How feeling alone, separate and isolated causes us grief

One of our big human dilemmas or challenges is the extent to which we feel connected to another and the degree to which we feel separate. Feeling separate is a classic ego characteristic.

When a couple fall out in a blazing row, they may both be angry but they are probably upset too, and one underlying sense is of the gulf between them and how alone each feels. It’s a classic example of the dance between being together and separate, in Gestalt terms between confluence and isolation. Each may have their positions and their points of view but both are likely to be acutely aware of the gap between them. They may of course make up and a driver in that could be the fear of aloneness or of losing the other one. It might be love of course, but it is often worth exploring how much the fear factor of separation and isolation also plays a part.

Another way this ego characteristic can operate is feeling different from others, which also brings in a tendency to compare oneself with others and to see “good” and “bad” points in oneself or with others as a comparison. Being separate could include a tendency to pull apart or not get involved, even to prizing independence. One might not like to get too close and fear closeness and intimacy.

Existentialists speak of the existential dilemma of the fact of death and the fear very many have of what might happen when their lives end. It underlies much of the fear of separation and isolation, that there might for example be nothing, a void. Also we speak of whether a person sees a void in their lives as barren or fertile.

You could also say that what humans need is love, and the feeling of separation is a very painful revival of the fear of not being loved.

Learning to face the void, to experience the fear of isolation and to move through it, can be an enormous healing, in that what people can find is an immense love that lies beyond it. Because when we finally really let go of fear, that all there really is. People who have near-death experiences or who move through immense suffering and have an awakening experience report this occurring. We’re not really alone and isolated. That’s ego. We’re all One. The pain and the tragedy of being human is that we somehow many of us often seem to have to go through the pain of separation to find this out.