“Solitude is where one discovers one is not alone.”
During my time of despair, some magical things started to happen. Extraordinary people came into my life exactly when I needed them.
They appeared out of nowhere, just for the purpose of pushing me in the right direction before they disappeared again.
Do you remember what I have mentioned my distant relative said back then? After initiating my recovery with one single question, I would not see him for a long time.
There was another person who said something to me just a few months after the break-up happened that I will never forget. It was an excruciatingly painful time back then, during which all I tried to do was just survive another day.
This person – who I met under mysterious circumstances – said to me:
“Build yourself a cozy home within yourself.”
What the heck was that supposed to mean? I had no clue what it meant.
It was months later before I finally understood the meaning of that sentence.
“My eyelids are my own private cave, he murmured. That I can go to anytime I want.”
—Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)
In my coaching, (and in my Course), I’m trying to urge people towards learning to be alone after a breakup.
The problem is that nobody really wants to do that – it is one of the main characteristics of being human, that we seek company. Especially the company of someone we love and respect.
We are social animals who love to be near the ones we love. We don’t want to be seen as “weirdos” who walk the cities alone or act like lonesome wolves hiding in their dens.
So, we develop tools to avoid being alone at all costs. We use texting and emailing to cheat ourselves into constant company – obsessive social networking as an avoidance technique against the loneliness.
When I say that learning to be alone is important for your recovery, it is crucial to make a distinction here:
You should avoid alone-time at all costs during the first weeks, especially during the excruciating 60 days of no contact. Distracting yourself and seeking the company of others minimizes the danger being caught in the harmful “vicious cycle of thoughts.”
But as you progress further on your road to recovery, you will reach a point where you have to face what can at times be a very unpleasant experience – your own self.
It was for me.
Even though I consider myself an introvert – and we introverts get our energy out of being alone – it was an extremely frightening and very intimidating experience.
I felt an incision of separation as if I were stranded on a different galaxy, alone, desperate. It was like I was cut off from all of humanity.
You may well know how it feels.
But very soon, with a little practice, I recognized the opportunity that lies within this first terrifying aloneness.
What is the difference between aloneness and loneliness?
Before we continue, it is important to understand the difference between aloneness and loneliness, so that we can appreciate the advantages of practicing aloneness in break-up recovery.
The main distinction is that loneliness often goes in conjunction with a feeling of emptiness – an emptiness that urgently needs to be filled with another person’s nearness.
Loneliness is a lack of something you think you need. It’s a state of misery, an open wound.
Whereas aloneness is merely the state of NOT being with other people, absent of any essential requirements.
When you are alone, there is no one around. When you are lonely, then there very well may be other people around you.
Lonely in the crowd… what a poetic thought.
Knowing that it appears that we have only to gain in aloneness – once we manage to achieve this state of being by separating it from loneliness.
And here lies the main difficulty – to be alone and NOT be lonely.
Once we learn to do that, it is a direct path that leads to the “real you.”
Someone who can enjoy aloneness can enjoy anything.
Please watch this terrific video from Andrea Dorfman as a shining example that being alone doesn’t have to be “weird”:
Why can aloneness aid your Recovery?
One vital state of your recovery process after a separation is to re-discover your true self, the person that you really are – stripped naked from all the fear, false compromises and heavy baggage you may have carried over from your last relationship.
I call this healing process the “Emotional Ex-Detox.”
There are some tools I recommend in my coaching and book to reach this state of personal freedom, one of which are tools to find your life-purpose.
But one of the preconditions of the “Emotional Ex-Detox,” is that you can identify and listen to your “own voice.” And this is ONLY possible in aloneness, stillness, and meditation.
If you can avoid the “white noise of society,” blend everything else out, the one thing that remains is YOU.
It’s simple mathematics.
As I’ve said, this was very frightening for me. I was forced to face the suppressed demons from my past. But once I faced them, the real recovery work started.
The discovery of aloneness helped me to realize that there is comfort in my inner voice and that I, in fact, don’t need anyone else to be happy.
I am complete and “at home” with myself.
That is what the guy I met so long ago was talking about. The “cozy home” within myself is always there when I need it. A safe place I can always come to.
“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up.”
I invite you to a small act of bravery.
I invite you to find a place of quiet and close the door. Turn off all electronic communication devices, turn off the door-bell – be completely unreachable.
Unplug yourself from the world.
Trust me; you will survive.
Sit down, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Notice the air flowing in and out of your lungs. Notice your chest rise and fall while you breathe gently.
Now, count every inhale and make it your goal to reach 10 counts without having distracting thoughts.
Do this daily and consistently for 5-10 minutes.
You will notice that this isn’t at all easy, especially in the beginning. You most likely won’t be able to reach the count of ten without “wandering off.”
But with time and practice, you will start to cherish these daily minutes of solitude, these “escapes to within,” and fully appreciate its advantages.
Again, don’t do this when you are still at the beginning of your break-up. Don’t start practicing aloneness until you’ve completed the 60 days of No-Contact, and not before you’ve reached a certain degree of mind-control.
Aloneness is NOT loneliness. It is a state of purity and your essential being.
Practicing aloneness takes exercise and patience. But it’s so worth it – a skill that will improve your life and give you stability.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want you to become a loner. I just want you to dedicate a short time frame per day practicing “controlled” aloneness.
I want you to use it as a tool to escape the “society madness,” and spend quality time with yourself, getting to know yourself better.Knowing and loving yourself - this is the ultimate weapon to survive any emotional turmoil... like a break-up.
Just try it, and tell me how it went in the comment section below.