Being single used to conjure up ideas of the proverbial wall flower at the dance, the outsider missing out on all the happy hormones, the honeyed togetherness, the kissing and cuddling; or the tearful one sitting at home Bridget-Jones-style with a tub of ice cream, excluded from the terrific fun that couples always seem be having.
But today, being single is quite the adventure. Many people are consciously choosing to be single while they focus on their careers, travel, studies, spiritual path, personal growth or other exciting pursuits. The lure of freedom, choice and time is captivating. Close friendships provide intimacy and there’s always the great outdoors, your furry friend, hobbies, or Netflix to keep you company. Even more than that, cultivating time on your own has many powerful benefits.
In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself. – Laurence Sterne
Embracing and celebrating being single as a vital opportunity for spiritual and personal growth, opens up the pathway for phenomenal wisdom, clarity and gifts to emerge. If you can truly learn to enjoy your own company, you will give yourself a lifetime free from loneliness. Being one half of a couple doesn’t immunise you against feeling lonely, but relishing solitude does. Loneliness is something we all feel, even when we are with someone. Sometimes we can feel even lonelier in a relationship than when we’re single, as we have more expectations of the person we’re in relationship with, and when these are unmet we fall even harder. We can also feel lonely in a group of friends or in a crowd. Loneliness (feeling alone) is vastly different to solitude (being alone). Solitude is essential for inspiration, self-growth and spiritual awareness.
Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. – Paul Tillich
There are many amazing advantages to spending time alone and getting to know yourself outside of a partnership. Here are seven big ones:
1. Being Single Gives You the Opportunity to Truly Get to Know Yourself
When you’re in a relationship how much energy goes into the other person? So much, right? While you love those romantic beach walks and candle-lit dinners, your time and space for yourself is severely limited and it’s so easy to get caught up meeting other people’s needs and neglect your own. Spending time alone, you have a real opportunity to get to know yourself, to work out who you are, why you’re here and what you have to say. Solitude can help us develop self-confidence, inner power and an unshakeable solidity in ourselves.
2. Your Creative Expression Flowers with Solitude
All the great artists praise solitude as the doorway to creativity. Poet Marianne Moore says the cure for loneliness is solitude. Exceptional creativity and inspiration often happens in those times we are alone. Creativity finds those who have learnt to be with their inner world and are comfortable in long periods of stillness. We can brainstorm and collaborate with others at the ideas stage, but we must retreat within, shutting out the outside world, in order to access and focus our creative voice and allow inspiration to flow.
3. Being Happy Alone Boosts Your Chances of Being Happy in a Relationship
When we are comfortable with who we are, and actually enjoy our own company, we become solid people who are happy with life, self-accepting and able to cope with whatever curve balls are thrown at us. We don’t need a relationship to fill us up, or to fix the gaping holes in our psyche. We don’t base our self worth on another’s opinion, or love, and so we aren’t thrown off course as easily. We have a solid self-esteem based on our own self-worth. When we enter a relationship from this space, we expect less and we bring more to the partnership. This gives us a much higher possibility of having a long-lasting healthy, happy and positive relationship with someone else.
4. Solitude Helps You Cultivate Self-Reliance, Strength and Courage
There’s nothing more empowering than knowing you can rely on yourself. When we take the time to become aware of our strengths and our vulnerabilities, we cultivate strength and courage. When the shit hits the fan, we will know what we can handle and what we need support with. Too often we become dependent on our partners and if they have skills in certain areas, we let them handle those aspects of daily life. While learning to give and receive is vital to any partnership, in the long term this can leave us a little lopsided and lacking in skills, such as managing finances, or our emotions. When we are single we are forced to be multi-skilled and to develop all areas of ourselves and our life.
5. Being Alone Expands Your Spiritual Growth
Solitude is essential for spiritual growth. Think of the yogi in the Himalayan cave seeking enlightenment. Spirituality is an inside job. No one else can do it for you. Spending time alone, in stillness, accessing our inner world gives us greater inner peace, clarity and wisdom. Spiritual practices can also help us to turn loneliness into joyous solitude. Being alone incubates your spirit and opens you up to bliss and grace.
6. Solitude Reboots Your Brain and Your Nervous System
Being alone is a deeply revitalising practice. Time alone allows us to order our priorities according to what we need, instead of focusing them on the needs of others. The more we take time to be alone, the more mindful we become, and in this sacred space of stillness solutions arise more easily. Our nervous system is overstimulated and overwhelmed by all the demands put on us daily. Being single gives you the opportunity to carve out regular time to reboot yourself, and this is positive for your health long-term and your capacity to respond to stress and trauma.
7. You Discover Your Gifts
When you’re alone you have the time and space to stretch yourself, to find out what you’re capable of. You can experiment with learning to play a musical instrument, take up an artistic practice, write, grow a garden, discover who you are and how you want to express your essence.
There’s an emotional maturity, solidity and bliss that comes from enjoying your own company, relishing in your personal space, your creativity and your inner world. The benefits of being alone are praised by philosophers, artists and spiritual teachers… for good reason! Embrace your single status, knowing you can travel where you like, eat what you fancy and explore your creativity with absolute freedom. Getting to know and love who you are is one of the most spectacular and soulful adventures you’ll ever embark on.