Science of Being Alone

At one point long ago the word ‘alone’ was ‘all-one.’ The underlying meaning of the word changed from a positive emphasis on ‘oneness’ or individuality to the negative implication of being unhappy ‘by oneself.’ Now when we use the word alone, most people will think of an experience worth avoiding.

As in “I’m all alone.” Yet there are times when being ‘all one’ or in a state of individual fulfillment is a sought after experience. Which is it? Should you avoid being alone at all costs or should you develop your capacity for solitary experiencing? I think you need to develop your ability to be alone by learning how to be by yourself. 

We should never avoid being alone expecting it were a negative experience. In fact, I think a developed comfort being alone requires practice being by oneself when that’s necessary or preferred. In the long run, it makes being with other people more fulfilling. How?

If you can be alone comfortably, which means you are comfortable being ‘by yourself,’ there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing those skills into your love-life. If you are comfortable with temporary separations from your lover, this makes it easier in a love relationship to part company without getting overly worried or overwhelmed.

A healthy love relationship requires the ability to connect and separate as needed. If you can’t do one or the other of these basic love-life skills you’re in trouble. This is the way a certain amount of freedom is preserved in a love relationship. If there is too much control or possessiveness because one or the other or both of you are afraid of temporary separations after being together for a while, there’ll be conflict.

In fact. if you are comfortable with letting your lover leave and come back to you, it’s more likely that the experience of separating will make your hearts grow fonder for each other. This is one way people in love find out how much they are in love with each other.

Let’s talk about the hidden meaning of the phrase ‘being by yourself.’ The implication here is that you have a relationship with yourself. It’s surprising that most people don’t really think about the relationship they have with themselves. The word relationship is usually reserved for what goes on between you and somebody else. In fact, when you start thinking in terms of a relationship with yourself, an important area of discovery and potential development opens up.

It is common to think about developing a relationship between you and someone you love. Think about applying the same focus to how you relate to and treat yourself. Think of you as a person needing guidance and care. As if you could wander off and get lost if not properly supervised. Think of analyzing the quality of your self-care. Is is good enough? Or are you treating yourself badly or neglectfully?

When we take care of someone we look out for him or her and make sure he or she is doing what is healthy. Same here. If I review how I take care of myself I might discover that I am doing a few things that are hurting myself. If I willfully make the correction in how I take care of myself, I am essentially practicing a form of love directed now to myself.

This will no doubt boost my self-esteem and eventually lead to improvements in my love-life. In fact, you could say by improving my love for myself through improvements in self-care, I am developing my ability to love another person. The other person at this point in time is me.

Getting back to being alone, it’s a good time to practice taking care of yourself. It’s a good time to practice improving your relationship with yourself. You are practicing being ‘all one.’ More precisely, you are practicing feeling comfortable with yourself when you’re by yourself. Experiencing the company of you and feeling good about it.

Practicing something like this will not only improve your love-life but you’ll also develop your ability to create the life you want for yourself. Too many people think of their lives as under the control of someone or something else. We are all the secret creators of our own lives. Consider the reality that you are shaping your life into what it is. You’ll discover that it all depends upon the choices that you’ve made and may have kept secret even from yourself.

Being alone is a great opportunity to review the choices you’ve been making. So the ‘science’ of being alone involves understanding the value of being alone. It’s not just wasted time between love relationships. It’s not just time spent doing nothing. It’s not just time you should avoid by forcing yourself to be with people when deep down inside you’d prefer to be alone. Being alone is valuable time. It’s a time to develop your individuality in the form of strengthening your comfort with yourself, your care of yourself, and your ability to create a satisfying life through the choices you’ve made and will make.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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