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Alone vs. Lonely

There are approximately 171,476 words in the English language.

That’s a lot of words! So, it’s not hard to believe that there are times when we might confuse two different words because they possibly sound alike OR we think they mean the same thing. I want to talk about the latter and focus on two words that I feel are sometimes used interchangeably: alone and lonely.

What do they both mean? Alone is defined as having no one else present, while lonely means sad because one has no friends or company. If you pay attention to each definition, you will notice the big difference between each word. Alone is defined by having no one else around, it’s just you, by yourself. Lonely means that you are sad or upset because no one else is physically with you or in your presence. Therefore, the word alone deals with the physical, no one is physically in your presence, while lonely deals with the emotional or mental effects of being alone or without any company.

Because these words can be used to describe the same thing, there is the possibility that if someone is alone, it’s viewed as something negative or cause for concern. When in fact, if someone is alone, especially when they choose to be, it does not have to be perceived as an undesirable situation. We live in such a time where distractions are at our disposal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In my opinion, this has created a skewed perspective of someone choosing to be alone or just with themselves. This “alone time” should be a goal for each and every one of us. This time can be spent working on ourselves by taking care of ourselves and giving ourselves the necessary time to focus on what makes us happy, not worrying about anyone or anything else in the outside world.

The issue or problem occurs when those feelings of sadness accompany that alone time. When someone feels like they don’t belong, are an outsider, or something is wrong with them. At that point, we need to dig deep, beneath the surface, and try to get to the root causes of those feelings of loneliness and sadness. They manifested as lonely or sadness, but they a came from a much deeper place that needs to be addressed. So, instead of allowing ourselves to be taken over by those feelings, we need to try to understand and figure out why we feel that way. Then, and only then, can we start to change our ways, create new habits, and not give loneliness the power to run our lives. We have to take a stand and decide to change, if we want to see change.

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