Ask Dr. Allen – People who need people…

photo by Mike Chickey

by Dr. Greg Allen

As the song says, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. 

Sometimes we ask, do we need other people in our lives? Or is it easier to go it alone?

Haven’t we been disappointed and let down so many times by people we trusted?

“‘Being comfortable in your own skin,” is an often used expression to describe being okay being alone. But many of us cannot handle being alone. It creates anxiety, fear, loneliness and can bring up bad memories. If that is our reality, then we need to gradually work on it being okay to be alone. We can start with journaling about what is going on in our thoughts as we think about being alone. Even the scary and negative thoughts are good to write down. Journaling is very effective in helping us put words to our feelings and experiences. The act of identifying the feeling or thought and then writing it down (not typing on a keyboard) is helpful. Reading what we have written to see what is happening inside of us is also useful.

Journaling can be a beginning for us to understand what the “being alone” uncomfortableness is all about. We can gradually increase the time we are alone. If you have a busy schedule and hardly ever get any alone time, it would be good to carve out some time. Journal, go for a walk, read a good book, listen to music or do a hobby. 

Don’t let the rush of life cause you to avoid yourself. We need to have time by ourselves, time when we can experience solitude, reflection and peace.

Together Time

While it’s good to have alone time, many of us are alone too much. If that is you, then you will need to schedule meaningful, productive, and enjoyable time with others into your life. This may be attending a talk, joining a club or community group or getting together with family, friends or acquaintances. The goal would be to not be alone, and to practice being with someone else. It can bring life to your soul. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to reach out to others, so as to not be alone so much.

We need a balance of alone time and together time. If your kids are little and you are working a job, obviously alone time is hard to find. But maybe you can schedule something on the weekend or an hour here or there that is just for you. 

There is nothing more meaningful in life than the connection with another human. People need people. We need each other. This has always been humanity’s need and desire. We are wired to desire to be loved and to love others. This deepest need can be met by intentional scheduling of connecting times with other people. There is not a greater joy than giving care and kindness and love to another person. This is true whether they are family or not. 

So don’t let busyness or fears or past negative experiences limit you from the joy of relationships and the peace of being by yourself.

Dr. Greg Allen is a Licensed Therapist practicing in Palos Verdes Estates and San Pedro. ( He is also the founder and director of Freedom4U, a non-profit that seeks to guide youth towards their life purpose and thereby reduce risky lifestyles. ( He also directs the non-profit Hearts Respond, focusing on supporting LA Harbor families in social-emotional and creative areas. ( PEN


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