Connected Aloneness

Hamish Lindop
3 min readJun 11, 2024

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There is a sense in which you are truly alone in the universe, and it is this: no-one will ever *completely* know you, understand you, see things your way, support you, or love you. You are literally not quite like anyone else in the universe who ever has or will be. I’m finding there are great benefits to accepting this truth completely, and learning to be enough and have enough, alone. I can meet my own needs, rest when I am tired, cook when I am hungry, make money when I am poor, sooth my heart when it hurts (mindful of my privilege as a white male that’s made it easier to get to this position). I don’t *need* anything from anyone. I have lots of things to offer others. There are many things that I want. But that’s different! I’m far from perfect, there are many things which are disappointing about me to people I care about. But I do have some things to offer others, and increasingly I’m enjoying this.

And ironically, when I am alone, when I walk in nature, when I’m at home, I’m connected to everything. The trees, the birds, the earth, my partner and my son, the kids in my son’s basketball team, the intermittent whatsapp friends, the sometimes hangout face to face friends, the colleagues, the places, the buildings, and so on.

I’m reading a book called “Passionate Marriage”, it’s nothing short of a revolution in marriage counselling, sex therapy, but more generally I’m finding it’s really helpful to think about how to be in relationship with anything, starting with yourself. It talks about the critical process of differentiation which is understanding who you are, what your values are, being able to look after yourself, and being secure in that as a starting point for all relationships. From there you can be in relationship with a partner without being “emotionally fused”; not asking each other to meet each other’s needs, meeting your own needs, which frees you up to actually want your partner and be mutually supportive without requiring things that you need from them. It’s a subtle but hugely impactful distinction.

And this can be applied to your relationship with almost anything; there’s a way you think things should be, a way others think it should be, or the way things are, and if we can just hold those differences, stay in relationship through the difference, then we can be in real relationship, not just trying to terraform things (and people) into how we’d like them to be. Paradoxically, when we can “hold on to ourselves” to a sufficient level of security, it also allows us to let go; we can start to compromise, accept our disappointment in the difference between the way things are and how we’d like them to be (this is especially helpful for idealists like me!).

What do you think about these ideas? How do you feel about being truly alone? Can you hold onto yourself enough to truly let go? Can you tend to the disappointment in your heart as you embrace reality just as it is? What new opportunities might open up in the space that’s created?

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Hamish Lindop

Sharing insights from community building and social innovation, and reflections on ways of (well) being