Being alone is underrated.
I myself have struggled for years to really capture the beauty of it, and I now see so many people being in the same predicament: they find it hard to be on their own. Why is that? I think that there are two aspects to consider. On the one hand, it is difficult to be in the company of someone you don’t like, as simple as that: whether that’s another person or whether that’s you, it doesn’t make any difference, we just want to be with someone we like, love, respect, appreciate and accept. Unfortunately we don’t often feel this way about ourselves and it makes our own company quite uncomfortable. On the other hand, I think that being alone is made difficult by all the ideas and limiting beliefs about it that we come across since a very young age. For instance: being alone is sad, if you are alone you feel alone, if you are alone you are a looser or a geek, those who are alone are alone because nobody want them, or because they got rejected, or because they have no other choice, and so on and so forth, you get the gist. Of course not all of us grew up with these same beliefs and perhaps some were actually encouraged to explore time on their own; however from what I gather from my clinical experience, culturally, being alone is considered to be awkward. Do you relate to it? Did you grow up with similar or rather different ideas about it?
I have noticed that many people would do almost anything not to be alone, to avoid it.
What is your experience of being on your own? How do you feel when you are in your own company? Do you fear to be judged if you spend time alone or if you decide to do things alone? Do you happen to go out with people you don’t like to avoid being alone, or perhaps are you in a relationship that does not make you feel fully happy so that you won’t be alone? I know these are a lot of questions but I hope this can help raise awareness on the subject. To be alone is something that can be quite exquisite – and maybe this is exactly how you feel about it! We need to experience some quiet, alone time: that’s when we give ourselves the chance to notice how we feel, to become more aware of who we are and what we need and want. It is when we are alone that we can get acquainted with ourselves and explore who we really are, find the truth about ourselves. Does it intrigue you? Or does it scare you?
Psychotherapist Terry Real says that “relationships are our biospheres. You and your partner are connected in an ecosystem.” I believe this is a beautiful image to describe a relationship with healthy boundaries. When we are able to be on our own, we can be a healthy part in that ecosystem. However when we struggle being on our own, we tend to become needy and to use others as a crutch; we have codependent relationships characterised by lack of boundaries and the tendency to live in symbiosis with the partner: we merge, we become one and we forget who we are. The ecosystem has now blown up! What I find concerning, as a therapist, is that this is actually what some people want from a relationship, what they hope for; they think it is actually ideal – and again, our culture, from Disney to romantic movies, is responsible for fostering this idea. We fear solitude so much that we would rather stay in an uncomfortable relationship, to experience the comfort of knowing that we are not alone.
The thing is, if you don’t feel good with yourself, how could you feel good with others?
You would just drag on your fears and lack of worth and these would spread into the relationships. You are the centre: you need to learn to feel good about yourself, in order to feel good with others. Partners, friends and family are just the cherry on top. So, how do we do that? Well, you could start with taking yourself on a date: wink at yourself at the mirror and ask yourself out. You are dating a very special person, what would you plan for her/him? What would she/he like to do, what would make her/him feel special? Treat yourself as you would treat a date and see what happens…sometimes magic will happen!
What I like to do in my own company, is dancing. I find it such an amazing way to reconnect and to have fun with myself. And I will share my favourite track at the moment, as it seems very spot on. It’ Diva, by La Rappresentante di Lista and in the lyrics she actually says “I dance, I dance for hours when I want to hang out with myself”. Not only that, this is how is begins:
You’re a special diva
You’re my only diva
Are you ready for this?
She then says “I am a diva or I am nothing else”. I hope that it will be your motto and that you will recognise that you are the best company you could ever wish for. Therefore you could never be bored with yourself, just like you would never be bored spending time with your favourite diva!