Being alone might cause you to utilize defense mechanisms like compartmentalization to survive
Instead of fixating on the giant, looming problem ahead, Kay chose to divide and conquer. “How do you eat a cow?” asks Kay (remember?). “One bite at a time.”
Whether he knew it or not, that defense mechanisms is compartmentalization, when one stores away emotions like anxieties and fears to focus energy on all the things that need to be done to ensure survival. Another, intellectualization, is demonstrated when rational thinking is used during times of stress to remove oneself emotionally from situation.
“Living in the moment was really important,” says Kay. “Instead of looking at all of the challenges and all of the things that could potentially go wrong, I would just focus on my most pressing need. That moment I was building a fire, I was 110% focused on building that fire.”
Being alone does not always have to be a negative experience
So in the end, what was it about Alan Kay that got him through this without a (mental) scratch?
“There’s a psychological co-dependency that people often have. They cannot be alone; they have to be in a relationship, they have to be with friends. says Dr. Maschi. But if a person has good internal resources, problem solving skills, and [the ability to] not let emotions get the best of them, he might be stronger and might be able to withstand [being alone].”