Being Alone Can Be Good for Your Mental Health - Deepstash
Being Alone Can Be Good for Your Mental Health

Being Alone Can Be Good for Your Mental Health

theatlantic.com

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Therapeutic Nature Of Solitude

Therapeutic Nature Of Solitude

This is especially true in times of personal turbulence, when the instinct is often for people to reach outside of themselves for support. “When people are experiencing crisis it’s not always just about you: It’s about how you are in society,” explains Jack Fong, a sociologist at California State Polytechnic University who has studied solitude. “When people take these moments to explore their solitude, not only will they be forced to confront who they are, they just might learn a little bit about how to out-maneuver some of the toxicity that surrounds them in a social setting.”

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Surrender And Catch Theory Of Personal Epiphany

Surrender And Catch Theory Of Personal Epiphany

Fong developed this idea from the late German-American sociologist Kurt Wolff’s “surrender and catch” theory of personal epiphany. “When you have these moments, don't fight it. Accept it for what it is. Let it emerge calmly and truthfully and don't resist it,” Fong says. “Your alone time should not be something that you're afraid of.”

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Productive Solitude And Relationship with Yourself

Productive solitude requires internal exploration, a kind of labor which can be uncomfortable, even excruciating. “It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has, the relationship you have with yourself.”

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Productive Solitude

Productive solitude requires internal exploration, a kind of labor which can be uncomfortable, even excruciating. “It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has, the relationship you have with yourself.”

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Group Identity Markers

Group Identity Markers

“We’re drawn to identity-markers and to groups that help us define [ourselves]. In the simplest terms, this means using others to fill out our identities, rather than relying on something internal, something that comes from within,” Bowker says. “

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Self-Strengthening Solitude

Such a separation requires what psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott called the “capacity to be alone.” This is key to Bowker’s idea of solitude as self-strengthening. “You have to have that capacity: the ability to know that you’re gonna survive, that you’re gonna be okay if you’re not supported by this group,” Bowker says. “Put another way, a person who can find a rich self-experience in a solitary state is far less likely to feel lonely when alone.”

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Conditions Of Beneficial Solitude

For solitude to be beneficial, certain preconditions must be met. Kenneth Rubin, a developmental psychologist at the University of Maryland, calls them the “ifs.” Solitude can be productive only: if it is voluntary, if one can regulate one’s emotions “effectively,” if one can join a social group when desired, and if one can maintain positive relationships outside of it. When such conditions aren’t met, yes, solitude can be harmful.

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Teacher Within

The only real teacher is not in a forest, or a hut or an ice cave in the Himalayas,” he once remarked. “It is within us.” One imagines him reaching the conclusion alone.

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CURATED BY

I often feel lonely when I'm in groups and face an ongoing existential crisis. This article has affirmed some perspectives and gave me new ones to mull over.

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