How do you feel about being alone? Your answer may be a clue to how you’re wired as a human being. Some of us spend so much time alone that it’s uncomfortable to be around people and some of us spend so much time with people that it’s uncomfortable to be alone. We like to put people into categories such as the ones psychoanalyst Carl Jung created: introverts and extroverts. If you enjoy hobnobbing at a party, you’re categorized as an extrovert and if you aren’t fond of small talk and would prefer a good book cuddled up on your couch at home, you’re categorized as an introvert.

It’s not only about our behaviour, but also about how we recharge our batteries. Some of us need to be around other people to feel energized and some of us need peace and quiet to refuel, so we can handle being around people. Some of us are a little of both and can switch back and forth quite easily. I mention all of this because as human beings, we love a good category. We appreciate it when things are clear cut and easily defined but what it is to be human is not that. Being human is complex and multi-faceted. We’re all unique. Categories are helpful as a guide to point us toward what each one of us needs to thrive. It helps to reflect on situations where we feel most energized or relaxed. Were you alone and enjoyed the day so much you lost track of time? Perhaps that’s a hint that you enjoy being alone. Were you with others who shared a common interest whether it’s a hobby or work?  Did it fill you up or tire you out? Reflecting this way can help us understand what our needs are.

“What a lovely surprise to discover how unlonely being alone can be.” Ellen Burstyn

I’m more introverted than extroverted. I chose a very public life in broadcasting and public speaking as a career and in many ways, it’s been a terrific education. I need alone time to replenish, manage stress and reflect. Alone time helps me feel more creative and energized so I can be at my best when I’m around people. I’ve learned how to be more extroverted when I’m in social situations (practice helps). People have such interesting stories, and I learn a lot from them. I’ve learned that my story can be helpful to others as well. So, encouraging myself to be more social has had a lot of benefit.

We humans are meant to live in community and to be interdependent. We’re meant to rely on one another; not to be isolated. Research tells us that a certain amount of alone time is beneficial, especially as we age. When we’re alone, we’re more focused and away from other people’s opinions and influence. Being alone is a state of being, and being lonely is an emotional response. While loneliness is part of being human and it’s something we all feel from time to time, we all experience it differently. Some of us feel lonely for a short time and others feel lonely for long periods. Some of us feel lonely when we’re with people, especially when we don’t feel those around us care for us or understand us.

Feeling lonely can contribute to mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and sleep challenges. Conversely, mental health challenges can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Because this aspect of our lives is unique to each one of us, there isn’t one solution for all. Life events outside of our control, important holidays, and big changes in our lifestyle can magnify feelings of loneliness. Being kind toward ourselves or being self-compassionate is an excellent starting point, then opening up to people we trust, not overwhelming ourselves with tasks, resisting the impulse to compare our situation with anyone else’s and instead recognizing that our situation is unique, and the remedy will be unique as well. Learning to take excellent care of ourselves by speaking kindly toward ourselves and about ourselves, taking it slow and not pressuring ourselves to have all the answers might be an effective prescription to start with. Getting exercise without overdoing it, listening to beautiful music, watching lighthearted entertainment on tv, or going out for a walk with a friend might be more your style. Remember procrastination is fear in disguise and deliberately taking small steps to complete a task can help to calm fear.

“The loneliness you feel is actually an opportunity to reconnect with others and yourself.”  Contemporary philosopher – Maxime Legace                  

Loneliness is an epidemic, in our current North American social climate, despite or maybe because of the many ways we are electronically connected. But human connection is something we haven’t been able to replicate digitally, and I hope we never do. Instead, I hope we choose to connect in community whether it’s with our family or our family of choice, so that we can see how much we have in common and help one another along the way.

Life is much smoother when we accept that we’re all unique and that includes our needs. I love alone time to refuel while my friend needs to be around people to fill her tank. We don’t judge one another, instead we respect each other and encourage each other to do what’s right for us. While I’m an independent minded woman I know that I need people as much as they need me. It’s my responsibility to make sure I take good care of myself and sometimes that means spending time alone and sometimes that means sharing what’s happening with my friend.

We’ve been conditioned (I say conned) to think that when we’re independent, we’re strong, but in learning what our needs are and how to be vulnerable with others, we discover our true strength. Having the courage to be vulnerable sets us up to receive support from our community and it’s feeling that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves that builds sustainable strength. It’s knowing that we’re all in this together and together we can do anything.


This Wellings blog by Kathie Donovan was exclusively written for Wellings Communities and appeared first on


2 commentaires

  • Catherine

    Thank you Kathie for sharing what you have learned through life. I am so happy to have found you and Shepherds Fashion.

  • Mary Niebergall

    When I meet people in a social setting, they are convinved that i am an extravert. But the whole picture is that Ineed a lot of alone time to face a social setting, which can, depending on the social setting, create anxiety for me…the bad thoughts creep in; can I do it, am I strong enough, etc. Getting much better at it…..procrastination is my go-to barrier.

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