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What Can Be Done About Our Inability to Feel Comfortable When We're Alone

Aug 17, 2007
Many of us have planned our lives very carefully to avoid being alone. We may not see our motivation that clearly but we can sure look back and see a long string of relationships of one kind and another. That ought to tell us something. We like company...someone to use as a mirror. It's possible to see our selves reflected in the approval of others and then dummy up an identity.

Starting out in this life is always a joint experience or we don't survive. We soon realize that pleasing others is a smart move. Teachers come along behind parents and siblings, and the next thing we know we're pleasing our scout leaders and church choir directors. They smile...we do it again. They frown and we hear warming bells. We socialize, grow up, marry and are soon seeing ourselves through the eyes of our own children where we continue to look for identity through approval.

Somewhere along the line, hopefully, a healthy person begins to look toward developing an individualistic side. Often it isn't easy if we meet up with opposition. Others often want to be super-important to us and don't want us to change our agreeable habits. The trick is to not back down into people pleasing when this happens. Most of us won't want to pass on becoming a "stand-alone" person once we get started.

One of the ways to pave the way into the often-foreign territory of "selfness" is learning to like our own company. Sometimes we can learn to partner without excessive leaning by going on an occasional retreat with the up-front agenda of trying to see who we are when we are a alone. Do we feel whole and complete?

Most jobs and family situations don't support the retreat idea. It's more like "You are going to go where...to do what? Are you planning a retreat from life?" Yet it's an idea worth considering. Where would we go and what would we do if we were left to our own devices and desires? If we're not interested in finding out...beware. Fear may be lurking.

Years ago when a death broke up a lifetime relationship, the person left behind was often unable to drive or balance a checkbook. It's more the exception than the rule now. However, we do have those who are left behind who feel like half of something that is no more...individuals who aren't individuals, really. To get caught in that situation and to have to begin building an independent entity at that time could be a tall order. The time to work on it is more likely to be supportive if we don't have to do it in crisis.

If we are uncomfortable alone...don't like to spend a night away from home...need to ask for the opinions of others before making a simple choice and/or turn to someone for support constantly, it is possible to reverse that trend. We can prepare ourselves for the possible eventuality of being the surviving partner of a long-term relationship by breaking old habits. Take the small ones first. We all have a different list of where we defer and when we lean. Both are charming behaviors at certain times and comforting at others, yet if we see a pattern...it is possible to step up to the plate and break free. We need to scrutinize our feelings and interactions honestly to get started.

As we gain experience, a new identity will come forward...a "stand alone" person that is better prepared for the fickleness of life. In the process we could also become more interesting, not only to others but to ourselves as well.
About the Author
Luise Volta's life has included careers in nursing, teaching pre-school, interior design, Real Estate sales, insurance adjusting, and dairy herd testing. Visit for Relationship Advice.
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