Happy and Alone?

I believe that a lot of personal healing happens through connecting with others. Research shows that it’s others that help us find validation, and it’s others who we can relate to especially when it comes to experiences that used to isolate us – for example, using or drinking and suffering the consequences of that. It is also others that allow us to partake in the joys of recovery – after all, it’s only the people who have been where we are that will fully understand how challenging recovery is and what is at stake. Someone who has no experience with addiction won’t understand, for example, the enormous pride and hope one feels on getting the first week, month, year sober after a lifetime of self-destruction.

But not everyone has a chance to find healing with others. And not everyone wants to or needs to! Not everyone feels comfortable and safe enough in group settings. Some of us are simply unable to connect – whether emotionally or mentally or even physically (such as during the pandemic). Does it mean that those people are doomed and should be left to their own devices? Yes and no. Yes, it’s possible that being alone isn’t actually the end of the world for such a person, and no, even the most isolated of us can still find healing without the aid of a community – as long as there’s one person who can guide you through your process and as long as you have the willingness to heal, you can probably manage just fine. If and when you’re ready you can join a community and immerse yourself in recovery that happens with the help of a group, but just because you’re not capable of doing that – or frankly, don’t want to – that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the tools to help yourself.

In my work, I’ve met quite a few clients who have expressed how they were happy and self-fulfilled when on their own and who, in fact, mentioned that it was other people that would usually bring them down. A real introvert will often talk about how they find other people “draining” or “energy-sucking” and we need to acknowledge our individual preferences and capabilities when it comes to social interactions in recovery – whether from trauma or addiction. When I realize a client is someone who would actually flourish from being on their own and for whom groups create a challenge, I try to focus on all the positive things that come from being uninterrupted by others. I find that things like mediation (or my favorite Blue Mind practices), journaling about the question “Who Am I” and other intentional self-care behaviors are excellent tools we all have at our disposal and those of us who thrive can also really benefit from them. Being able to sit in nature, being able to examine your presence in the Here and Now, and allowing yourself to feel and identify all your feelings is an excellent practice of self-healing.

Most of us do need guidance – at least in the beginning – and that’s something that I focus on in my practice with clients. I make sure that a client who likes being on their own has access to someone who will understand their particular challenge(s) and who will not push the client towards situations that will be stressful and unpleasant, such as group shares. A healing guide will be intuitive and sensitive enough to be able to take their clients through those beginnings by offering regular check-ins, suggesting journaling and most importantly creating a space that is safe and free of judgment. I know there’s still prejudice against doing things alone, for example, I often hear from female friends who talk about how they enjoy eating in restaurants by themselves, but they won’t for the fear of appearing desperate! Our society is not comfortable with people being content alone, but the reality is many people are and sometimes our own company is the best company – our own company should always be the reason to begin healing in the first place. After all, when you first open your eyes in the morning, and experience the world around you – even with someone lying right next to you – you are blissfully, fully by yourself in that moment and time. And this is a beautiful moment to pause and appreciate your solitude.


Photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash