Why can being alone sometimes feel uncomfortable, even “cringey”?
Get Used to You
Humans are social beings; we thrive in others’ company. Yet we also know that time spent alone is essential for our mental health. Even real extroverts need time alone to fully self-actualize. Interestingly, research has shown that extroverts and introverts don’t actually differ in the amount of enjoyment gained from solitude. Rather, their differences will come through in the amount of alone time each type needs. Becoming comfortable in your own company can give you the time and freedom to truly explore your own thoughts without the pressures and judgments that others may impose.
Why can being alone sometimes feel uncomfortable, even “cringey”? There could be many different factors such as:
Lack of experience in being alone: The sudden absence of social stimulation can leave people feeling detached/disconnected.
Distressing feelings and thoughts: Being alone and focusing inward can be difficult or even painful. It may lead people to engage in anxious or worry-based thoughts.
Social stigma: You may have been told that it’s socially off to take yourself out for lunch, or it may be seen as a form of antisocial behavior, or social rejection.
It’s important to remember that being alone doesn’t equal loneliness. Loneliness is marked by negative feelings of isolation and even rejection, while being alone involves finding freedom, inspiration, and rejuvenation in one’s own company. You don’t need to allocate huge chunks of time — think of the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, or walk around the block once or twice to start, and see how alone time helps refuel you, as you launch back into the myriad responsibilities and roles of a Jewish woman.
Abby Delouya, RMFT-CCC, CPTT is a licensed marriage and individual therapist with a specialty in trauma and addiction.
View from the Top
People are willing to spend a lot of time and effort to climb to the top of the mountain, only to realize that they’re actually only a tiny dot in a very expansive world. And while you’d think that would be a depressing reality, people say the view from a mountaintop is exhilarating, uplifting, breathtaking. The realization that you’re part of a very big world actually allows you to remove yourself from your self-absorption and to appreciate the wider beauty in the world. The opposite of this “top of the mountain” parallel is staying stuck at the “bottom of the mountain,” preoccupied with your latest selfie and blind to the beauty around you. As a rule, there is a correlation between a society’s self-absorption and the prevalence of depression. Keep your eye on the bigger picture, and the world will be an exhilarating, uplifting place to be.
Dina Schoonmaker has been teaching in Michlalah Jerusalem College for over 30 years. She gives women’s vaadim and lectures internationally on topics of personal development.
Sarah Rivka Kohn
Marriage Crisis Counselor
These are just some of the offers that have hit my inbox in the past few days. For just $799, I can train with the likes of Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk (whose work I greatly admire), Dr. Peter Levine (whose work has shaped many of us), Dr. Richard Schwartz (whose groundbreaking IFS theories helped many), or Dr. Sue Johnson (whose Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy techniques are fabulous), and receive some certificate to hang on my wall.
These training institutes are legally allowed to give anyone who took the class any certificate they like, as long as they don’t use words that are only allowed to be used by accredited institutions (so they can’t give you a certification in clinical counseling or social work).
There are other (unsolicited) emails that pop up in my inbox. Those are from all kinds of men and women offering three to six sessions of cure-alls. Stuck in a difficult marriage? This six-week course will change that. (They don’t tell you how or in what way.) Trauma keeping you trapped in negative thought patterns? Three sessions of this type of healing will give you more than 12 months in therapy. (This may not be untrue. We also don’t know the quality of the therapy they’re comparing it to, nor if the three sessions offer short-term or long-term reprieve.)
I hit delete pretty quickly on many of these, but that’s because I’m not in a vulnerable place, and I have a support system in place. These ads are sent because there are people who sign up. They’re the people who are in a vulnerable place and don’t have many options open to them.
Here’s the thing: Many of these practices may be great. Many of the practitioners may be wonderful. However, let the user beware: There is no body governing the practices, training, or supervision (or lack thereof) of any of the above. This means there’s no way to monitor practices nor outcome, and you’re entering into potentially dangerous territory.
Sarah Rivka Kohn is the founder and director of Zisel’s Links and Shlomie’s Club, an organization servicing children and teens who lost a parent.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 820)
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