Living with addiction and mental health issues can cause us to isolate ourselves, out of fear, shame and embarrassment. Self-isolation can be especially harmful to our health and can cause our conditions to worsen. Solitude, on the other hand, can be powerfully beneficial to our healing and recovery. What is the difference between solitude and isolation, and how is solitude good for us?
Isolation usually comes from a place of fear and reactivity. We push people away. We suffer alone. Solitude, on the other hand, is the conscious choice to spend time alone to give ourselves the space to heal. When we’re struggling with addiction, depression and other mental illnesses, we can often find ourselves in unhealthy relationships and friendships. We’re dealing with intense interpersonal conflict, on top of all our other issues. When we don’t have time alone, we never give ourselves the opportunity to connect with ourselves on a deep level. We’re so busy trying to keep up with the demands of our relationships, trying to solve conflicts and ease arguments, that we become totally disconnected from our inner selves. Solitude gives us some space from the unhealthy dynamics of our relationships. It allows us the chance to regain perspective, on what we want from those relationships, on who we are as people, and on what we need to do to heal.
Being alone can be scary. We’re afraid to feel lonely. We often have deeply rooted fears of abandonment, and of being alone, because of past traumatic experiences. We often stay in situations and relationships that aren’t good for us because the alternative, feeling lonely and alone, feels too painful for us. Learning how to be alone strengthens our connection to ourselves, develops our emotional resilience and builds our courage. When we’re able to be alone, we rediscover who we truly are, without the distractions and escapism of relationships. We explore the things we love. We return to our passions and interests. We regain our sense of self and develop our identity.
When we’re constantly being distracted by external things, such as relationships, we don’t have to learn how to handle our thoughts and emotions. When we’re alone for the first time, we can find our racing thoughts and intense emotions overwhelming, painful, even unbearable. We’re tempted to seek solace in the company of a lover or friend. We desperately want to escape our anxiety and sadness. Solitude forces us to learn how to deal with ourselves. We’re prompted to learn mindfulness, to practice meditation, and to gain the skills we need to access our inner tranquility. We learn serenity. We prioritize our sanity. We develop inner peace.
Bayview Recovery’s mission is to create a community of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to healing and committed to supporting one another in recovery. Call us today: 888-570-7154.