The fear of getting old is a much more common issue today than in previous generations. Life expectancy has increased, as have divorce rates. Children leave home and live overseas. Lack of mobility or finances can also inhibit the ability to meet up with friends and family.
If a secret part of you, worries about being alone in your old age, then you are not alone, however there is a way to combat it….
Being alone and loneliness are different experiences.
Someone can choose to be alone and enjoy the experience of solitude. It can be a rejuvenating experience and help with mental clarity and emotional balance from a busy life.
Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time, it’s a normal emotional state, which is part of being human. Unlike being alone, it’s a choice to feel the emptiness and exclusion of loneliness, although it may well be transient and situation dependant.
When loneliness continues for too long, then this is when problems can occur.
Loneliness encourages withdrawal and can become a spiralling decent into a living hell. Anxiety, stress and depression can easily result if measures are not taken.
However, when a person experiences a fear of being alone, then this is something quite different and more serious.
Like any fear, it may not eventuate, and the fear is unnecessary and unjustified.
Some people that share their fears of being alone in old age, are not already at that point of aloneness. They’re still working, still socialising and are often still in relationships.
The fear is a future fear.
They ask question such as…
What happens when my career ends, after I’ve handed over the business to my successor?
For some people, this fear will drive them to have relationships for all the wrong reason. The idea of being married, even if it’s an unhappy one, is an insurance policy from facing old age alone.
Any relationship based on fear is destined to be unhappy and unfulfilling.
Being over needy in this type of relationship is also common. Over possessiveness and control over the spouse’s movements, is an indication of lack of trust.
Any relationship that has no trust is destined to be unhappy and unfulfilling.
Fear of loneliness causes people to become workaholics. They feel a sense of purpose and belonging in the work environment, that they may not be feeling at home with their family.
In effect, they isolate themselves further from their family. It becomes a vicious cycle of avoidance and deterioration of the relationships.
And how do people cope when they find themselves in this situation?
Alcohol, drug, sex and gambling are all common choices for the workaholic, whose looking for an outlet of distraction and escape.
In essence, they keep themselves busy, so that they don’t have to face the reality of their life.
So, what is the solution to this seemingly hopeless situation, that people find themselves in?
It’s not until they’re able to find enjoyment and happiness in their own company and are able to reconcile their relationships with their family, that they can be truly free from their fear.
And that happiness and joy does not come from the external shiny things that the material world offers. It come from within themselves. It comes from focusing their energy and thoughts on their inner mind, on the essence of who they are.
This journey into the inner mind is just that, a journey. You cannot find a quick fix to this problem with a book or a chat with a friend at the bar.
No, this is a lifelong journey for many people, and it begins with acceptance.
Only then, can you truly begin your journey of facing your fear of aloneness and make peace with yourself.
Because then, you are ready to take action. To take control of your life and become the master of your own destiny. And loneliness in old age does not have to be a part of it.