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Being Alone

People in general don't like to be alone. We are wired to connect, and while we may enjoy some solitude occasionally, being alone is usually considered an undesirable state of being. Some people really can't tolerate being alone and will go to great lengths to avoid it. These people may stay very busy, frantically trying to fill up the emptiness they feel when they are without a partner. Many of the addictions that people struggle with- sex, shopping, food and drugs start out as a means to stave off the unbearable feeling of being alone.

One of life's greatest challenges is to self-validate. This means that you are able to recognize your own inherent worth. Becoming self-validated is a developmental process. It works like this: You are born helpless and completely dependent on your parents, not only physically, but emotionally. Your sense of self is a direct result of the messages that come your way. You grow to feel valuable because your parents treat you as someone valuable. You are a reflection of their love, care and attention. The better they are at validating you, the more prepared you are to take on all of the developmental tasks of becoming an adult. To the degree that they fall down in their role, you will experience insecurities about your worth. Few of us get perfect parenting and most of us come into adulthood insecure to some degree about our worth. We look to others, in particular love partners, to reassure ourselves of our value. It follows that absent a partner, our insecurities take hold and our self-esteem goes down.

Self-validation is a matter of degree. There are two major life forces within us- the drive for individuation (self) and the drive for togetherness (other). The need for a partner is part of the normal need for togetherness. When clients who are not in a relationship tell me that they are lonely, I tell them that this is normal. It does not make them "needy" or in any way immature. We are wired to want a relationship. What becomes difficult is if you have to have a partner to feel worthy. If your ability to tolerate being a separate self (to self-validate) is so low that your functioning is impaired, you are in trouble without a partner.

Getting back to the ideal parents, as you mature, they should be directing you inward for meaning and value. Rather than seeking their praise and approval, you are directed to look at how you feel about your achievements. Rather than supplying you values, you are coached to look inside and begin to define your own values based on what you've learned from parents, teacher, religious institutions and from your peer group. This is the counterpart to the drive to be together. This is you working to define who you are as an individual. The culmination of this endeavor is the creation of a solid sense of self.

The more secure you are as an individual, the less reliant you are on a partner. It doesn't mean that you don't want one; it's just that you don't need one to feel whole. Being alone, while maybe not ideal, is tolerable for you. You don't need to be validated from someone else to feel your worth; your worth is inside of you waiting to be shared.

I believe that a strong sense of self makes it easier to really love. When you are needy, it's scary to attach because the threat of loss is so overwhelming. When you are whole, you can run the risk of loss that always comes with great love. Your relationships will be deeper and more satisfying.

So how to manage when you find yourself alone? Remember that you have friends and connect with them. Great friendships are one of the most satisfying of life's pleasures. In looking for that special someone, we can forget to cultivate the friendships that can be such a rich source of sustenance. Pamper yourself. Treat yourself to a special dinner or spa-day. You don't have to be with someone to find enjoyment. Savor being alone. One of the benefits of being alone is being completely in charge of yourself. Sometimes it's really nice to have complete control of the remote, choose the movie, the music, the restaurant. Hanging out with yourself is a great way to reflect on life without the interference of anyone else's agenda. People who like themselves, like being alone, at least some of the time. Being alone is a skill worth developing. If you can be alone, you won't settle for less than what you want in a partner. Lastly, it's possible that you won't always be alone and that when the right person comes along, you will make a better choice having learned to like and respect the person you are.



Check out the new video on How to Have a Fair fight.
Also see Emotional Maturity by clicking on the title. I hope you'll find it useful.


Sally LeBoy, M.S. MFT (14768)
>> Don't Justify It!
>> Guidlines for couples Communication
>> Being Alone
>> Appreciation
>> The Holidays (Again)
>> A Bitter Taste of My Own Medicine
>> Sex!!!
>> Do I Do too Much?
>> Managing Emotions
>> How to Have a Fight
>> Emotional Maturity