THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Alone with ourselves

By Fred Cavaiani

Most of us spend a lot of time alone with our thoughts. We spend more time with our personal self than with anyone else. We are alone much of the time engaged in our thoughts and desires. Though we may live with other people and work with other people, we are quite engaged with the internal thoughts that keep surfacing in our mind and the feelings that we keep experiencing in our hearts. We drive to work alone. We drive home alone. We read alone. We watch television but it is our thoughts that we are invested in as we watch programs. So much of everyone's life is really lived alone. No matter how many people might be around, life is a journey that consists mostly of being alone. We can forget how alone we are in living life. We may not feel lonely but we certainly do have much alone time with our self throughout every day.

How we use our alone time determines the happiness and peace we will experience in living our lives. What do you find yourself experiencing in the many hours of each day that you are alone, alone with your own thoughts and feelings? Most emotional, psychological and spiritual tension result from not knowing what to do with the abundance of alone time that each of us have.

We can feel quite empty and lonely if we do not know how to properly deal with our alone time. During our alone times throughout the day, many thoughts flood our minds. An abundance of feelings, both painful and joyful, will surface. We can preoccupy ourselves with worry of how we want things to be. We can invest in negativity towards people and negativity about life as we see life or life as we are living it.

When you look out at someone or something what do you experience? When a painful feeling or a joyful feeling arises within you, what do you do with it?

Alone time is a time to experience the best about life. It is a time to be contemplative and prayerful. It is a time to be loving and compassionate. It is a time to be creative and energized. The best of human nature happens when are alone which is all the time. Each moment of life is filled with energy which is bursting all around us. Each moment of life is a new and precious experience of the Divine. We just spend too much time analyzing instead of experiencing what is in front of us, behind us and all around us. We can spend too much time talking instead of listening. Listening so very carefully to others will help us respond to others in an appropriate and caring manner. Listening to someone else helps me make my alone time very productive and meaningful.

Everyone is called and challenged to a reflective life simply because we are born with a reflective mind and a simple and trusting heart. It is what happens to us in life that can cover over this reflective mind and simple, trusting heart. But when I open up to what has happened to me both positively and negatively, I open up to a positive experience of my alone time which becomes a positive experience of God. When I am alone with myself I can become so very wide open to God. I become so very wide open to the painful parts of me and the joyful parts of me. This complete openness allows a depth of life to happen to me which one could call a corrective emotional experience or a genuine spiritual experience. When I experience openly and honestly what I need to feel, I begin to heal. Alone time is when this happens so I must treasure this alone time.

The difficulty most of us have is to allow this to happen. But we can allow this to happen by remembering that each moment is a positive alone time to experience something good and wonderful. There is a presence of the Divine in everything and everyone and in every moment of life. My alone time can help me realize this if I let it happen. Or my alone time can be blocked out because of my own fears to go deeper in life. I can also defeat my alone time by internally becoming judgmental of other people and expressing this in words verbally expressed or using our advanced technological advances to write things that are condemning or critical toward those who disagree with us. Investment in negativity makes us shallow and superficial and afraid to be alone with our own personal self.

Busyness, drugs, alcohol, addictive behaviors, incessant talking and obsessing are ways of avoiding the alone time that is with me in each moment of the day. We humans have been given a mind and a heart to experience life on a much deeper basis. As much as many would like to believe this, we are not programmed to act only a certain way. We can reflect on things and engage in different positive or negative modes of behavior. We can do much good in the world or we can do much harm in the world. It all depends upon how we use our alone time.

A positive experience of alone time depends upon how well we lead a reflective life. To take some quiet time each day to meditate can help us tremendously to have positive alone time. To accept what we are powerless about is another good way of doing this. Living in the present moment allows us to experience the Divine Energy in this present moment. As I sit here on our porch with our little dog in the chair next to me, the wind blowing gently, the people on the Macomb trail riding by on their bikes or jogging by, the trees blowing in the wind, I am amazed at the energy and inspiration discovered in this alone time. Alone time I will always have with me. This is where I learn how to live so that my time with others will always be loving and meaningful.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan he is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other week. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is:

Published: Wed, Aug 15, 2018