Fear of solitude
Fear of solitude is something that every person feels. Humans by nature are social creatures. They struggle to endure long durations in isolation.
Being alone for too long might lead to states of insanity. Loneliness from isolation might even end up in depression.
Practices of confinement and exile have been a form of punishment for a long time. Even in Prisons, solitary confinement is given to only the most dangerous criminals.
In the modern world, people are afraid of being alone for even a small duration of time.
Their attention span has shrunk and a person doing nothing is looked at with eyes of suspicion.
How odd would you find a guy sitting in a coffee shop doing nothing? Without a phone or a book. Just having a sip of his coffee. 😛
Why do we hate solitude so much? Moreover, what can we learn about it during the present global crisis of Covid-19 influenza, where we are all advised to stay at home.
“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.”― Honoré de Balzac
Fear of solitude is fear of one’s self
In Greek, the fear of solitude is called Autophobia. Auto refers to the self and phobia refers to fear. The fear of solitude is thus, the fear of one’s own self.
People are scared about what they might find about themselves if they were alone. When we are in the company of others our ego takes center stage and the frightening thoughts and emotions are pushed outside of our awareness.
When alone however these thoughts rise to the surface. That darkness within is always present and the more we ignore it the more powerful it becomes.
Instead what we should do is come to terms with it. As Rainer Maria Rilke said
“It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. “― Rainer Maria Rilke
The ego, or the ‘story of who we believe we are’ constantly tries to protect itself. Maybe by embracing solitude, we might realize that the ego is an illusion. Maybe we are not what we think.
Most people afraid of confronting their inner selves, try to find themselves in other people. This way they might escape the solitude they so fear but end up becoming a person that is a shadow of their potential.
Relationship of dependence
By chasing the company of others and distracting ourselves from Isolation, we are starving ourselves of the opportunity to grow.
We thereby end up in a relationship of dependence. A relationship built on fear and insecurity.
People in such relationships will be so terrified of being alone that they will do anything to stay with the other person.
This makes those people become false self of themselves. A person that is a reflex of how they believe others want them to be.
They become people-pleasers, out of their fear of abandonment. We talk much more about relationships in our blog here.
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”― Michel de Montaigne
Our true self
Instead of identifying with our false self, what we need is to realize our true selves. The over-dependence we have for interpersonal relationships comes due to the overwhelming belief in object relations theory.
Object relations theory is an offshoot of psychoanalytic theory that emphasizes interpersonal relations, primarily in the family and especially between mother and child.
An absolute belief in this theory would make us conclude that all human life derives meaning primarily only from interpersonal relationships.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”― Arthur Schopenhauer
Everything beyond that holds little to no meaning. That is factually incorrect. As has been proven by many philosophers and psychologists, real happiness in life can be felt when we experience growth.
We have all, in our lives, experienced that moment of euphoria when we are completely engrossed in a task so deeply that we lose all sense of time.
Overcoming the challenge and improving on that task provides us with joy that we could not only feel in that moment but afterward as well.
You can read more about it in our blog on happiness here.
Solitude enables Growth
As every artist will tell us that, it was in the moments of solitude, they were able to create their greatest works. We cannot evolve if we keep thinking from the state of mind we are presently in. To evolve it is important to be still.
“Without great solitude no serious work is possible”― Picaso
Think about a caterpillar that eventually turns into a butterfly. It can only do that after a period in solitude. A period of staying still. By being in solitude, we come to realize truths about ourselves that we might never come across any other way.
Buddhist monks lived alone in meditations for extended periods of time. They realized that true happiness comes from within and does not require the presence of other people.
Everything that you have done up until this point in time was to the best of your ability. If you were not good at something, it was because you did not know any better.
Solitude as a way to self-correct
In solitude, you realize that the identity you created for the society is just the ego. The story of your circumstances in your life that is presently running in our heads.
It can be the job that you work in, a person you are with, maybe even a thing that you own. Your ego identifies with it.
You now struggle to keep up with it. Every moment of every day, you are trying to stay true to that identity you think you are.
This way you are not growing, you are not connecting to the higher self.
However, being alone can enable you to reflect on your life you can self-correct. This enables you to decide which direction you should go towards and what habits you should change.
Nikola Tesla was a lifelong bachelor who secluded himself to give complete focus to his work. He is still regarded by many as the greatest inventor who ever lived.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”― [The Minotaur] Albert Camus
Fear of solitude and going back to normal
Nothing that you can lose is you. It might be your house, your ability to travel, your monthly income. When you lose something, you feel pain inside you.
That pain you feel is when you come to terms with that reality. Say you lose your job, the ego tries its hardest to grab on to it. You feel as if a part of your identity is lost.
However eventually, you start to work on improving your skill and end up in a different job. As you move on you realize that job was never a part of your identity. It was only a story that you told yourself.
During this crisis, we are forced to stay home and introspect our lives.
It might feel uncomfortable to most of us but imagine you pass the time of recommended quarantine and things begin getting back to normal again.
How do you feel about going back to your normal routine? It does not feel right if it is not your highest calling.
Do you feel a slight disappointment going back to how things were?
Opportunity in disguise
The only truth of the universe is change and uncertainty. Life has a way of always reminding us that.
Whenever you get too comfortable in life, it changes the circumstances in such an unexpected way that you could have never prepared for it.
Thus, you see the only thing that can never be taken from you is your actions and your craft.
The skills you master are the realization of your higher self. Everything else that you identify with is only temporary.
How can we use this opportunity to become in tune with our true selves? All the excuses we turn to for not working on those callings are gone at this point in time.
There will be a lot of sensationalism around you. Everywhere you see there will be news that’s shocking or attention-grabbing. Just so they can get as many eyeballs and shares as possible. This way you can spend the entire quarantine time worrying.
But you have already done everything that was required and there is no point in being worried anymore. You already are in your house surviving on the supplies you have.
You can’t do anything more, so what good, will worry about something outside of your control even do?
Identify with things inside your control
The things inside of your control are your actions and your skills. Try to meditate for 30 mins each day. The more you do that the more comfortable you will feel being alone.
Choose a skill and completely engross yourself into it. It can be a musical instrument, designing, writing.
Anything that you love to do but you thought you couldn’t make any money off of it so you didn’t pursue as a career.
If you can do those two things, the time you spend in quarantine that might be a few weeks to a few months will pass by in a blink.
“Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.”―Albert Einstein
This week try to meditate each day for at least 30 mins. It is just closing your eyes and being still. Everyone can do it. If you still have trouble here is something that might help. AlanWatts Guided meditation.
Try and meditate. It is the easiest way I know to be more in tune with the present.
The more you will take initiative on these steps the more you will be able to use this duration of lockdown and quarantine as a blessing.
Fear of solitude is fear of one’s self. You can’t escape from yourself anyway so then what is the point of the fear.
“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”― Jean-Paul Sartre
The more you identify yourself with the things around you the more vulnerable and distant you will be with your true self. Identify with your work and your skill so that you can be in tune with yourself.
We urge you to explore what your callings are. Do you possess the courage to chase them?
We provide a free ebook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding those callings.
Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.