What is the Difference Between Solitude and Isolation?

 When we’ve been struggling with addiction and mental illness, we often will fall into patterns of isolating ourselves and avoiding any kind of social interaction and interpersonal connection. We’re afraid to confide in people lest they judge us more than we’re already judging ourselves. We’re afraid of being told to just get over our depression, or to just snap out of our addictive patterns. We don’t want to talk about how much pain we’re in. We may have confided in people in the past only to have our trust betrayed. We might have experienced loved ones’ minimizing and belittling our pain, showing us very clearly just how little they understand what we’re going through. It can be extremely painful not to have people who can relate to us and empathize with us, so to protect ourselves, we often will isolate ourselves. 

On the other hand, many of us will give ourselves much needed time for solitude and for personal rejuvenation that we can’t get when we’re always in the company of other people. We want to be able to have time to focus totally on ourselves and our healing. In this way, solitude is extremely beneficial. We can make time for self-care, for spiritual practice, for learning and personal development. We can reconnect with ourselves and gain a clearer understanding of who we are and what we need to heal. What is the difference between isolating ourselves and giving ourselves room for solitude?

Isolating ourselves often means we’re retreating inward, into our pain because we don’t feel safe in our relationships and in the outside world. We feel threatened, judged, shunned, rejected and ostracized. Solitude means we’re going inward to give ourselves the gift of self-reflection and nurturing. We’re caring for ourselves in an important way. Isolating can exacerbate our existing pain, while solitude can help ease it. When we learn how to be happy and at peace within ourselves, how to feel grounded and whole on our own, we develop an independence that allows us to be able to stand firm in our own relationship with ourselves. Isolating ourselves can do the opposite. It can disempower us because we’re often more focused on our pain when we’re in isolation than we are on our healing. Furthermore, isolating ourselves can bring us further and further away from our loved ones, while solitude can strengthen our sense of self and our self-worth which can make our relationships that much healthier. 

Your new life starts today. Let Riverside Recovery be your support system as you do the work to heal. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our addiction recovery treatment programs.