Not ever knowing the contents of another persons head, we are, essentially alone. Of course, this kind of alone, being inescapable and ultimate is not what we mean when we say we feel alone. “I feel alone.” usually means “I feel lonely.” or “I am incapable of distracting myself at this point in time, so I wish to be distracted by others.” This, even when it bleeds into a specific disappointment — is by far the most common meaning. Which is where all of the helpful advice to seek distraction — join a club, get a hobby, take a vacation — comes from. Addressing a triviality with trivialities.
“I feel alone.” is sufficiently indistinguishable from “I feel bored.” as to warrant the same remedy in most cases. In fact, “I feel alone.” might be wholly reducible to “I am bored and slightly horny.” Many people (a disturbing number of them being over 40 and wearing purple) will tell you that there is a vital difference between “I feel alone.” and “I feel lonely.” I think a predilection for this distinction translates well into “I feel bored and slightly horny, and I have read far too many self help books, so I have replaced my capacity for empathy with a shallow, broad and smug collection of re-framing and redirecting strategies which really should only be used by someone with insight, but which I feel free to trot out whenever the occasion affords.”
These are the same cats who hyphenate realize.
A somewhat more sophisticated, if ultimately equally phony re-framing strategy is this: (I am offering this on the off chance that you haven’t heard it before, because it is published in fewer self-help books.) If you are disappointed at not being distracted by any of the people in your life, then that means at this moment you are entirely free of interpersonal compulsion. In other words — usually, in the presence of others, we at least need to take their objectives into account enough to come up with some kind of strategy to deceive or evade them, but if no one is around for us to occupy ourselves with, all of the mental effort we would use for that purpose (or any other) is free for something else.
So an interesting question has the opportunity to arise — What is it, really, that we want to do?
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