“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person - without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other. Then why do they want to be together? It is no longer a need; it is a luxury. Try to understand. Real persons love each other as a luxury; it's not a need. They enjoy sharing, they have so much joy, that they would like to pour it into somebody. And they know how to play their lives as a solo instrument”
I really love this quote.
The first time I ever really thought about how important it is to not only tolerate being alone (which, is to say tolerate yourself) but also enjoy it was after a coaching session with my coach 7 years ago. I was immediately drawn to the idea and rather quickly decided that to develop and nurture the tolerance to be alone is to cultivate a stable and secure source of wellbeing and happiness
So what exactly is the capacity to be alone?
The capacity of the individual to be alone, is one of the most important signs of emotional development and maturity.
Some development of the capacity to be alone is necessary if the brain is to function at its best, and if the individual is to fulfill his highest potential.
Human beings easily become alienated from their own deepest needs and feelings. Learning, thinking, innovation, and maintaining contact with one’s own inner world are all facilitated by solitude.
Winnicott defines the capacity to be alone as the internalized sense of the comforting mother develops into the psychological capacity to regulate anxiety, self-soothe, and experience a true authentic self. In essence, this is the capacity to be alone.
True intimacy (which many, if not most, adults struggle with) starts with comfort in your own sense of self. If you like yourself and feel comfortable, you will be able to relate in a real and genuine way with another person.
True intimacy is possible when you have the “capacity to be alone” because it implies choice. You may want to be with someone but you don’t have to be with someone because you fear that being alone leaves you without stability or value.
If you are truly OK with being alone, you don't have to cling to someone to avoid abandonment or avoid someone for fear of rejection.
To be content alone with one's self is to have acceptance and love of one's self. To have love and acceptance of one's self is to create a deep capacity to love another wholly, in acceptance of their self. It is not detachment, it's about being independent and creating a healthy attachment with another. That doesn't mean we don't miss the other when they're not there, nor does it mean a part of our heart dies when they do.
True love starts with ourselves, alone, this is what I think this means.
So it's worth considering:
Are you OK with being alone?
Are you comfortable spending quality time with yourself and having fun with yourself?
Are you comfortable with your presence, energy, mind, heart, spirit, and body?
Do you love your whole self regardless of validation from others?
Do you offer emotional validation to yourself no matter what?
How comfortable are you with solitude - soulitude?
How do you engage with your thoughts, emotions, and body when in solitude?
The way we love ourselves mirrors the way we love others.
Take some time to reflect on that...