Sunday, August 22, 2010
When Being Alone is Hard
"Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone." ~ Paul Tillich quotes
Some people have a hard time being alone. What this essentially means is that they have difficulty being with themselves. It may be that they get bored, but that would be because they do not have interests that are engaging and stimulating.
They look to others for that sense of engagement and stimulation.
Sometimes the problem is that when alone, the mind starts going and thinking of things or difficult emotions come up. Being with others allows them to avoid things that are real issues and probably should be addressed. Stuffing down feelings and burying painful or troubling thoughts only makes things worse.
Sometimes it is a matter of self-esteem. An individual may not truly like him/her self, and only feels good when surrounded and accepted by others. If dependent on others for good feelings, being alone can feel like rejection or abandonment, even though it is not. This individual can feel a sense of desperation when there is the prospect of being alone for an extended time.
The real problem with all of this is that if one is uncomfortable being alone, this can result in staying too long in a relationship where needs are not being met, the individual is not respected, or even where there is infidelity or abuse. Unable to cope on his/her own, the person is trapped in an unsatisfactory situation with no hope of improvement. This can result in anxiety, depression or even physical illness.
There is also the possibility of unexpected death or divorce. Those who have not learned to take care of themselves physically and emotionally may be completely devastated and even break down because of the perceived impossibility of carrying on alone.
Part of maturing into adulthood is learning to access our strength and developing the confidence that we can take care of ourselves, and can be okay even if alone. This requires that we get to know ourselves, become a good friend to ourselves, and learn to enjoy our own company.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca
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