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How do you describe the difference between alone and lonely?

Theater MasksAlthough Thesaurus describes “alone” as a synonym for “lonely” and vice versus, I believe they are more than synonymous. I liked Chelsea Fagan’s approach to the difference as described in a brief excerpt below.

“Alone is calm. Alone is listening to the things you have to say to yourself, giving time to the more important reflections that you often allow to settle in the back of your mind like a fine dust swept under a rug.”

“Lonely is allowing freedom from judgment to take root in your life, to become a reason to let things go. It is losing perspective of other people to the point that your entire world narrows down to you and exactly what you’re doing in that moment.”[1]

I approach both adjectives based on my experience. In the name of full disclosure, I am alone. I call myself “singular”. I have been this way legally since 2004. I was in love with the man I married for twenty years. He was my best friend. We could finish one another’s sentences; until there was nothing left to talk about. I was conflicted because I believed marriage was forever. I didn’t know  my marriage had a “use by” date.

At first I felt lonely because there was a lot of empty in my space. Then I felt lonely because the silence was so loud. Then I felt lonely because I thought that was how I was supposed to feel. In my singleness it seemed society assigned by gender the adjectives alone and lonely. A man was alone because he wanted to be and that was just fine. A singular woman had to be lonely and probably needed a cat. I didn’t want a cat and I was bored with lonely. So I dumped lonely in a place called non- productive relational feelings.

Then I moved from my heart to my head. There I discovered that alone also had attributes and possibilities that were good and positive. They included, “unequaled”, “unique”, “exclusively” and “unparalleled”. Apparently I had freedom of choice of who and how I would be and feel. With that truth lighting my way I began to heal. It was not easy. It was a process and not an event. People and seasons came and went. Daily I wore grace and mercy accessorized by faith. I began to say YES to the power within me. I began to dream bigger, demand better — and make braver choices.

I quit my relationship with the guilt and shame of my divorce. And yes on occasion lonely stopped by. I allowed her limited access because I could handle her as a transitional visitor. I had evolved into intentionally living a purpose-filled life. I modeled behavior for others on how to positively treat me in a relationship. I found my laughter and caught up with my worthiness. I live there now.

So, have you ever been lonely or alone?  What did you do while you were there?  Any advice or questions for our readers? Join the conversation. You are important!


    Until next time, remember,
  • You are not alone.
  • You are not your circumstances.
  • You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.

is a best selling author, Breakthrough Speaker and Spiritual coach. She has spent the last fifteen years mentoring and coaching those needing direction and support in the areas of life skills, leadership development, effective and efficient communications, and improved self-image. Connect with Tyra to get the support and help you need. Contact Info: Tyra Garlington Email: For Bookings and Inquiries: (813) 994-9462 As a Breakthrough Coach, Spiritual Coach and Christian Coach, Tyra offers a variety of breakthrough services including but not limited to: Personal Empowerment Coach :: Spiritual Coaching :: Breakthrough Coaching :: Christian Speaker :: Professional Speaker :: Breakthrough Speaker :: Personal Empowerment Speaker

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