By Charmaine Caldwell, PhD, LPC-S
As a counselor, I hear many clients talking about not being able to be alone. They are not talking about being alone in a car driving someplace. They say, “Well, I can’t go to a movie alone. I can’t go out to eat alone, I’ll look stupid. Or, I’ve got to have someone to be with on the weekend or I’m a loser—no friends—no one likes me—no one invites me to anything. I hate to be alone. I am afraid! I just can’t do it. I’ll feel too lonely.” “Lonely” is a feeling; “alone” is a situation, and there is a vast difference in the two terms. Some people feel alone even when they are with a group because there is no real connection to anyone around them.
Culturally we are programmed to be “with” — with family and friends, to have many friends (how many friends do you have on Facebook? Does a high number make you feel better about yourself?); we are encouraged to be social, be part of the community. People “wonder” about a person who chooses to be alone some of the time.
What is so scary about being by yourself? Will you have to think about something, perhaps something you need to do? Do you compare yourself to others? Are your thoughts about yourself positive or negative? You can control the direction of your thoughts as well as control your feelings. You can intentionally make time to be alone to examine goals you have for your life, or to assess your character—are you the person that you want to be? You can have the uninterrupted time for introspection or to be creative; time to think and to clarify your feelings, reasoning through your thoughts can lead to a greater self-understanding.
Here are some ways to have quality time alone: develop a workout routine, develop a new hobby, practice self-reflection, be bold and try new things, be with your furry friends in nature, put yourself first, and live in the moment—not yesterday nor tomorrow, but in the moment of “right now.”
If you have this fear or need help with issues in your life that seem to be out of control, there are counselors at Samaritan Counseling Center that are available to help you. Call 432-563-4144 to schedule an appointment.