“If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” -Maxwell Maltz
Most people enjoy being alone sometimes, but others dread even short periods of time spent in solitude. Autophobia often surfaces when a person feels ignored, unloved, and unsatisfied with himself/herself.
We fear the thoughts which we try really hard not to face, the decisions which we would rather not make, and a realisation that we are not going to live forever. Silence makes all these come out and play in our head. So often we rush to something that will distract us and entertain us – entertainment is happier and more pleasant than an internal debate on our purpose on this planet and recollection of our unfulfilled dreams. The thoughts about missed opportunities, the love of our life who got away, the jolt of self-confidence which would have led to that coveted promotion, the years lost on petty things like teenage years, the failed relationships with relatives/parents, a countless things which could have been done better, the loss of passion for life, the inability to do anything about any of it… These are powerful thoughts. Not many people are able to handle them.
My fear is that in a generation or two wisdom may cease to exist because no one will wonder about philosophy or the meaning of life, or even sit down and cry because they are “connected” but utterly alone; there would be no reason to push self to achieve something because there is a cheap and handy smile-maker (another meaningless activity like checking Facebook) at the fingertips.
If you are worried about your fears of being alone, study these 6 ways to help you find your comfort zone.
- First, the good news
How many times have you said to yourself, ‘I just can’t wait to be alone’? This might be after a day’s work, an argument with your partner or after a noisy dinner with friends. You need time to be yourself, gather your thoughts, relish the silence and just totally chill out. These are precious moments and are very important for your own peace of mind and mental refreshment.
- Enjoy being alone
When you are alone, it is important to enjoy it to the full. Wallow in the feeling that you do not have to be accountable for anything you do. Pursue your interests and hobbies. Take up new ones. Learn new skills. Leave the kitchen in a mess. The list can go on and on, but finding the right balance is crucial. There will be times when being on your own are perfect, but then there will be a creeping feeling that you should not be so isolated. Once you start feeling loneliness, then it is time to take action. Follow these 4 remaining steps.
- Facebook is not the answer
Have you noticed how people seek virtual contacts instead of a live, face-to-face interaction? It is true that social networking can provide an initial contact, but the chances of that becoming a real life personal contact is pretty slim. Swiping right on tinder is the easiest way without having to spend time to express and communicate. Being wrapped up in a cloud of sharing, liking and commenting (and insulting!) can only increase loneliness. When you really want company, no one on Facebook will phone you to invite you out.
- Loneliness stalks unhappy relationships
It is a cruel fact of life that people are so scared of loneliness that they often opt into a relationship with the wrong person. Loneliness before and after. There is enormous pressure from peers, family and society in general to get married or to be in a stable, long-term relationship. When this happens, people start making wrong decisions, such as:
- hanging out with toxic company such as dishonest or untrustworthy people
- getting involved with unsuitable partners because of the fear of being alone or lonesome
- accepting inappropriate behaviour just because of loneliness
- making a long-term decision instead of seeking a temporary remedy.
The main problem is that you need to pause, reflect and get advice. Recognise that your fear of being alone is taking over. A rash decision now could lead to endless unhappiness.
- A burden shared is a burden halved
Dag Hammarskjold was keenly aware of this fact when he said ‘what makes loneliness anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden but this: I have only my own burden to bear’. Simply put, it is a two-way street. Reach out to help and people will be there when you need them.
- Be grateful and count your blessings
Study after study shows that if people show gratitude they will reap a bountiful harvest. These include a stronger immune system, better health, more positive energy and most important of all, feeling less lonely and isolated.
lastly, spending time with people you care about is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean that time without them is lacking in anything. Shift to seeing the positives in solitude and take advantage of it, and you’ll never have to feel lonely again.