Ever hear that phrase “You’re born alone, you live alone, you die alone”? I’ve come to dislike that phrase. And I’ve come to realize how untrue it really is.
I’ll start with “You’re born alone.”
I’m a Mom of a beautiful, smart and thoughtful child (well he is most of the time). But I’m fairly sure I was there when he was born. Within seconds he was being held by his father, caressed by me and loved even before he entered this world and took his first breath.
With very few exceptions on this Earth, the very moment we feel the air on our body and fill our lungs, we are touched and cared for with kindness and love. So how did this concept develop that we’re born alone?
We are connected by powerful and strong bonds to our Mother from the moment we’re conceived. Even when that conception was unexpected or unwanted. It’s a connection that isn’t explained by mere physical links. But by connections of energy and yes, possibly even by spirit. Of course as a Minister I believe we are connected by spirit, but even if you take that spiritual concept away, there is a connection of energy and physical links that bind us with our mother.
Now of course some will take that to extremes and point out the flaws of this idea in cases of rape, or unwanted pregnancies, or a mother who’s high or drunk all the time. Extremes can always push the edges of the envelope and on the surface breakdown a theory, especially if you yourself have not lived through the extreme situation. As an abuse survivor I think I can still be qualified to say that even in extreme circumstances, that connection between mother and embryo still exists. The type or quality of that connection may differ, but it’s still a link that exists.
Consider the number of stories you hear about children separated at birth from their biological mother who later feel drawn and compelled to seek her out. That maternal connection isn’t something tangible that can be explained with science or often times even logic. But countless examples exist around the world about its pull between child and mother that its link and very existence cannot be denied.
There are even connections between children and their biological father. Let’s not degrade that link either. We are all the child of two people (yes even if that bond was created in a test tube). Our parents are often the most important people in our lives from the very moment we’re in this world. How can we dismiss that connection with a simple phrase “You’re born alone”? You weren’t created alone. You didn’t grow outside the womb alone. You weren’t born alone.
Even adopted children feel a great connection to the parents who raise them. While their bond is developed through physical interaction and not biological means, it is equally as important and strong in many if not most cases. We as an individual living being want to have that link with a nurturing person who cares for us, helps us grow and to learn about life. It is part of what molds us into who we are as we grow up. And many spend their lives trying to make that person they see as Mom or Dad proud of who they have become because of that physical and emotional connection.
We go through life making connections with each other every day. Even the hermit will come across some other living thing in this world at some point. It’s merely impossible to be alive on this planet and be completely alone. We are even linked to the spider that builds a web across the path that we tread each day. We are never alone. Not in spirit and not in the physical world either.
So where does this idea that “we’re born alone, live alone and die alone come from?”
Many people choose to segregate themselves from the world around them and be alone within their being. And it is that choice, that gives credence to the idea of “lonesomeness”. But that answer brings up another question, Why? Why do we choose to segregate ourselves and feel alone?
I wrote one of my doctorate dissertations on the topic of Spiritual Psychology and Dealing With Grief (PDF). In it I discuss the concepts of Existential therapy and how it relates to Metaphysics and the ideas behind Spiritual counseling. Specifically grief counseling. But to get there, I had to cover what Spiritual counseling is about and what it’s based on. That journey began with a conversation concerning existential therapy.
For this post, let me briefly explain what this approach is about. Existential therapy starts with the belief that although humans are essentially alone in the world, we long to be connected to others. People want to have meaning in each other’s lives, but ultimately we must come to realize that we cannot depend on others for our validation. The result of this revelation is anxiety in the knowledge that our validation must come from within and not from others. Which often makes us feel alone in the world.
The idea of that “feeling” doesn’t make it a reality. Even someone who is surrounded by people can feel alone and lonely for one reason, because they choose to. But in this approach we find one of the basic concepts that began the idea that “humans are essentially alone in the world“. And it’s that one phrase that I’ve always had an issue with in my academic studies in relation to counseling. Science too often dismisses the idea of spirit or even the simple premise of energy connections, because it isn’t something tangible that can be tested or proven. So it dismisses the idea that we’re connected from birth, through life and in death. Simply because it can’t explain it.
Irvine Yalom (1980) identified four major areas of existential thought that are often adhered to today. He defined these as 1) Death, 2) Freedom and Responsibility, 3) Isolation and Loneliness, and 4) Meaninglessness. Yalom suggests these areas do not answer the ultimate questions, but rather views them as existential fears, which individuals must learn to cope or deal with.
In other words, how we choose to relate to our own fears determines how we respond to these cycles in our lives. If we allow the fears to win, be they rational or irrational, we are making the choice to feel that way. The idea of free will and choice can become an overwhelming responsibility that causes someone to feel isolated and alone out of fear. But we have to remember we are making the choice to feel that way. Even if it’s an unconscious choice. We are still making a subconscious decision on how to deal with or handle the situation at hand.
Fear is a powerful weapon we use against ourselves. We allow others to create fear within us as well. Here’s an example of that. Yesterday my husband told me about a study concerning Safety and how irrational our views are on that topic. After 9/11 people in the U.S. overwhelming stopped flying on planes because of the fear of terrorism. They began driving everywhere. The result was a heightened increase in traffic deaths. Even before 9/11, driving was more dangerous and more likely to cause a death than flying on a plane.
Although this created a false sense of security to be in your own car where you control more of the travel experience, it was an important emotional choice for the psyche. It took away the fear and allowed individuals to feel as though they were in control and not alone. People made the choice to feel secure, even if it wasn’t a real or valid response with a practical outcome. It was a choice not to feel afraid.
Fear is used against us every day in our modern society. Financial fear especially is the biggest fear that drives nearly everything we do or experience. Fear of insurance and medical costs especially impact our lives everyday. It’s not the idea of “safety”, but the idea of how much not being safe can cost.
Take the diving board at your local pool. Most pools no longer have a diving board, because of the potential of accidents and the higher cost of insurance if you do have one. Money drives the fear. Not safety. And sadly that seems to be true in nearly everything we come in contact with.
We didn’t used to be so damn afraid of everything. Living life was more important than how much it cost to live life. The experience, not having regrets, not “playing it safe” but living in the moment was what used to be important. We made strides and innovations. We excelled at things, built things and achieved things that were thought to be impossible. We found inspiration in each other and didn’t focus on the differences so much. We didn’t have the need to control everything, but rather we lived our lives and enjoyed the adventure of life.
Today more than ever people are connected to everything that happens around the world. We walk around with cell phones that have turned the world into a small place where we see, hear or read about the little events in a person’s life, or the big events occurring in another country far away. And it’s not the news of inspiration that grabs our attention, it’s the drama, trauma and fear occurring in someone else’s life that flies to the top of the news columns.
Fear has taken over our society and become the driving force in nearly everything we come in contact with. Some of these fears are warranted and do help us with insuring our own security. I wouldn’t suggest not wearing your seat-belt for instance. But don’t allow fear to control your own perspectives about the world around you and how you fit in it.
Don’t let it keep you from speaking up when you see wrong, or closing your eyes when you witness an injustice. Don’t let it keep you from getting involved and stopping an abuse or attack on someone who needs help. Don’t record the event with your cell phone! Stop it from needing to be filmed in the first place!
Making the choice to be involved in life is how you beat fear and end the feeling of being alone. You are not born in this world alone, you can’t act like you’re on a deserted island during your life either. Even if your interaction is nothing more than a smile at the clerk in your local coffee shop, you connect with people every day and in every moment of your life. Acknowledge it, don’t ignore it.
Even in death you are connected to others. Those who will miss you and mourn your passing are greatly impacted by your crossing. Of course as a spiritual minister I believe in spirit and that we cross over into a spiritual realm of existence from this physical one. I’ve read too many accounts of near death experiences, I’ve seen too many spirits as a psychic and I’ve had too many of my own experiences that tell me there is an existence after this one. The idea of being alone in death is something I know to be false because of my experiences, the perspectives I’ve developed from research and study. Its my truth, it may not be yours.
When my father passed, it was a conscious choice to let go and move on. He was in congenital heart failure, and being kept alive by equipment. He asked to be taken off the equipment and for us to let him go. The moment he was taken off oxygen, in the corner of the room I saw the spirit of my paternal grandmother and my father’s older brother. I knew they were there to guide his spirit from this world to the next. He wasn’t alone in his journey into spirit and he wouldn’t be alone when he got there either.
Over 80% of the world’s population believes in some type of spiritual existence, yet we fear moving into it. It’s understandable, because it’s an unknown in the practical sense of what it feels like, what will happen to “us” and so on. But those unknowns are often met with fear of being alone when it happens instead of a sense of security that we’ll be with someone or something familiar.
If you’re reading this article you probably have some type of spiritual belief, even if it’s simply a belief in the paranormal and not associated with a spiritual practice or religion. But even if you’re an atheist and you found your way here, consider the practical experiences of your life that may be examples of the connections you have.
These are the connections you have developed with people you’ve met during your life. There are some people you’ve had a strong connection with, people who you feel close to. Some of those connections maybe with someone who you know so well that you almost know what they’re thinking when something happens. These connections can’t be defined in scientific or logical terms. You know they exist, because you’ve experienced them first hand. Some may call that connection love, others friendship, and still others may simply dismiss it as a link between family that is created over time. Whatever it’s called, it’s not something that can be scientifically measured or proven to be real.
In other words, love is not something that can be measured or proven through science. But yet we believe it exists. That intangible thing is what binds us together in life. It’s the connection that can’t be explained that brings us together in birth, through life and even through death. Call it energy, call it spirit, call it whatever you would like, it’s the mechanism that overcomes the fear, provides the control over free will and choice and links us together in life and through death.
Make the conscious choice to see the positive connections you have and ignore the negative ones that only want to instill their fear into your life. We are not alone when we’re born. We don’t live alone through out our life. And we are not alone when our soul has completed its mission here on Earth and is ready to move back into spirit.
Don’t allow the fear of others, or the fear of the unknown keep you from reaching out and making the choice to be involved in the life you lead. Don’t allow it to segregate you from those around you who do care about you, and love you. Live your life with the abundance of self-love, love of others and love for life, especially in the face of anger, hate and fear. The practical exercise of doing that will attract more of that same love and kindness to your life. And that will create more connections that will show you how un-alone you really are.
Whither you’re feeling bullied, or separated from life because you feel unloved, there is always someone who will be there for you if you’ll turn from the fear. Be it your parents, a sibling or a friend, someone is in your life who has an abundance of compassion and care to listen to you and help guide you through whatever you face. And if you feel you don’t have someone like that, pick up the phone and find a therapist who will be that person. Who will show you how to find that person within yourself and overcome of the fear.
You choose how you relate to the world around you. You can make that choice out of fear, or you can make the choice to love yourself, validate yourself and define who you are by your definition and not by the definition of others.
You are never alone when you approach life with this view. No one else puts the label on your chest. That’s your responsibility. No one else defines what that label says. Only your actions and deeds create that definition. No one elses fear controls how you walk the path of your own life. So set down the baggage that others have heaped onto your pallet and walk away from it. It’s not yours, don’t carry it.
If you don’t want to be alone, you’re the only person who can change that. You mold your self-image in the same manner that you mold your physical image. If you don’t like what you see, change it. You’re the only one who can.
© 2013 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.