In Search of Solitude by James Mapes

Solitude“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”
-May Sarton (1912-1995), American Poet and novelist.

Solitude is a rare but necessary commodity in today’s hyper-connected world. Whether you are aware of it or not, everyone needs a bit of alone time for their mental health and emotional growth. It is often in those solitary moments that we think deeply, reach insights, effectively problem solve, unwind and appreciate.

Those in relationships often have a challenge carving out a piece of time for reflection. Here are a few thoughts that will help you in your search for solitude.

A healthy relationship honors the three parts: you, your partner and both of you together – the third person. In order to flourish, all three need space and an opportunity to grow.

If your partner or spouse want some alone time, don’t take it personally.

I’ve worked with couples where the issue of having time alone is a major barrier to having an exceptional relationship. As an example: Kevin did not want to be out of the presence of Alison for more than short periods of time. He is a worrier. Alison didn’t have the same rules; as a result, she felt closed in and trapped. Fearful of speaking the truth and hurting his feelings, Alison suffered in silence. Once the truth was out in the open, both were able to work out an agreement that satisfied the “third person.”

While the underlying reason for suffocating behavior may be the fear of abandonment or rejection, the result is the same. The person feeling trapped often builds up guilt or resentment.

When a relationship is based on fear or control, the outcome can only be negative. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a great deal of your time with your partner. It only becomes destructive when needs are not in sync, and the truth has not been spoken. It takes courage to tell your partner the truth, but an open dialogue is the only way to work out a compromise.

When you have the space and freedom to explore and grow as an individual, you bring new vitality and energy to the partnership. You also nurture the “third person” of a relationship by empowering each other to have the space to grow. This can only happen if you have absolute and complete trust in your partner and speak the truth about what you want and need.

Carving out space for alone time may mean isolating yourself for short periods, going on a mini-trip by yourself or….

1. Turning off your cell phone and any other distractions.

2. Getting up early and using the time to meditate, create or problem-solve. Perhaps that involves arriving at work early – before anyone else appears.

3. Scheduling time to be alone. When you go to the post office or shop, add a little bit of time just for you.

4. Taking advantage of your lunch break, even if it’s only a couple times a week. This is your personal respite. Think out-of-the-box and take a walk by yourself or sit in solitude in a park.

5. When all else fails, close the door for a few minutes – and let others know you are unavailable for ten minutes. It works.

James Mapes is an author and speaker.