Seclusion Together


The past 6 weeks have been quite an interesting set of events, and successive chain of circumstances. “Social distancing” is a term no one even knew until this past spring. We have all been instilled with some sort of fear, healthy respect, anger, or whatever emotion we have tied to the compartment of emotion hearing when STAY AT HOME!

Now, we take our individual situations, be it single and alone, or a house full of school-aged kids needing constant home-schooling, food, baths, rainy day entertainment…not to mention significant others at home more, routine changes, and working at home ourselves…we are each feeling the effects of being forced to stay at home.

So, what do we do with all of this? How do we all make this challenge productive?

“We cannot see things in perspective until we cease to hug them to our bosom,” Thomas Merton writes in Thoughts in Solitude. Basically, when people remove themselves from the social context of their lives, they are better able to see how they’re shaped by that context.

According to The Virtues of Isolation, under the right circumstances, choosing to spend time alone can be a huge psychological boon:

“Much of this ‘self-reconfiguring’ happens through what Fong calls ‘existentializing moments,’ mental flickers of clarity which can occur during inward-focused solitude. 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.’ “

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.”

Kenneth Rubin
Developmental Psychologist
University of Maryland

Solitude can be healthy for the mind. If one allows, seclusion can make you understand your plight in the universe, leading to an acceptance of what can or cannot be controlled. When the freedom of thought is embraced, rather than feared and compartmentalized, perspectives change.

There is beauty in the realization of the unknown.


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