It is said that those who prefer to be alone have particularly unique personality traits. There may be more, but here are some. For a start, not everyone can be outgoing. Some of us prefer to be alone, and that’s fine too. Research does show there are so many reasons why being alone (and liking it!) isn’t such a bad thing.
Every individual has a variety of ideas, characteristics, perspectives and preferences unique to them. Some, a bit like me, can have a difficult time finding common ground with certain ‘outgoing’ individuals who come across as the life of the party, natural-born leaders, always wanting the spotlight types. It might be because you can’t relate to them, as not every person enjoys having the attention solely on them or feels the most comfortable in a group setting. There are some who prefer to have more intimate conversations or deeper relationships and aren’t able to find that with many people. If you’re someone who finds yourself avoiding large crowds or group settings and feel most comfortable when you’re alone with your own thoughts, you might be something of an introvert. The problem with being an introvert is we are presently living in a society that promotes opening our lives to others, no matter how it may be through outlets such as social media. Introverts are often thought of as having stereotypical ways and are therefore misunderstood by others, making it hard for them to see their nature as something positive. However research shows that these stereotypes aren’t accurate. People who prefer to be alone may be introverted, but the negative connotations associated with being introverted are far from the truth. People who can appreciate and enjoy being alone actually possess a strength, confidence, and understanding of themselves that extroverts might not possess. Often this ability to enjoy being alone is actually because they have a better sense of self. There are times when we are made to feel like being alone is weird or wrong. Society projects the idea that the ‘average’ or ‘normal’ person should want to socialise, be around people and make as many friends as possible and this is a common perception reinforced by society. For those who do enjoy simply being alone, maybe even more so than being around people, this lack of desire to socialise or build multiple relationships can become confusing for not only them but the people around them. So although socialising can be important, and relationships can be healthy and beneficial, there are a number of benefits and personality traits people who enjoy being alone also gain by taking that extra time for themselves. So here are some reasons why wanting to be alone can actually be good for you.
For a start, it can provide increased emotional strength. People who like to be alone are better able to accept, understand and identify their emotions because they spend more time observing and evaluating their own thoughts and feelings. Because they have taken this extra time to understand their emotions, they have a better sense of how to deal and manage them. Having this ability to better understand, handle and channel their emotions in a positive way is not only empowering, but it is also a sense of strength that many don’t take the time to create and build upon. They are naturally empathetic and studies suggest that people who prefer to be alone are more in touch with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of others around them, making them more empathetic. This awareness of the emotions of others as well as their own allows them to not only empathise but show more compassion for those around them. Empathetic people are able to identify, acknowledge and experience the feelings of others, which can increase their sensitivity towards other human beings and allow them to care about people on more than just a surface level. One aspect I have noticed is having a strong moral compass, as those who prefer to spend time alone often have a better understanding of what they consider right and wrong. This is because they have taken the time to analyse and determine their perspectives and moral beliefs, so their moral compass is more developed than those affected and shaped by the opinions of others. This definitive moral compass also makes it easier for them to make decisions and be satisfied with the decisions they make. There is also an element of open-mindedness. Even though some people would assume introverts are more likely to be close-minded because they’re not as affected or exposed to the opinions of others, many people who prefer solitude are actually very open to new experiences and different perspectives. People who enjoy spending time alone don’t automatically have a mind closed off to the ways of the world around them, they just choose to gather a better understanding of the world in different ways that suit their personality. Then there isn’t the need for acceptance of our peers to the degree that other characters seem to have. Considering how our modern society is so influenced by the internet and social media, feeling like we have gained the respect of our peers can become an overwhelming need and some will do almost anything to satisfy that need. Popularity and acceptance have become one of the most pressing concepts we associate with success, and this can be a harmful measure of success to live by, particularly for our mental health. However, those who prefer to be alone feel this need less than those who get satisfaction out of attention and socialising because they have taken the time to get to know and understand their own sense of self. Because they have a better understanding of who they are, they are better able to separate their self-worth from the views of others. Associated with that is an admittance of their flaws. People who prefer to be alone are more likely to be comfortable with this and are more in-tune and comfortable with the fact that they are imperfect beings. This goes back to the sense of self they gain from being comfortable with themselves and with being alone. Being able to own up to our flaws and faults is an important step towards positive personal growth. Some do say that they prefer the company of other intellectual people. I’m not too sure on that point, but I will admit that I do not bother with what I consider to be ‘idle gossip’. Whilst working in an office some years ago I heard two people talking animatedly about someone who was apparently very ill, so unusually for me I politely enquired whether the person who was ill also worked at the same firm. I learned that these two were in fact talking about a character in the tv series ‘Coronation Street’ – but they were behaving as if the character was a real person! It takes all sorts to make a world. So being comfortable with being alone allows many introverts to be more selective about who they choose to spend their time with. Because they don’t feel a constant or incessant need to be around many people, they value their time and can be more selective of how they choose to spend it. This is because they know that with or without the company of others, they’d be fine either way. As a result, many people who prefer to be alone are more likely to be uninterested in small talk or meaningless conversation and prefer people who match them intellectually and have more challenging conversations. Such people who prefer to spend time on their own also understand the true value of time, an asset in our lives that many overlook or overshadow when among others. Not only do they value their own time, but they usually have more respect for the value and time of others.
Another aspect I have found to be true is that people who prefer to be alone are more in-tune with their gut feelings and they trust them. Since they spend more time getting to know themselves, they are better able to understand, recognise and tap into their intuition and ultimately trust it. In addition, they are highly loyal, because they are more selective about who they spend their time with. They still understand the value of friendship, they’re just more selective about who those friends are. But fewer friends usually means that it is easier to value and stay loyal to those friends. That said, they are independent souls. They have made a more defined line of when to reach out to others for help and when to depend on themselves. This line distinguishes between connecting with others and their actual dependence. Learning to face the world on their own, people who enjoy their own company don’t need people as much as they choose to have them around. They also, generally at least, have well thought-out opinions on the world. A misconception often associated with those that prefer to be alone is that they are more likely to come off as being indifferent to outside or worldly matters, but that is not the case. Actually, they’ve probably spent more time sitting back and assessing the world and have developed incredibly strong and well-thought-out opinions, but they just don’t always choose to share them. Which means that they can spend a great deal of time with their own thoughts, creating and developing a level of self-awareness incomparable to others. With this self-awareness, by stepping back and looking at the world around them and becoming more empathetic individuals, people that like to be alone are able to see the world from a kinder perspective, one that is more in-tune to the needs of those around them. This allows them to act on their compassion. They respect healthy boundaries and understand the importance of these clear, healthy boundaries to the benefit of both themselves and those around them. Interestingly they are courageous too, because they are comfortable with themselves so are not afraid to stand up alone in the world, a form of courage not many possess. Their confidence can be confusing or off-putting to others, but is ultimately admirable. They’re less likely to feel defeated, give up or back down. Added to this, their awareness and ability to focus allows independent individuals to analyse a situation with a calm, rational, level-headed mindset and efficiently find a solution. Another aspect of such people is that those who prefer to be alone place a higher value on the importance of finding the right person, because they’re not afraid of being single. They don’t waste time dating for the sake of company. If they are dating someone it is because they see the potential. They also have a strong idea of what they’re looking for in a partner and will hold out until they find that person that fits their criteria. Leading on from that, they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, as people who have a better understanding of themselves are less likely to be ignorant to their weaknesses, and less likely to feel the need to compensate for them by exaggerating their strengths. It has been said by many that being honest with yourself as to what your strengths and weaknesses are is crucial to your personal development. You should also find that they are highly reliable. If they give their word that they are going to do something for you, they will follow it through. They don’t volunteer their time for just anything so if they commit to something they will place value on that commitment. So perhaps being alone isn’t so bad after all…
This week… memories
Many years ago, when I was but a lad, we would go on holiday as a family to North Devon. My mother’s family came from Truro and I knew that we had elderly relatives in Plymouth. We would visit them whilst on holiday and one year my parents and I were invited to a celebration arranged by some friends for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. I would have been about thirteen. We first visited our elderly relatives and whilst there I was told to put on a clean shirt and tie for the occasion. So there I was, putting on my tie and one of our relatives, an elderly ‘maiden aunt’ I suppose would be the correct term, saw me doing this and commented “Ooh, I’ve never seen a man get dressed before!” That aunt always seemed the quiet one, but she taught me much about gentle, good-natured humour!