- Are YOU on Your Own?
We live in an age where it’s easy to create and feel the pressure of society to ‘be with’ another. Our annual St. Valentines celebrations can be joyous for some and misery for those who feel that they are still without their ‘valentine’. We have been taught to believe that falling in love is an ‘achievement’ and that we will ‘miss out’ on love if there is not the permanent presence of one ‘special’ other in our life. So we often try to ‘force’ our way towards an intimate relationship. We now have singles ‘in search of love’ clubs, dating clubs and speed dating events. Newspapers and magazines have pages full of singles seeking other singles so that they may become doubles! We have an avalanche of websites all designed to help us find our ‘soul mate’. There are courses on how to fall in love, seminars on how to attract the perfect partner, and workshops on how to manage your ‘other half’ once the honeymoon is over!
There are hundreds if not thousands of therapists, counselors and coaches all waiting for the call to rescue, resuscitate and rejuvenate us as we struggle to cope with the complications of maintaining an intimate relationship or with the loneliness of no relationship or just being lonely in a relationship!
So what’s going on really? Why are the lawyers having such a great time steering us towards pre-nups and out of court settlements, separations and divorces. Why are the massed ranks of agony aunts and uncles now inundated with the tears and tantrums of people having a tough time with their partner? Could it be that this ‘relationship industry’, which seems to have arrived out of nowhere in the last thirty years, is due to one thing, one reason, one cause? Could it be that we find it hard to sustain and nurture a genuinely intimate relationship with another/s simply because we do not know our self?
“Unless you are completely content to be on your own, which means totally comfortable in your own company, you will never find authentic happiness with another”.
To some this is a frightening statement and to others it is a profound truth. How does it sound to you? Whether it’s true or not it is likely to ring a bell and is therefore certainly worth investigating. Here are seven observations about our possible motives to ‘be with’ another that may influence your interpretation of such a statement. See if they ring any bells for you.
1 Many people ‘want’ someone else in their life so that they can escape from themselves, which means escape from what they see and feel within themselves. They attempt to ‘hide’ in the other. It may work for a while but it’s likely that eventually all will be revealed!
2 If we become ‘attached’ to another person it means we will live in some form of fear (usually anxiety) – fear of loss or loneliness. However, we learn to tolerate the anxiety and interpret it as normal. All the while we tend to mistake that attachment for love. We don’t see that our anxieties sabotage our happiness and our capacity to give of our self. Clinging on even harder can suppress the fear but it usually returns in different forms such as suspicion and jealousy. Not exactly the signs of a happy union.
3 Your motive for wanting to be with someone may be because you worry about what others will think of you if you are seen to be ‘on your own’. Many of us have learned to equate being on our own as a sign of failure. This means our self-esteem/worth is still externalised and dependent on others. Not such a good idea but it is what many of us are programmed to believe and socialized to do. This dependency then quietly eats away at our self-confidence and self-respect.
4 If you become dependent on the other person in order to ‘feel secure’ you will eventually sabotage the relationship when your insecurities emerge and turn into expectations. As you project those expectations on to the other you are both likely to feel a loss of freedom. And if you are not a free being you cannot be happy.
5 Believing that another person or their approval is necessary to make us feel complete means we are living in the illusion that we are not complete already. Along with several million/billion others we have likely consumed and digested the ‘societal delusions’ that something or someone needs to be ‘acquired’ in order to become complete in our self and therefore in our life. And yet, we can only know your ‘completeness’, and therefore be internally content, when we free our self from the wantingness and neediness that arises from dependency on…anything or anyone. That’s not to say we do not accept the gifts of help and support from others, especially in moments when we are unable to help our self. It just means we neither use that help/support to ‘prop’ our self up internally, nor crave it.
6 When we want and try to ‘belong’ to someone it just means we have not fully recognized that the desire to ‘belong’ is simply a deep ‘longing to be’…our self…again! Wanting to belong to another (or a group or place) means we are searching for our self in something or someone else. An impossible mission!
7 When we want to ‘fall in love’ with another it usually means we want what we already are and therefore have – which is love itself! But Hollywood and Bollywood have done such a brilliant job they have convinced us to believe that love must be sought and acquired from outside our self. In truth love can never be lost because the one thing we can never lose is our ‘self’.
Paradoxically it’s only when you are comfortable in your self, in your own company, without needing another, knowing that you are already complete, aware that you already have what you may have sought from the other, free of the desire for romance to engulf you, that you may then attract those around you with whom you resonate and ‘connect’ with most naturally.
In truth, we come naked and alone and we leave naked and alone. In between we get to ‘play’ with others. But we lose our playfulness, our ‘joie de vivre’, when we attempt to want, cling, possess, attach and belong to another.
When you know yourself i.e. who you really are and what you really are, you will then be equally at ease in your own and others company. Only then, whenever you are alone, you are never lonely. There may also be the realisation that even when you are living in the ‘kingdom of coupledom’, in reality, you are always on your own!
Question: Which of the seven observations above ring your bells most loudly to you?
Reflection: What happens when you ‘idealise’ the perfect relationship?
Action: Initiate a dialogue this week with your partner or friends on why relationships break down. Earnestly seek both the symptoms and the root causes.
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