We not only occasionally lose the thread in conversation with others, but also in contact with ourselves. Why peace and time are sources of power and help to find oneself.
There are words that unfold their power only at second glance. For example the word “alone”. This can sound threatening – but also like a promise: alone, to be one with everything, healing, independent.
Like in one of those great moments in music where a violin or saxophone silences the other instruments and is enough of itself. On the other hand, our life often feels like a piece of improvised jazz that lacks the solos.
Being alone was once
It seems that the balance between team play and singles has gotten a bit out of balance in recent years. Because even though the number of single households in Germany is constantly increasing – at least to more than 40 percent – and lifestyles are more individual and diverse than ever, the new sense of us is conjured up everywhere at the same time. Giant flat share instead of one-room flat, running group instead of single round, “crime scene” – watching in the pub instead of at home on the sofa. And if you really want to stroll through the park without a companion, the walk is immediately documented for 576 followers on Instagram.
Even our aloneness must be curated and commented on, the Munich-based philosopher, author and consultant Rebekka Reinhard observed.
This is a far cry from the “dialogue with one’s soul” when the ancient thinkers from Diogenes to Marcus Aurelius praised being-for-itself.
No wonder that the constant call for community and interaction is increasingly perceived as pressure. The statistics provide about a recent study of the Techniker health insurance: One-third of respondents called too many appointments in the spare time as a burden factor – right after stress in the job. Another result: The perceived level of stress increases in proportion to how often respondents use social media.
The fear of missing something
“This internal tension arises because the sense of time in the real and the virtual world is increasingly drifting apart,” explains Reinhard. “While periods of being alone in modern biographies are becoming more prevalent, such as through separations or job-related moves, the digital world is luring with a sense of belonging and constant, maximal arousal.” A constant fire of interaction that makes us driven – the well-known sociologist Hartmut Rosa refers to the ubiquitous multitasking delusion as a “tattered time”. And alas, we’re being involuntarily cut off from the flow of communication, perhaps because the wireless router is twitching: as “FOMO,” “Fear of missing out,” researchers call the fear of missing something. Although this is more widespread among the younger “digital natives” than under 40 somethings – they are not completely free from it either.
The pleasure of missing something
At the same time, for years, the “let-me-but-all-in-peace” – longing, and corresponding offers are booming: from meditation retreat to the Silent Monastery, from “Digital Detox” to travel offers for individuals. Self-chosen time-outs in which one cultivates “the external view of oneself” (Rebekka Reinhard). Again, social researchers have coined a slick term: “JOMO”, “Joy of missing out” – the joy of saying goodbye to the over-the-top party in phases.
Of course, it’s not just us Germans who enjoy this kind of enjoyment, it’s cross-border. The latest trend from the UK: modern garden sheds on their own property, not as a storage area for the lawn mower, but as a retreat. “She-Sheds” or “She-Huts” are sometimes called rustic mini-huts. Because, as the newspaper “The Telegraph” writes: “A significant number of the clients are women, who ask for an additional space for working or for yoga exercises.”
Women are also the ones who now consciously and gladly remain alone after separations. For it has never been so easy and accepted as today to lead a completed solo life. Because the society has become more open, and because you can easily stay with light luggage and without constant compromise. But regardless of whether a single or a mother of three children: It seems that the longing for being alone, for turning to one’s own self, is in a state of rapid upheaval (digitization).
Find yourself by retreat and aloneness
And the desire for withdrawal is therefore a very healthy reflex, both socially and psychologically. Dietrich Munz, chairman of the Federal Psychotherapeutic Chamber, says: “People are different in their need for contact and retreat, but in principle, being alone can be a source of strength, an important moment of inner reflection and reflection.” Even solo activities such as reading, gardening or a Nordic Walking round serve to maintain relationships in their own right.
How well we can handle ourselves, whether we experience solo times as an enrichment or as a threat, is also determined by personal experiences, Munz said: “A child learns in his early development that his caregiver is still there, too if you’ve just left the room, that’s the foundation of trust in adult life: having good bonding experiences in your own biography will also help you to be on better terms with relationships and leave more room in relationships. “
From the philosophical point of view (Rebekka Reinhard) it sounds like this: “If we have a basic trust that we are connected with everything, we do not have to feel lonely or overburdened by communication.”
Buddhists call it “inter-religion” – the idea that we are not only secure in close relationships, but also in fleeting moments, in loose networking with the world. Then in the best sense of the word we are alone, with one thing, one salutary and at the same time open to others.