By Christine Ingall, author of ‘Solo Success! You CAN do things on your own’ published by Panoma Press (£10.99, September 28th 2017). Available in all good bookshops and online.
Are you one of the increasing number of people these days who live alone? If so, you are part of a trend, particularly amongst middle aged men and women, that has seen single households in the UK rise to 7.7 million in 2016. That’s around a third of all households. Sadly, many experience this as a lifestyle change after divorce, separation or bereavement, when you are probably fragile and vulnerable. And once any novelty has worn off, you might find yourself dissatisfied with staying in with a meal for one. Are you finding this familiar?
Some of you may also know that, if you let this state of affairs continue for too long, it becomes harder to change anything. I should know. During my time living alone for 30 years I experienced that sofa-stalemate a number of times. But, I recognised what was happening. Put simply, it was the onset of fear. Specifically, if you are used to being seen out and about as half of a couple, it is the fear of being seen to be on your own. You might describe the fear that holds you back as not wanting to make a fool of yourself, do something stupid, say the wrong thing in public. But make no mistake, these are all symptoms of the BIG fear – the fear of being visibly alone. This is understandable: you are used to being partnered, with your significant other. You are out of your comfort zone. This fear can grip so strongly that you just stop going out and doing things that you used to enjoy.
However, help is at hand with my 10 tips to get YOU out and about successfully on your own.
- Write down exactly what you are afraid of. Try to be specific and honest. It may be more than one thing, so make a list. It will all add up to the fear of being visibly alone.
- Imagine your fear as an object, toy or possession and give it characteristics, mannerisms, even a name. It is, after all, something that you take around with you.
- Now imagine taking your object somewhere that you like to visit – and then throwing it away. You are throwing away your fear. You may have to do this more than once.
Start Small Scale
This is about the activities that you might want to take up or re-visit – things you like to do.
- Stay local where you are familiar with places and what’s going on. Websites should provide most, if not all, the details you need. If you need help with navigating the Internet, your local library or college will offer, often free, courses.
- Look at doing something that you enjoy with your family and friends (the cinema, a show, bingo, a coffee) as something that you can try on your own.
- Arrange to visit, or revisit, a favourite local building or place of historical interest. These are likely to offer a variety of things for all tastes, such as collections, gardens/parkland, a café and a shop.
- Get involved with a charity that is dear to your heart, as a volunteer or a member, that will bring you into contact with other like-minded people.
Plan an event
- Do the necessary research – see point 4. The work you do will pay dividends.
- Set yourself a goal to achieve by a certain date.
- Make a plan for achieving your goal – and stick to it!
Follow this advice and you are bound to find Solo Success!