July 24, 2023


Being alone and loneliness are two different animals. Alone time can be a demon or an angel. For those who have unresolved past traumas/ life events and insecurities, it is the former. It is a time where our thoughts and emotions can run unchecked and torment us until we resort to some unhealthy ground such as substances to numb or escape the pain. It is also a time for those of us that have insecurities to focus on many different unhealthy thoughts and emotions “spinning” in our heads. Or alone time can be an angel and a time we cherish in our busy lives. Which is it for you?

There are two adages that come to mind when thinking about alone time. The first is “Idle time is the devil’s workshop”, and the second is “The silence is deafening”. Both suggest negative and distorted thoughts. There are reasons the famous ones lean towards the negative, and those reasons suggest most people regard alone time as a dangerous or negative time. If it were not the case, we would remember positive adages about alone time.

I used to hate being alone. It was a time when my distorted thinking and insecurities would run rampant. Alone time is a true test of whether you are comfortable in your own skin. I surely was not before my traumatic event and certainly not after it. I would just go out 6 to 7 nights a week to avoid this darkness. The irony of the whole thing was I was more alone within the crowd and wished I never went out in the first place.

Since those dark days, I look back and “Shake My Head (SMH)” and smile. I now cherish and savor my “alone time.” It is now a period I need to “ground” myself and process the day’s events and put them to bed. It is now a time for me to process the thoughts, feelings, and actions of my present-day situations.

I believe many traumas/life events survivors go through this ordeal of avoiding alone time. Some will involve themselves with solving everyone else’s problems except their own. They will volunteer for every possible thing they can to avoid this alone time. Even those with families sometimes spend more time away than at home. Some will convince themselves that they need to give to others to heal, while languishing in their own pain.

Then there are those that choose the opposite and “isolate” themselves from the world believing that no one wants them around. This group deals “head on” with their distorted thinking that just further distorts their thinking. More irony.

In my Resolution Focused Therapy (RFT) treatment model, it is necessary to address the distorted thinking that torments life events survivors, or for that matter, clients who are insecure in their own skins.

Regardless of which way you manage “alone time,” know that one of the most important goals of past trauma/life events resolution is being comfortable with the “quiet”. It means you have put the past voices in your head to bed. Now you take this time for yourselves to regroup or settle the issues of the present time, not the unsettled past time.

This is just one self-test you can use to see how much progress you have made on your journey to trauma/life event resolution. Are you the help everybody except yourselves types? Or the I will stay away from people because they will not understand or do not want me around type? Either way, there is a middle where you can use “grounding” to help you process your pasts while still functioning in a “healthier” present. And one day your work will pay off and you will also start savoring the “alone time.”

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT