Willingness to Experience Aloneness

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by Melissa J. Johnson, Ph.D.

Willing to experience aloneness, I discover connection everywhere….
– Jennifer Paine Welwood

As I reflect on what Mental Health Awareness Month means in this COVID-19 year, these words have special meaning. “Willing to experience aloneness” – wow, really?!? That’s a tough thing to do in such a lonely and isolating time. We are physically separate from others.  Even those living in a house full of people can be experiencing aloneness and disconnection. So what does it mean to be willing to experience aloneness? I’m reminded of the skill, Radical Acceptance, from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). To put it bluntly, practicing Radical Acceptance means that we stop fighting reality. We turn toward our current reality with openness and willingness. That may be painful. And hard. Really hard! And it might also open the door to unexpected connections. Ask yourself, where have you experiencing connection in your aloneness? It might be connecting with a pet, a piece of music, that outrageous moon that rose on Thursday night this week. It might be feeling a sense of shared humanity and compassion, watching the news of suffering around the world. It might be in a conversation with a friend or loved one that you’ve reached out to – or who has reached out to you. Notice these moments. Savor these moments. Amplify these moments. Discover connection everywhere you can. Our mental health depends on it.