View profile

The Good and Bad of Being Alone

The Good and Bad of Being Alone
Sometimes, I think there is something wrong with me.
Because I like being alone.
I crave alone time.
Still, I thought that it was a bad thing for the longest time.
But what I had to do was break down and dissect why I was feeling that way.
Being alone is not automatically a bad thing.
It depends on the context.
In this issue, you’ll learn to look at both sides of the being alone coin.

Being Alone - The Good
First things first, being alone is not automatically bad. Yes, some people need more alone time than others, but that mainly comes down to an issue of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re getting to see who the true extroverts really are. It’s actually been a nice reprieve for someone like me, who falls just to the left of center on the introvert-extrovert scale. It has given me plenty of space to think, to write, and to recharge my batteries during this trying time.
And this is the point that I’m getting at–being alone, and understanding if it’s good or bad for you, depends on the context.
Life is context. If you’ve just spent 5 days straight hanging out with family at a reunion, you might want to get away for a bit–and that’s totally fine. If you just presented at a conference to 200 people and spent two hours answering questions, it’s normal to want to steal away for a bit to collect your thoughts. Context is everything.
Plus, learning to be alone is critical to maintaining your mental health. The simple reality is that, as you get older, you’re not going to be able to find people to attach yourself to every hour of every day–nor should you want to. Being alone is how you discover who you truly are. If you’re always defining yourself in relation to other people, it’s easy to confuse their dreams with your dreams, their goals and ideas with your goals and ideas.
Being alone is how you find yourself.
Being Alone - The Not So Good
But being alone also has its mental health drawbacks. It’s very easy to forget that mental health is not just a personal issue–there is an incredibly important social component to it.
Here’s the truth: we know our mental health in relation to others. What is considered healthy? What is normal? What is the culture of our area?
And to go back to the idea of context, so much context is wrapped up in our relationships with others. One of the primary ways that we learn about the world is through our relationships. And, perhaps most important, most healing happens through relationships.
Being alone all the time would prevent you from getting important support and feedback from your world.
How to Know If You Need to Be Alone
We’ve looked at the good and a bit of the bad. Next up is to figure out what you need from life.
And so we return to what is quickly becoming the word of the day: context!
Think about context in these ways:
  • Emotional Context
  • Mental Context
  • Physical Context
  • Societal Context
  • Family Context
The list could go on and on, but these terms cover the basics. For the most part, they are self-explanatory, but I’ll go over the key points.
You may remember context clues when you were first learning how to read in school. You need to look at all the words in a sentence–and the words in the sentences around any one sentence–to figure out the meaning of the content.
The same is true for your life and your happiness. What you need at any given time depends on the context of the world around you. For instance, do you have family obligations? Are you caring for a young child? Do you support others in the community who are less well off than you are? Then it may not be the best idea to spend hours and hours alone.
But wait. What is your body telling you, though? Are you absolutely worn out? So tired that you can’t even lift your head up? That would suggest that you need to have a conversation with the people around you to figure out how you can get the space to recharge. The many types of context supply the data for your life. It’s a scientific way to look at mental health, something that is often difficult to quantify.
I’m turning this over to you now.
Start with the above list of mental health context clues. Add terms of your own. You know your life best, and you know what kind of context is important to consider. This is just a start, but if you begin to look at your life in this systematic way, you’ll find that you solve your problems much faster. To be more specific, you’ll start to understand what it means to be alone and if being alone is good or bad for you.
For me, I learned years ago that I needed more alone time than I was getting. I didn’t need to be the center of attention. I didn’t need to try to make people laugh all the time. Being alone is where I found myself, my voice, and the gifts I have to share with the world.
So take this baton and run with it.
To know if being alone is good or bad, always consider the context.
Thanks for reading. Did this stir up some thoughts? Let me know!
P.S. You made it down here, you superfan you. So here’s a gift. Here’s a poem about being alone from my new book. I hope you like it.
The Heat of My Own Fire
I think I know
why I wanted you to love me
I wanted your love
to fill the hole
that I had carved in my own heart
I wanted your warmth
to burn me alive
to engulf me
to show me who I am
through hot disintegration
I wanted your touch
to desensitize me
And I wanted your breath
to breathe for me
Because I was scared
that if I did it on my own
that no one would like me
that no one would want me
that there wouldn’t even be a me
to love
You know me now
You know my mind
doesn’t plod along
it gallops
it zigs
where it should zag
It falls apart
into the most beautiful mess
I see that now
Because I see me now
I see
why I wanted you to love me
I thought
I needed to find love
outside of me
But all along
it waited for me
to stop my endless search
and just sit down
to the heat of my own fire
so that I could rest and warm my hands
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jordan Brown - Mental Health Newsletter Writer, Poet, Social Worker, and Advocate

The Mental Health Update Mental Health Newsletter provides you with authentic mental health articles that make mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and OCD meaningful AND accessible.

This is different from typical mental health newsletters and articles about mental health challenges.

It's not just an Anxiety Email Newsletter or a Depression Email Newsletter - It's two weekly articles packed with timeless mental health wisdom and inspiration to start your day in a thoughtful, uplifting way.

I was tired of other "mental health care" newsletters blasting out generic lists of links and depression articles.

And I was especially tired of them not focusing on the everyday reality of mental health issues.

So I decided to come up with something I wanted to read.

This health newsletter is like a caring friend that just wants you to feel better.

Mental health awareness articles don't need to be all doom and gloom and filled with jargon.

With The Mental Health Update, you'll get practical mental health information, tips, and new ways to view the world. Especially now, with people reeling from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, we need trusted voices telling it like it is.

We discuss topics like anxiety, depression, OCD, the mental health to mental illness spectrum, social and communication skills, and much, much more.

This is what a few subscribers had to say about The Mental Health Update:

"If you haven't yet subscribed to Jordan's mental health newsletter, you absolutely should. It's chock full of good stuff to read and will help make your day better. Not unlike a daily vitamin for your mental health and soul..." - JR

"Encouragement from someone who has “been there” when it comes to mental health struggles. Comes in the form of stories and simple, actionable tips for reframing and working with - and through - your issues. One of the few newsletters that has survived my ruthless inbox decluttering sprees. Highly recommended!" - Kelila

"Jordan's mental health update is a welcomed email in my inbox. It often provides me with a chance to break from the mundane tasks of working in an office and take a moment for myself to hear his thoughtful and well put together thoughts on many aspects of mental health. As someone who works in the psychology field it's often a nice reminder and way of grounding myself to all the great work that's going on and the journey we all must take in supporting mental health. Thank you Jordan!" - Rob

I take my no-spam policy very seriously. I consider it a mental health obligation to not abuse your trust or raise your anxiety.

Newsletter articles sent on Tuesday and Thursday.

If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
Missoula, MT