Image by Hamed Masoumi

It is often said that we each are on our own path. That no one can give our life for us.

These things are true – and yet . . .

I want to qualify these ideas, argue with them. It is because of the experience of a friend of mine at the moment. They are sorting out what are core issues for them. They have significant physical and sexual abuse in their past, so it is big stuff. They are coming to the place where they know who they are and feel they are who they are in their own body. This is an extraordinary achievement. They have great courage and determination. The unpleasant part of the process for them is that they feel alone and disconnected.

My questioning of the ‘we are all alone’ idea is that this doesn’t seem to be desirable on a permanent basis. I can see that it may be a necessary stage, but for me spirituality means compassion, and compassion means connecting (though perhaps not in the usual way).

Finding who we are, I think, will usually mean having a separateness from others. We do things differently to others. We may leave behind ideas, feelings and ways of behaving that we have learnt from others.

In my experience, having a sense of who I am has usually meant that I find I can connect with more people, more deeply. Sometimes the process of finding who I am is assisted by solitude, but the result has usually been more connection. Sometimes too, I have learned about myself in a conversation or relationship – so that solitude hasn’t always been the way for me.

I have found that, having a sense of security in myself, helps me to listen to others – even if they are very different to me.

Occasionally I have also had the experience of connecting through listening to our differences. Sometimes, even though I disagree with someone, if both of us are able to respect and listen to each other, that an intimacy comes. In these times we connect deeply because we are different.

The story for my friend is not over yet. My hope is that they discover a deep connection with many people is possible because of the process they are going through.

I’d like to hear your experiences. Has finding yourself meant more aloneness or more connection? Both in different ways perhaps? Please let me know your experience in the comments.

If you liked this post you might also like,
Embracing Our Conflicts
Intimacy: how to get more of it
How to Listen to Someone

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4 Comments to “Are We All Alone?”

  1. Ching Ya says:

    For me, it comes in both ways. As time goes by, I get to know more about myself (thinking that we also need time to understand our ownself may sounded silly, yet it’s the truth, otherwise, there’s no ‘growing up’). I feel alone at times, thinking that, why nobody understands me? why I’m behaving my own way, and people don’t agree? I get upset, yet people think it’s no big deal! That’s when I feel alone.

    The good thing is, by feeling so, I tend to turn and feed myself, spiritually. By taking some time off, and being alone, calming myself, I get to see the self-centred thoughts I have, and I shall never demand people to go my way, or think the way I do. Then I get to be more reasonable, not taking things too seriously. I can get more ‘open’ minded with my friends, and accept them for who they are, and stop demanding attention I think I should get. It helps in my relationships/friendships, and I appreciate life even more.

    No matter how I feel with the people around me, the comforting part is, although I still tend to feel hopeless and disappointed at time, I know that I’m Never alone. And that is the belief I need to hold on for the rest of my life.

  2. Evan says:

    Hi Ching Ya,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and personal comment.

  3. Barbara says:

    Hi Evan,

    Like your friend, I think it is sometimes difficult to have connection when one is dealing within internal strife or confusion or even recognition that life has altered who they are, who they became through difficulties over which they had no control.

    Often I have struggled knowing my own mind, my own feelings, my own state of being. It then is so logical, if reaching out to connect with others, the confusion blurs one’s efforts, because it has blurred everything I bring with me. Things one carries with them most of the time.

    It does take a lot of work to straighten this all out, release oneself and those who never experienced it do have difficulty understanding. It has an unreal quality or undesirable nature. I’m no different. Would I really want to know in detail how horrible it would feel to be injured in war? Probably not. The person telling me their war story must feel very alone as I couldn’t sit with it or take on their pain.

    There’s so much talk these days that change is created with simple shifts in how one can look at a situation. And I suppose that is true. But reality often belies how it actually happens.

    I can point to a current American shift. Race issues have been poor mark on America for as long as America has been known to the world. It cannot be described as anything but shameful. Today the picture seems quite lovely. The shift is in motion. But it is not without centuries of history of work to reach what is so new, so hopeful.

    I can’t help but think that each of those people who gave their lives to change futures for their children and their children’s children, felt nothing but alone. After all, they were living prosecution for no other reason than the color of their skin. Believing that one person couldn’t possibly make this difference would be normal, a solitary pursuit.

    Each person’s experience unique and until one can know just how unique their own experience, it seems impossible to be able to share it with another. There is something about the certainity of personal knowing that contributes directly to the certainty of being. Then finallyin the surety, the ability to reach out safely, securely and gladly to others.

    It does seem such a paradox. Almost 7 billion people and so, so many alone. But I doubt it is the majority of people’s desire. It’s never been mine, no matter that the truth of my story paints a picture otherwise.

    So no, I don’t think we are alone, but the pursuit to know that can only be accomplished on an individual basis, with singular effort.

  4. Evan says:

    Thanks Barbara,

    It’s an extraordinarily and insightful comment, and it is as articulate which I think your comments always are.

    “I don’t think we are alone, but the pursuit to know that can only be accomplished on an individual basis, with singular effort.” puts it beautifully.

    If you had the time and desire I would like you to turn it in to a post that I could then put on the blog.

    Thanks again.

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