Alone or Lonely?

Alone and Lonely – two words that regularly get used interchangeably. How wrong is that? They are two very different things, very different feelings, very different mental outlooks. The choice is to know which one is relevant and which is correct for you at any particular time.

Alone or Lonely?

Consider the situation where you are sitting in a bar writing a newsletter, reading a book or simply catching up on the world around you in the media. There may be people with you or you may be all alone – that doesn’t mean to say you are lonely, just on your own. Solitary existence doesn’t mean someone is lonely, the assumption is that because someone doesn’t have a partner they must be lonely, that’s not always the case.

There are many times when we all want to be alone, in a solitary environment without all the noise and distraction going on around us. Time to contemplate the world and the opportunities around us or simply to appreciate being alive and all the things that are going on in our world at the moment.

Seeking out time alone is something we all should do more of for our own personal sanity, be that standing on top of a mountain and breathing in the clean fresh air, having a quiet cup of coffee in your favourite hideaway or sitting under a tree for an afternoon and reading a book and enjoying every single minute of it. Being alone is doing things by yourself and also doing them for yourself. With all the ‘stuff’ that goes on all of the time it can be very difficult to get time alone, a mobile phone prevents genuine alone time as it’s too easy to reference, scroll through or just watch more ‘noise’.

Lonely is where you could do with somebody else’s company to help put a smile on your face or distract you from the current situation or challenges at hand. Considering lonely and loneliness together and they have different meanings. Loneliness is the feeling of needing others around you but for whatever reason you are unable to fill that gap. The gap here can in turn become a void and more of an aching loss or feeling of something being missing or absent preventing that rare chance to figure yourself out. Sadly for some loneliness can consume you, consider the greatest challenge facing the older generation where mobility becomes an issue and in turn access to others and companionship creating that feeling of loneliness.

These battles continue in the workplace. In business you can feel incredibly lonely at the top of your business or department because everyone wants a piece of you – they need answers, are not willing to think for themselves or are just high maintenance and you have to be the brains and the fixer for everything. And then guess what, when it all goes wrong it was all down to you as everybody else has legged it and are not stepping up to support you. That’s a lonely feeling. It doesn’t have to be like that but for many that is the way it is, and no other solutions appear on the horizon.


Loneliness Being Alone
The isolation with expectations unmet. Finding a sense of freedom in isolation.
Crying without being seen. Being so consumed with oneself that you smile or laugh for no reason.
The sense of emotional abandon. Physical and mental freedom.
Makes you want to find distractions to free yourself from it. Allows you to follow your heart.
Stems from blaming oneself. Comes from loving oneself.
The feeling of being disconnected. Connecting with oneself.
The riot in your brain that nobody can hear. The quiet everyone can feel.
Depending on someone else for happiness. Finding your own happiness.
Longing for something that doesn’t exist. Enjoying everything that exists in solitude.
Rooted in fear. Rooted in peace.
Being restless all the time. Being content with yourself.
Inspired by – Differences Between Being Alone and Being Lonely By Shriya Joshi

Clearly not all of the above differences are relevant in all situations and certainly not to any one individual. The big challenge here is to understand what is going on in your world so you can have greater context as to being alone vs loneliness. My way forward over the past 15 years has been to surround myself with a PowerTeam, a proactive group of people that all look out for my best interest. Some paid for, some personally selected and personally invested in through other ways aside of cash.

Seeking out your PowerTeam, your help network is the starting place – reference previous newsletter here on building PowerTeams. Please seek clinical support if you need it, nobody should be alone and finding the right network and support is so important to your personal and professional success. Make an appointment with yourself in your diary / calendar where everyday you spend time alone, reading, writing, meditating, thinking or just breathing – get stronger through ‘me time’ looking out for yourself.

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