In her book, Solemate, author Lauren Mackler guides readers on an in-depth and inevitably challenging journey of personal discovery and development. Mackler’s goal, as she describes it, is to help readers to master what she calls “the art of aloneness” so that they can improve their relationships with themselves and also with others. In the introduction, Mackler strives to clue readers in on what to expect in the pages that follow but also, and perhaps more importantly, on what will be expected of them in return since mastering the art of aloneness is an active process that requires a certain level of engagement and commitment in order for it to be truly successful.
Early on in the book, Mackler opens up to readers by going into great detail about her own personal experiences and the various roles that those events played in the evolution of her own development. I personally appreciated the author’s candor since it gives readers an opportunity to connect with her on a more personal level and to better understand where she is coming from and how she came to master her own aloneness. By using real examples from her own life in addition to snippets of examples from the lives of others and frequently citing relevant information from the work of other authors, Mackler takes a step-by-step approach to showing readers how to deliberately take the unique life challenges that they face and gradually mold them into opportunities for personal growth and emotional development.
According to Mackler, mastering the art of aloneness is the key to overcoming the barriers that obstruct one’s path to happiness and fulfillment. Though the basic idea that one cannot achieve happy and fulfilling relationships with others until one has successfully done so with the self is certainly nothing new, I do think that Mackler did a phenomenal job of breaking that grueling and often confusing process up into a series of baby steps that serve to minimize the levels of frustration and intimidation that one is likely to encounter along the way.
One of the things that I most enjoyed about Solemate was the extensive assortment of self-assessments and exercises that helps to keep readers actively engaged in the process and to develop a better understanding of how to apply the tools provided within their own unique situations. In that same regard, however, I do feel compelled to offer a word of caution. While I do think that the process of exploring one’s past and present emotional challenges has some genuinely cathartic benefits, in certain situations (or when attempted by people who are far too emotionally unstable), it could sometimes present more problems than it resolves. Since the process of working through some of the exercises in the book could potentially unleash a flood of emotional issues that readers might not have otherwise been consciously aware of, I would highly recommend enlisting the help of a trained professional therapist if the process becomes too overwhelming.
The thing that I liked least about Solemate was probably its length. At more than 300 pages, it did begin to feel somewhat tedious toward the end but considering the thoroughness of Mackler’s approach, I suppose it was also necessary.
Overall, I was surprised by how much I actually learned about myself in the process of reading through the book. It really helped me to develop a better understanding of where I have been, where I am now and how to enhance the aspirations I have for my future. I think that through her book, Lauren Mackler has provided a truly valuable resource that can help all kinds of people (regardless of their relationship status) to begin improving the relationships that they have with themselves and with others. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am confident that you will too if you decide to give it a go.