Knowing the Difference Between Alone Time and Being Lonely

There is a distinct difference between being alone and being lonely. It is easy to confuse these two concepts. Many executives and business owners comment on how lonely they feel in their roles at times. There are times when they are unsure of how to handle situations. They feel they cannot always trust seniors or colleagues as these have their own agendas. As a result it becomes quite a lonely journey at times. So what is the difference between being alone and feeling lonely?


Feeling lonely is about feeling isolated or disconnected.  Feeling lonely is also about not feeling heard. Individuals who feel lonely will often comment that they feel like this even among a group of people or friends.

Loneliness often goes hand in hand with inner feelings of restlessness and turmoil.  Loneliness can entail experiencing a void in your life irrespective of what you do. Loneliness can lead to unhelpful behaviour or addictions: e.g. a constant need to be busy or to experience an adrenaline rush, being a workaholic with no outside interests, a constant need to be around people or to run your life as one project after the other.

For individuals in business loneliness often comes as a result of the personas they adopt in business: the need to always be seen as coping and being strong. There is typically also a need to watch out for the personal agendas or power games of seniors or colleagues. This means that executives and business owners are often on guard. As a result feelings of “disconnection” and loneliness can arise. Executives and business owners often are unable to be themselves and show their human side.

Alone Time

Creating alone time is a critical survival strategy in these unpredictable and pressurised times. Why?

When you create alone time, you create a space where you can just be yourself. It is a time to drop your masks. It is a time to experience freedom to connect with your true self. No, this is not just some esoteric concept. It is a true life saver: a time for reflection and just being who you are. It is a time to access your deepest desires, wishes and feelings. It is a time to take stock and assess where you are at in your life and if that is where you want to be.

In research I have conducted with executives and business owners, every one said that they never make time to think about their own lives, only about work. So alone time gives you the chance to think about yourself: your own path and your own life.

Alone time allows you to tune in to yourself: work out what you think, feel, want, desire.  Alone time allows for inner reflection and contemplation, away from external pressures of how the world and others want you to be. Alone time enables you to connect with the deepest parts of you, beyond all the personas you show the world.

Alone time enables you to work out what feeds your soul and inner being. What drives you in life? How do you feel about where you are? It allows you to take stock of the person you are or have become.

One of the biggest gifts alone time offers us, is being able to bask in the peace that solitude brings. It is in these expansive spaces where we experience some respite from the hectic pace of life. It is in these quiet times when we come to identify and grapple with the real issues in our lives. e.g our values, our contribution to leaving the world a better place, making more conscious decisions, living with greater moderation, listening to the call of our soul.

It is in these periods of alone time where we can just be with a question and suspend judgment or action. We create a space for something new to incubate.  It is in these times that we become aware of imbalances in our life that affect our emotional well-being, state of mind or significant relationships. Alone time can bring greater inner peace and contentment. It can also make you feel more connected to yourself and life and as a result, less lonely.

“Come sit down beside me

I said to myself,

And although it doesn’t make sense,

I held my own hand

As a small sign of trust

And together we sat on the fence.”          Michael Leunig.


Posted in Well-being.