Why do guys need to be alone sometimes? That’s an important question if you want to go deeper into what makes you tick. Too many men our age go through live without thinking, without being mindful of what they’re doing or going.
That’s why it’s important to get out of that rut of:
You need to get out of that place and into your own head. No distractions, no beeps or notifications. Just you. Nothing else.
The Time I Wanted to Run
I’ve only felt the urge to run once. My son had just been born and my wife seemed to be in state of shock. I could see the door out of a corner of my eye, calling me, beckoning me. Running seemed like an option worth considering.
All at once I started to identify with Dads who do a ‘runner’ when the kid is born. I’m not condoning it. But I do get it.
What is this urge that we men feel just to be on our own sometimes – to break free from the connectedness and busyness of life?
To be away from our partners, our families. Even our kids. And how can you harness that urge for good. And turn it into something positive that builds you up and refreshes you, keeping you one step ahead of burnout.
Ever Feel Like You Need to Just Be Alone?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve liked being alone. At least for a time. I’m a very extroverted person and enjoy being with lots of people all at the same time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need that valuable space to just ‘be’.
Sometimes you just to be alone. Alone in deed, thought and environment. But is there any science behind this and how do you express your solitude in a positive way.
The health benefits of being alone are unclear. The closest I could find to a positive benefit was that ‘it depends on the individual’.
One researcher who has looked into the power of solitude is a Matthew Bowker who said this about productive solitude:
It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has, the relationship you have with yourself.
When was the last time you experienced that? Therelationship you have with yourself?
Imagine if you could retire to a place of solitude and quiet – disconnected from life for a few short hours. Would you feel better or worse?
My extrovert mind works a hundred miles an hour. I need that space alone to process, decompress and be re-energised.
Some of the greatest minds ever have retreated to places of solitude, often mountains, to think and meditate. Examples include Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao-Tzu and Nietzsche.
Wordsworth wrote his best poetry after a long walk alone in the English countryside. Ask yourself this: Do I need some time alone so that I can come back and be at my best.
How to Be Alone
What does ‘alone’ look like? Here’s what it means to me:
Alone means on your own. No other people. Pets are allowed as long as they aren’t a distraction.
Alone means outside. I can’t imagine having quality alone time cooped up in doors. I need space to breathe and experience life.
Alone means disconnected. You can never be truly alone as long as you’re connected to the World Wide Web. Switch your phone off and disconnect completely with the world.
The best place I can think of to find real solitude is a mountain. Mountains are deeply spiritual places. There are records of even the most atheistic climbers having spiritual experiences out on the hills.
A few weeks ago I packed up my tent, a bit of food, a map and headed for the hills. I spent all day on the mountainside and camped in a peaceful valley by a stream.
It wasn’t the most comfortable night but it was quiet, simple and disconnected. Returning to normality I felt ready to take on the various challenges of life, work and family.
If you don’t have access to mountains then find somewhere suitably lonely. The public park probably isn’t going to cut it. I do my best thinking climbing a hill but you might be better off staring at the clouds or even chopping wood.
Be Alone but Don’t Be Lonely
There’s a drawback with entering Monk Mode. Loneliness. If you have wife, children then don’t cut them off.
Yes, you need to retire to the mountains every now and then (or wherever you need to go), but not at the expense of your ties with them.
You do need a woman in your life who understands your need to be alone sometimes. If you have one of them, treasure her. If you don’t, have her read this article.
You have a responsibility for your own mental health as well as being primed to help your fellow man. Taking preventative steps now to de-stress and decompress is more valuable (and effective) than a pill further down the line.
We live in a time when men and boys aren’t supposed to express their ‘maleness’ in any way.
But striking out on your own is inherently male. That’s why you have an urge to do it. We’re not meant to sit about the house like lap dogs. Your male energy drives you to be active, to seek and explore.
So go and do it.
P.S. There’s a whole section of my book A Father’s Mission devoted to the power of the outdoors. Get it here (Amazon).