking any of the above-mentioned thoughts and letting them go through your head? I can assure you that I have!

Giving yourself the go-ahead to change your inner story entails being prepared to let go of your identity as a victim, a weirdo, or — insert any other derogatory label here — and accept yourself as a person who just so happens to be alone.

How would it feel, what would it sound like, and what would it look like for you to rewrite the story that you tell yourself?

How can you give yourself the gift of a good inner story that is also healthier and more self-affirming?

Some such examples are as follows:

“Spending time alone is one of my favorite things to do, and that’s good with me!”

The more time I spend by myself, the more fed and invigorated I feel.

“Even if I have moments when I just want to be alone myself, I am certain that my connection to my higher power is never severed,”

“At this moment, many individuals are by themselves, as I am, and that’s alright. That frees up more time for me to devote to the activities that bring me joy.

I am free to accept my personality type and reject societal pressure to conform to preconceived notions of who I “should” be.

Are there any additional self-healing inner narratives that come to mind for you?

#5: Grant yourself the right to mend, mature, and treat others with kindness.

There is no way that I would have been able to if I had not experienced the amount of isolation that I have.

See also  Reframing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

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Explore in depth my inner work and the spiritual road toward restoration.
Develop a relationship with your soul and spirit that is sustaining.

Find your connection via a variety of mediums, including but not limited to: the outdoors, meditation, spirit guides and allies, internet communities, and face-to-face interactions.

It is an attitude that we carry, not anything that we can ever discover on the outside, that determines whether or not we are able to learn how to be happy being alone and being good with it.

The ability to heal on a deeper level and to develop mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as the capacity to discover who we are and what we desire, may all be facilitated by spending time alone.

It gives us the room to go through past traumatic experiences, recover from past wounds, and start again.

Have you ever pondered the reason behind why so many monks, nuns, sages, mystics, and other spiritual people throughout history spent extended periods of time by themselves?

And spending time with yourself may be immensely therapeutic if you give yourself permission to do so.

Even if the mind could immediately jump in and start repeating judgments that are based on cultural conditioning, being alone has always been a doorway to not just pleasure but also satisfaction.

Consider the examples of Jesus in the wilderness, Muhammad in the cave, Moses on the mountain, and so on.

Being alone is inherently a spiritual rite of passage; however, I am not suggesting that becoming a prophet is a consequence of one’s time spent alone; rather, what I am suggesting is that being used to spending time by one’s lonesome is a rite of passage in and of itself.

It’s possible that this is the root cause of your current situation, where you find yourself alone. You are the only one who can find it out.

What If You Continue to Feel Lonely Despite Your Best Efforts?

In the event that none of the advice presented above resonates with you, or in the event that you have really attempted all of the advice and are still unhappy, there are likely many reasons for this.

It’s possible that you’re an extrovert who naturally wants to be around other people and thrives when you are, or that your trauma is keeping you from enjoying both your own company and the company of others.

What should you do if you find that being by yourself still makes you unhappy?

Here’s some advice:

Consult a professional counselor or therapist (there are many options out there, both online and in person).

Consider using your time spent helping others as a meaningful entry point into relationships with others.

Just going out into the world and surrounding yourself with other people and finding solace in their company may make you feel more connected to the world. And nine times out of ten, when you smile at a stranger, you’ll get a grin back.

Locate locations in your community that make you feel secure and at ease, like the park or the library, and make it a habit to go there on a regular basis; this will considerably improve your chances of meeting new acquaintances.

Closing Remarks

As we get to the end of this advice on how to enjoy being by yourself, I would like to share a lovely poem with you.

It seems to me that this quote captures the allure of being alone as well as the possibilities that may be found in an experience that is so often dreaded:

Be like a thunderstorm that follows a little rain.

or lightning that occurs on a day with no cloud cover.

Being the lone wolf in a pack

Let your mind wander, but be sure to find your way back.

Be convoluted; there’s no need to be specific.

Whatever it is that you are, there is nothing wrong with it.

A perfect match, often known as a unique specimen,

be the light that blinds, or remain in the darkness.

Find your own truth, even if it costs you everything.

Find out what it is that makes your heart desire.

Scream at the moon, descend a star,

Just exist as the amazing creature that you already are.

 Debra McLain

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