I just finished reading Anil Seth’s book, “Being You”, which is an exploration of the research currently being done in consciousness. His book makes a brief reference to “solipsism”, the notion that nothing else exists outside your own mind. I’ve come across references to solipsism in several other books over the past few years, and often it’s a disparaging reference more aligned with our tendencies to be self-absorbed. However, I think that looking at solipsism at a slightly angle can be a bit more helpful.
Another book that I’ve really enjoyed again is Nathaniel Branden’s book, “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”. I’ve had this book for decades but it wasn’t until last year that I really made an effort to read & work my way through it. His book provides wonderful & practical insights and tools for working on self-esteem and all of the components that contribute to it.
A central theme of the book, in my opinion, is that it really is up to you. You can’t depend on external support, reinforcement, validation or acceptance from anyone but yourself as you journey through the process of understanding & building your self-esteem.
In this light, I can see solipsism as being a healthy boundary & structure for organizing our own thoughts & beliefs. Considering for a moment that my mind is the only one that truly matters in establishing my own happiness, wants, needs & expectations puts the responsibility squarely in my lap.
As long as I don’t trod upon other’s own boundaries (keeping a healthy & respectful balance with other people’s wants & needs), I can consider my own growth purely from my own perspective. If you’re single or live on your own, you’re already familiar with this concept in your everyday life. Not having anyone who directly depends on you, you alone are responsible for how your day & life unfolds. Empowered choices & healthy compromises are tools we use to navigate.
In this way, solipsism doesn’t have to be equated with arrogance or negative self-centred behaviour. It is simply a reminder that we alone are responsible for our own journey. It also doesn’t mean that we are alone in our journey. If anything, solipsism in this context helps us stay aware of everyone around us and our relationships with other people.
Thank you for the time you’ve taken to read this article and I hope it has resonated with you in some way.