Being alone – you can get through it!

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When solitude hurts…

It’s well known that “man is by nature a social animal”. This famous maxim is attributed to Aristotle, who seems to have been blind to a huge chunk of reality, because today more and more people complain of loneliness and try to escape it. They have developed defence mechanisms to guarantee that they’re always in company – multiple romances, total submission to a partner, living with their parents in adult life, etc. It’s enough to make you think that being alone is a slow poison, and that you have to take all possible steps to protect yourself against it. The result is a state of dependence on others, because the fear of being left alone may lead to submissive behaviour, making them accept the intolerable, such as emotional undermining by their partner, or undue influence from parents or friends. It’s best to take action before this sort of situation arises.

Happiness with little or no socialising?

Emotional dependence is a modern plague, increasingly recognised as a disorder requiring medical treatment. However it’s not every situation that calls for a consultation with an expert in psychology. Here’s the biggest problem faced by people who can’t stand being alone – the difficulty of appreciating that it’s possible to live happily with limited social contact. When somebody needs other people in order to blossom, keeping them in strict isolation is like depriving a plant of light. However they can look around them for examples of people who have succeeded without outside help or, even better, people who have experienced a period of solitude and been all the better for it.

Solitude need not necessarily be seen as a dark experience, or associated with unattractive images like that of the savant who studies the world at a safe distance after retreating into his ivory tower, or the old man confined in his hermitage high in the mountains and embittered by solitude. That’s the lonely kind of solitude. However, being happy and being alone are not incompatible. The trick is to keep active, and not get fixated on the situation. In terms of happiness, some people see a bit of solitude as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Being on your own is not being at a standstill

Finding yourself alone at some time in your life can be an opportunity to make some big changes. Doing sport for its own sake, enjoying a visit to the cinema, improving yourself, going on holiday to the ends of the earth, seeing new things; these are all activities which can help with a personal renewal. Solitude can be time to take stock, time to make up your mind and move forward. The best way to put yourself in the way of new opportunities is to profit from solitude as a time for increasing your personal potential. By taking advantage of being alone so as to improve yourself, you reduce the pain of isolation, and you position yourself for a rapid and fully-equipped return to the community.


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