“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”
The sacred space of solitude truly is a wonderful place to be for introverts.
Until it’s not.
Often, there comes a time when our delicious alone transforms into an unwelcome feeling of loneliness. The problem is that for introverts, loneliness can sneak up on us without our realizing it. It hides just beneath the guazy first layer of alone, and seeps to the surface at the most inconvenient times.
Today, during a group coaching webcast with my Mastermind members, I discussed how introverts can avoid unpleasant feelings of loneliness, while still enjoying our solitude. Here are some of the tips I shared:
The ultimate cure for loneliness
Simply being around other people is not the cure for loneliness. For many introverts, being in a crowded room of strangers and acquaintances can leave us feeling more alone than if we were actually by ourselves.
We let very few people into our small inner circle, but we are fiercely loyal to those who’ve made the cut. Ultimately, when we feel loneliness creeping in, we are not looking for social interaction with just anyone; what we really want and absolutely need is intimacy.
Dictionary.com defines intimacy in this way:
“A close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person.”
Loneliness is a sign that we are starving for intimate relationships that involve a deeper connection of the mind and spirit.
The types of interactions we have with most coworkers, acquaintances and strangers are nowhere near as fulfilling as the familiar and affectionate relationships referred to in the above definition of intimacy.
Intimate relationships are not a “quick fix” solution to the sudden pangs of loneliness. They are a long haul investment in a richer more meaningful life.
So, how can introverts invite more intimacy into our lives, and prevent those utterly alone and lonely moments before they occur?
Find the protectors of your solitude
“The highest form of love is to be the protector of another person’s solitude.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without offering you company.” His words are especially relevant for introverts, who need and cherish solitude.
If we’re only going to have a few intimate relationships, why would we choose people who don’t respect our need for solitude, and also don’t add value to our lives?
Consider the words of Hans F Hansen: “People inspire you, or they drain you. PICK THEM WISELY.” Wouldn’t it be nice to be with someone who respects, and even protects, your solitude instead of constantly pressuring you to “come out of your shell”? Better yet, wouldn’t it be refreshing to be with someone with whom you can quietly share your sacred space of solitude?
Plant seeds of intimacy
“’It won’t flower when you want it to,’ Mami said. ‘Keep taking care of it and you’ll see. One day it will surprise you.’” ~When I Was A Puerto Rican, Esmeralda Santiago
When you plant seeds of intimacy before feelings of loneliness set in, they are more likely to blossom just when you need them to. There a few ways that you can do this:
- Choose a time when your introvert energy levels are at their peek to meet new people who you could possibly have a deeper connection with
- Instead of always waiting for other people to make the first move, put out a few invitations to individuals who you find interesting. Even if they decline your invite, they are much more likely to contact you in the future.
- Be open. You can be very open and still be introverted. In this case, openness refers to being in a space of non-judgement, letting go of how your ideal friend ‘should’ look, and opening your eyes to the special people who are already in your life.
Be intimate with yourself
You’ve probably noticed already that it is very difficult to establish intimacy with a person who is disconnected from his or her inner essence, intuition, and emotions. Don’t be that person. Embrace your innate love of introspection and reflection. Take the time to get in tune with your true emotions, and practice expressing them in healthy ways. This will help you to attract and nurture more intimate relationships with other people.
If you want to learn the steps to go from boring meet and greet to more meaningful relationships, grab my 50-page Introvert Connection Guide – it’s free!
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with loneliness and intimacy. Please feel free to share in the comments section!