In this article, I want to help you adopt a more powerful mindset when it comes to dealing with solitude and loneliness. Everyone inevitably faces times of loneliness/solitude to varying degrees. I believe that there are many powerful lessons to be found by learning how to be alone.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ― Blaise Pascal, Pensées
In a recent study , some interesting results were recorded:
“Nowadays, we enjoy any number of inexpensive and readily accessible stimuli, be they books, videos, or social media. We need never be alone, with no one to talk to and nothing to do. Wilson explored the state of being alone with one’s thoughts and found that it appears to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, many of the people studied, particularly the men chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than be deprived of external sensory stimuli.”
Growing up I felt very lonely. My father was overseas and my mother was always at work. I had no brothers or sisters and all of my other relatives lived overseas.
I had one grandmother but she isolated herself from everyone she loved because she wasn’t very forgiving and tended to hold grudges. I still loved her though but barely saw her. For the most part, I grew up around babysitters who switched up every year or so, one of which was a 17-year old Eastern European girl who tried to kiss me and succeeded.
The pain was there. On top of that I grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly Jewish and I wasn’t Jewish so I never felt like I fit in. In my neighborhood, the first question kids would ask each-other before meeting was “Are you jewish?”. If yes, the bond was instantly there and if “no” then a separation occurred.
I’m not hear to cry about my past because there’s way worse out there but it definitely was quite a unique experience and forced me to get pretty acquainted with loneliness.
Although there was a lot of pain, I believe that there was also some gain. The gain I experienced occurred during the moments where I would have to use my imagination to entertain myself. I believe that during those moments of loneliness, I got to know myself a bit deeper than the average kid. I would think about my aspirations and dreams. I would imagine all types of scenarios.
From 11-14 years old, I lived with my father and he was in the movie business. Ironically, he didn’t let me watch TV. He only let me watch one movie per week which forced me to once again use my imagination. During that time, I got deep into graffiti art and would sneak out at 3 am to go tag up all types of places. This period of my life nurtured my rebellious, adrenaline-rush, and artistic side.
I believe that all of these experiences that involved loneliness, solitude, and boredom gave me a deeper connection to myself and forced me to become resourceful and creative.
The world is getting lonelier too as noted in this study:
“Modern life is making us lonelier, and recent research indicates that this may be the next biggest public health issue on par with obesity and substance abuse. A recent review of studies indicates that loneliness increases mortality risk by 26%.”
There has been a huge increase in feelings of loneliness with technology and urbanization.
Loneliness didn’t just go away after my childhood. I experienced loneliness during adolescence and young adult-hood for short-to-long durations as well.
This was partly due to my logistics since I lived in a small town for quite some time. But in reality this was mostly due to the fact that I cut off most people from my life I considered losers and low-performers.
I cut off a great deal of people whom I felt would hold me back. Looking back, I think that it’s better to keep a few people around even if they are low-performers because isolation just isn’t good for you.
These days I don’t experience much loneliness anymore because I have roommates, live in a big city and have developed a social network with friends, women, brothers, and mentors.
A warrior walks alone
I just wanted to mention how when you decide to get on the path of impeccable self-mastery, personal development, and life optimization, it will be a lonely road for most of you.
That is why I say, “A warrior must be able to walk alone”. Not many people will want to join you on this beautiful path because they don’t see the point of subjecting themselves to that type of pressure.
They are content with superficial comfort and mediocrity. They are too addicted to instant gratification. For some of you, you will have to learn how to embrace the loneliness and cut off your negative influences. At least for a short period of time.
David Deida, solitude, and purpose.
Flow research and how people don’t know how to be alone but they’re missing a good opportunity for inner-complexity.
David Deida (author of a MUST read for men called “The Way of the Superior Man”) talks about the benefits of solitude.
“The most potent forms of masculine realignment involve both austerity and challenge. Go to the middle of the woods, by yourself, with only survival necessities. Nothing to read, nothing to do. Fast from food and don’t sleep for as long as possible. Challenge your attention with some practice, like chanting or ritual movement, so that your attention doesn’t drift or become balmy. Open yourself and wait. Do not cover your suffering. Do not quit before you fall through the hole of your fear and emerge with a vision of your true mission, the unique form of your living sacrifice. This kind of isolation and challenge is an extreme and potent form of masculine vision questing, but there are more common forms that are useful in everyday life. Spend time every day in solitude, with no distractions. Just sit, for ten minutes. No fidgeting, no channel surfing, no magazine thumbing. Just be, exactly as you are, not trying to change anything.”
According to David Deida, there are different types of solitudes and the longer and more extreme than the more potent. The shorter and daily solitudes are meant to just keep you on the edge and can be very potent as well. But the point here is that solitude isn’t always bad. As you can see here, solitude in some cases is extremely important especially for men.
There have been times in my life where I was feeling like my attention was very “balmy” and I wasn’t deeply connected to my purpose. I locked myself in a dark room and just sat there for hours and disconnected from all distractions. I also spend time in solitude everyday meditating and connecting to my personal ethos which has proved to be an EXTREMELY powerful practice.
Short-term Solution: Friend Groups
Invest in building and/or joining a social-circle in order to gain the benefits of social stimulation. Compromise on values and even discipline a little bit because it’s worth it. Eventually you can recruit like-minds.
Ultimate Solution: Meaningful Tribe
In the book “The Way of Men” Jack Donovan says, “The way of men is the way of the gang”.
Over the past few years, I have learned so much when it comes to tribe and masculinity. I always had this vision of a strong group of men whom I can call my brothers…my comrades.
I imagined a strong tribe of men who pushed each other and held each other accountable to the uttermost impeccable standard of discipline in all areas of life. At first, nobody really believed in my vision.
But overtime, I have proudly built the foundations for a tribe that is taking off little by little and I now have a few good men whom I can call my brothers.
Figure out what values you want your tribe to nurture, then go out and build one or join one!
Hint: Meetup.com is a good tool you can use.
The ultimate test: Alone in bed at night
Share my experience of how I overcame the solitude and grounded myself in my purpose.
Explain the uneasiness.
Mention tools like nature sounds.
Mention how ideally you would want someone there with you.
Do you ever lay alone in bed at night and feel this tension like something ain’t right with your life? Like this general feeling of unease. It’s a feeling that most readily fill in with some quick social media updates before bed or other forms of distraction such as masturbation.
But I invite you to radically accept the suffering you feel in those moments…Something in you changes when you fall asleep with no distractions or bad habits and sit in your suffering. It dissolves. But first you must go through it.
Solitude isn’t good in large doses. We’re social creatures. The ideal situation is to be part of a network or tribe that shares similar values and contributes to your development as a man both personally and professionally. However, that will take time to build so compromise a little bit here and there and go have a beer with some losers. Have fun and embrace it. It will be healthier than constantly being alone. But keep in mind your long term vision. Also don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Solitude can be an amazing tool for reconnecting to your purpose and MUST be done daily in short bursts and ideally for longer periods of time every few months/years. It is a powerful and potent tool for men to reconnect to their purpose in life.