Alone vs Lonely


Over the years through my line of work, I have found myself in multiple scenarios where I've been called to support women to transition out of an emotionally abusive relationships. Each time the pattern makes itself clear. When I ask the question, ‘Why do you stay’, the common response is that they are fearful of being alone. When I discuss what it means to be alone, I often hear stories of never finding love again. They talk about being worried that they will never belong or fit in or not feeling worthy enough.

Today I really want to break down the difference between being alone and being lonely.

What’s the difference between being alone vs lonely.

The word alone signifies a completeness. A sense of solitude which basically means having a oneness in yourself or a oneness in a higher purpose or being.

The word alone is often confused with the word lonely. To be lonely is to have no one around you for support. When you search up the word lonely you’ll find it accompanied by words like abandonment and neglect. There is no sense of connectedness where loneliness is concerned.

It’s important to note that we are never going to be 100 percent free of loneliness. It's a part of being a human being much like experiencing anxiety or guilt. The key is that we’re not experiencing a sense of loneliness for long periods of time.

Loneliness leads us to isolation and when we're isolated it means that we're disconnected from love, truth, respect and values. We are hardwired for connection and it simply is not possible for us to thrive in loneliness.

What if I told you that being alone could be empowering?

It's possible to be alone and have the most empowering experience of your life. It is also possible to be in a relationship and have the loneliest experience of your life.

I remember this feeling when I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. I felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells and never quite knew if I would trigger my partner to be abusive towards me.

I didn't have a source to go to where I was receiving genuine love because I was disconnected from my friends and family. On the outside, my relationship would’ve looked successful and as though it was thriving. But, I was the loneliest that I have ever been in my life because I didn't have access to real true love.

Spending three years of my life ‘alone’ was the most empowering experience of my life.

It is 100% possible for you to be alone and to feel the most empowered that you've ever felt in your life.

When we learn to spend time in solitude, we open ourselves up to new experiences of self that we didn’t know existed. Solitude is the birth place of self-awareness which is key to self-love. It would be very tricky to truly and honestly love yourself if you didn’t have an awareness of who ‘self’ is.

When we’re in solitude we switch off from the pressures of comparison, hustle and grind. Instead we focus on spending time in our own company and learn to enjoy it. This means switching off the pressure to tune into podcasts, read books and having deep and meaningful chat. It’s in these moments that we allow for new layers of ourselves to present themselves and come out to play.

You become more aware of your self rather than how you respond to external things or people or practices.

Solitude is where I felt the pull to start my life’s work.

I was sitting on a beach with my journal when I felt the call to start my charity Prepair. I knew there were so many of my sisters across the world settling for emotional abuse without realising it’s impact.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It's a positive and constructive state of engagement with yourself. It was pretty desirable. A place where you can give to your self fulfilling and energising company.

Irene Wakefield