Solitude Mapping

Keywords: solitude types, solitude choices, solitude and community, psychology of solitude, social psychology of solitude

Mapping Your Solitude

(PDF to download or print Solitude Mapping)

The following steps will sharpen your awareness about:

                              ● the types of solitude you experience

                              ● how you balance solitude and human community

 Step 1: Types of Solitude 

Directions: Please circle the types of solitude you experience: 

1. Solitude as Anonymity – Because you are alone, you may act in whatever ways you feel like at the moment, without concern for social niceties or what others might     think. 

 2. Solitude as Creativity – Being alone stimulates novel ideas or innovative ways of   expressing yourself, whether actually in art, poetry or intellectual pursuits, or whimsically in daydreaming with a purpose. 

 3. Solitude as Diversion – You fill the time alone by watching television, reading a book, surfing the internet, or engaging in other distracting activities. 

 4. Solitude as Inner Peace – While alone, you feel calm and relaxed free from the pressures of everyday life. 

 5. Solitude as Intimacy – Although alone, you feel especially close to someone you care about (for example, an absent friend or lover, or perhaps a deceased relative  such as a beloved grandparent); the absence of the person only strengthens your feeling of closeness. 

 6. Solitude as Loneliness – You feel self-conscious, anxious or depressed, you long for   interpersonal contact. 

7. Solitude as Problem Solving – Aloneness provides the opportunity to think about  specific problems or decisions you are facing and you attempt to come to some resolution. 

8. Solitude as Self Discovery – By focusing attention on yourself, you gain insight into   your fundamental values and goals and you come to realize your unique strengths and weaknesses. 

9. Solitude as Spirituality – While alone, you have a mystic–like experience, for example, a sense of transcending everyday concerns, of being a part of something grander than yourself:  Such experiences are sometimes interpreted within a religious context (e.g. as being close to God) but they also can be entirely secular (e.g. as being in harmony with a social or natural order). 

Adapted from Long, et. al (Univ. of Mass.) PSPB, Vol. 29 No. 5, May 2003 578-583.

 ● Please write the type(s) of solitude you feel most drawn to, the one you would most like to experience: _________________________________________. 

Step 2:

Your Patterns of Choice 

A. At this time in my life I would prefer to have:

                             a. more solitude.

                             b. more involvement with others.

                             c. other: _____________________________________________________

 B. I seem to keep about the right balance of time between solitude and being with others:

                              a. most of the time

                              b. rarely

                              c. other: _____________________________________________________

 C. Needing to choose between solitude and being with others leaves me feeling frustrated.

                            a. often

                            b. not often

                              c. other: _____________________________________________________

 D. I feel upset when I need to choose between solitude and being with others.

                             a. usually

                             b. not usually

                             c. other: _____________________________________________________

 E.  My everyday choices between solitude and being with others areinfluenced by feelings of shame or guilt.

                             a. often

                             b. not often

                             c. other: _____________________________________________________

F. My everyday choices between solitude and being with others are influenced by feelings of social pressures and expectations.

                             a. usually

                             b. not usually

                              c. other: _____________________________________________________

              ● After considering these questions, you may decide to work on re-balancing solitude and community.

Step 3: Balancing solitude and community (conclusions) 

1. What type(s) of solitude, listed in Step 1, would you go to some effort to experience? ________________________________________________________________________

 2. In what places, situations or conditions are you likely to find solitude? ________________________________________________________________________


 3. If you would like to find a better balance between solitude and community:

            A. What are some resources (internal and external) that you have for doing this?                 ___________________________________________________________________                ___________________________________________________________________

 B. What obstacles (internal and external)  make it difficult to do this? ___________________________________________________________________


 4. What would you need to do, on an everyday and long term basis, to create more solitude, or a better balance into your life?

               (Remember that re-balancing requires working things out with those around you, as kindly as possible. Others are affected when you shift your balance between solitude and community.)





 5. What is your next step?


Robert Smith, Ph. D., Aug.,2011, 

 NEXT: Saving the Solitude