An iconic statement that you may well know, was made by the famous Greta Garbo, an actress at her acting peak during the 1930’s. But what did she really mean when she said this?
Well, in actual fact, this statement is somewhat inaccurate as she actually made this comment while in character in one of her films, not in her ‘real life’.
What is interesting however, is that this statement stuck with her, probably more so because in 1941, at the grand old age of 35, Greta stopped acting and essentially became somewhat of a recluse. Though she had friends, she typically shied away most of the time from company, avoided anything to do with the media, very much preferring her own company. She never married, had no children and died alone.
Well, boo-hoo! How are you feeling after reading that?
It sounds terribly sad and depressing does it not, like having a preference to being alone lends itself to misery, lack of relationship and no family or connection with others…but is this really the case?
I have had this discussion with 3 people this very week, whereby I have asked them this very question; ‘Do you feel you get your strength from being with others, or by being alone?’
Ponder this for a moment and think about what the answer is for you? Do you feel like you love being around others? Do you look forward to social gatherings and actually try and avoid any situations where you think you might be alone? Or are you the opposite, you LOVE being alone. You need to have time to yourself to be able to stop, be still and take time to reflect? Maybe, you’ve had a different reaction and you feel annoyed that you feel you have to be one or the other…’I like being alone AND being with others’, you may well be saying to yourself!’
Whatever your answer is, I just invite you to take notice of what this is.
My answer to this question is a resounding ‘I want to be alone’, a la Greta. For me being alone is how I recharge my batteries. I get to a point when I am working or having to interact with people without much of a break on the horizon, where I crave having some alone time. During my time alone, I get to just be still, to dance to the beat of my own natural rhythm and routine (sometimes literally with a good boogie around my office or kitchen) catch up with things at my own pace and generally relax in a way that I just can’t achieve with others around me.
I happen to know people who are also completely the opposite of me and at the first sign of a moment in their diary where they might be alone, they make a solid effort to fill the time by organising ‘things to do with others’, meetings/dates/get-togethers, anything to just be around other people.
Clearly, there is no ‘right’ way to be.
I encourage anyone I am working with in my Coaching to embrace where they ‘get their strength from’, and to seek time and opportunities to do this*. If you know you love being around others for example and it re-charges you, then by all means seek opportunities where you can get this hit! If you like to be alone, then this is equally important for your wellbeing and should be embraced, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you will die alone! It just means that you have to become savvy about getting what you need, especially for those that might be in relationships. Like the person who likes company, see where you can plan ahead in your diary to get an opportunity to recharge those batteries!
I’d love to hear from you and hear about where you get your strength from? Others company or your own company? What does it do for you and how do you make sure you get what you need?
Until next week…or tonight of you are joining us at the meet up!
*As a psychologist I feel it is important to acknowledge here that, as in all facets of our functioning, there are of course healthy boundaries to our behaviours. Being alone or indeed being around others may present as an issue if you can never or very much struggle to do the opposite. These are often rare cases and often you find that the people involved are sometimes aware that their behaviour is having an impact on their daily life, functioning, well-being and relationships. There are also disorders where these behaviours are part of the symptomology.
Please feel free to contact me if you feel you would like more information about this topic*