I brought up this question because I spent Christmas day on my own because i wasn't feeling at all well, and did not wish to launch myself in that state on anyone else and spoil their celebration. I was asked if I didn't feel lonely. But I actually enjoyed it, though I spent most of the day in bed reading and speaking to distant relatives on the phone. It was so serene and stress free, I might do it again.
For me there is a big difference between those two words.
If we CHOOSE to be alone, for whatever reasons, as long as it isn't taken to excess, that has little to do with actually being lonely because the two concepts are very different. To be alone, especially of choice, suggests a certain degree of confidence, self sufficiency, resilience, independence, and a liking for one's own company, and that is the basis for any relationship anyway - to be happy with one's company and in one's skin. After all, if we cannot stand to be by ourselves for any length of time, why on earth should anyone want to spend any time with us?
To be lonely suggests a dependency on the presence of others to make us feel better, to validate us or to give us a feeling of value and worth. It is generally a FEELING of isolation, unhappiness, neglect and exclusion. Notice the emphasis on the word 'feeling' because we are the ones who actually dictate the degree of loneliness felt by our thoughts and expectations. We feel loneliness depending on our emotional state of need or independence.
For example, as a writer I choose to be alone because I love the creativity allowed me by the solitude I enjoy. I cannot write with distractions and so thoroughly enjoy my own company. But not 100% of the time. It also means that spending so much time alone, I can appreciate even more the company of someone else when I get the time to enjoy it. There are, of course, times when I do feel lonely because I would appreciate the company of another perhaps for some conversation, or even a hug. We are all human. But that would be no more than 10 percent of my time because the other times I am too busy, or I relish the lifestyle I am able to lead unhindered by the demands of someone else.
So I can cope with that momentary loneliness because it is a natural part of the choices I make, especially if I am an empathetic person and wish to give that love to someone else too. In effect, we are all lonely, or alone, at some time or other. The real litmus test of the one that applies to us is the degree to which we experience either of those states.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads.