The Seduction of the ‘Born Alone’ Myth
Many of us have heard the expression that ‘we are born alone and we die alone'; many of us have nodded our heads at the wisdom of it, feeling that contains a truth. It seems to speak to a basic and recognisable part of our existence, and yet it is also fundamentally and obviously wrong. How can we refute the ‘born alone' myth?
We know we aren't born alone…
The part of the quote that is fundamentally wrong is the part about being born alone; all of us were born at the time we left our mother's body. Further, the first nine months of our life, the most formative part of our existence, were not alone. We spent this time enclosed within another person's body in a deeply symbiotic relationship. No matter what our experiences were since then, we were certainly not born alone.
… but for some people it feels it
And yet for many people the expression ‘we are born alone and we die alone' seems to fit their experience. There is no doubt that many people on this world live lives that are lonely, isolated and seemingly empty of meaningful human contact. Lives like this can be demoralising and heartbreaking for the people living them, and small wonder – there is much evidence to suggest that the natural state for a human is to be is in close relationship with other humans.
The temptation to give up
If we feel this, and we have tried to do something about it but have not had any success, it can be tempting to give up or to try to work it out for ourselves. If our relationships haven't been successful sometimes we think if we read enough books about them or if we see it enough television shows about them then we will understand relationships. This can often be a dead-end path – there is no substitute for a relationship than to be in one
Understanding and working it out
This is one of the reasons that psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic relationships have appeal for people. Within a psychotherapeutic relationship, you can work towards trying to understand about what it is that keeps you from having successful relationships with other people.
Psychotherapy is uniquely situated to be able to help with this because often uses the psychotherapeutic relationship itself as a stand-in for other relationships. This is quite an unconscious process for the client; they find themselves naturally relating to their therapist in similar ways to the way they relate to other people. Far from being a problem, this can be a turning point in the psychotherapy as it allows the actual dynamic to be seen at close hand, to be understood and to be worked through without criticism, shame or judgement.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill
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