Getting Comfortable with Being Alone: Is your own company really that bad?

My sister sent me this link today…    (4 and a half mins long)

and it really resonated with me.It is a video poem created by Andrea Dorfman that talks about getting more comfortable with being alone. Its worth watching more than once.

I find in my practice that being alone is one of the biggest stressors that clients struggle with. I think we are genetically programmed to seek out companionship because our ancestors knew that being in groups, families or tribes increased their safety. In other words, if you were a caveman, it wasn’t really a viable option to live alone because nobody would be there to help you if you got sick or injured and working in groups often made food more plentiful. Sharing the duties of daily life was and is a practical consideration, but less so in this day and age. Now we tend to seek companionship/relationships because it often “hurts” not to.

The word “lonely” seems to be universally recognized as a painful thing. Recognizing that at least one part of our ancient brain will tend to drive us toward companionship is important but believing that being on your own is a bad thing is entirely another. If your basic needs in life are met (physiological needs {egs., food, air water} and physical safety needs {not under attack, roof over our head, bed to sleep in and restore}) we are essentially out of danger. The trouble is that our brain which still contains ancient parts, so to speak, is programmed to remind us when we are not in companionship because it was programmed many thousands of years ago and our circumstances of living have changed. At this time in our evolution, we have time to spare. Even 100 years ago most people had to work long hours to make sure that they and their families would survive. They, quite literally, did not have time to feel sad because they had no one to go for coffee with except themselves. Because we have this luxury we now have a greater sense of loneliness. At least some of us do.

I would like to acknowledge that I believe that quality companionship is tremendously valuable for most people and a sense of connectedness can be one of the most wonderful and life-enhancing feelings one can experience. Working to be a part of a community that fills one’s personal “gas tank” is a good idea and will enhance one’s life experience but, finding comfort in doing activities with yourself and valuing your own company is an essential  part of a satisfying life, in my opinion.

This video addresses so many of the worries people tend to have and makes lots of suggestions about how to grow your comfort with be being on your own if you might want to do that. Take yourself out for coffee or for dinner and enjoy 🙂

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