Are you a person who looks forward to being alone and thrives on solitude, or one who feels anxious and uncomfortable at the mere thought of spending time alone?

Each of the four behavioral traits – Dominance, Extroversion, Patience and Structure – have their own needs for interacting with others, but where we fall on the Extroversion continuum explains the most about how comfortable we are regarding solitude. Those of us high in Extroversion probably struggle with spending time alone more than someone low in Extroversion.

Some philosophers make a distinction between DOING and BEING. Extroverts are doers; they engage in activities that draw attention to themselves because they consider this to be fun. They GET ENERGY from being around other people and being in the limelight.

Introverts, or people low in Extroversion, tend to dwell in their own thoughts. They BECOME DEPLETED by being around other people, and they need to recharge their inner battery by being alone.

Developing an Aptitude for Solitude
You can actually develop an aptitude for solitude, regardless of how high or low your Extroversion trait normally is, simply by setting your mind to it. Here are a few approaches you might like to try.

Start taking baby steps toward conquering your fear of solitude. If it’s an overwhelming, desperate sort of fear, get some professional help. Otherwise, start setting up some small challenges for yourself, to coax yourself through the fear.

Have you ever had dinner alone in a restaurant? If not, give it a try. Have you ever been to a movie alone? If not, do that. Or how about taking a weekend trip on your own?

Set up dates with your inner self. How about a walk in the park every evening after dinner? Or how about deciding that you’ll sit alone in the dark with a candle for fifteen minutes before going to bed every night?

By dedicating time in your hectic schedule to getting to know yourself, you help to make this a priority—equally as important as the dates you make with friends and loved ones.

Try writing in a journal every day—an excellent technique for getting to know yourself better. At first it may feel kind of uncomfortable, if you’re not accustomed to writing. But after a few days you’ll probably become hooked. You’ll find that writing gives you a chance to “talk to” a valued and irreplaceable friend—your inner self. This friend will become more precious to you the longer you continue your journal-writing practice, and pretty soon you won’t want to give up your journal time for anything in the world.

As you conquer your fear of solitude and learn to relish your time alone, you’ll emerge out the other side a dramatically different person. You’ll never again be so dependent on other people for your sense of well-being, and solitude will never again terrify you in quite the same way. In fact, you’ll probably discover incredible joy in solitude, and will begin carefully carving time for yourself out of each and every day.

Author's Bio: 

Marti Eicholz, Ph.D. is founder of the Institute for Transformation in Kirkland, Washington. She is also a national speaker, radio personality and the author of five books. Her most recent title is Personal Relationships: The Art of Living Together. Learn more about the Institute for Transformation at www.transformation.org.