“Ordinary men hate solitude. But the master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe” -Lao Tzu
A fundamental aspect of loneliness is isolation and feeling disconnected from ourselves and others. Whether preempted by such life changing events as death of a loved one, change in marital status, or geographic move, the feeling of loneliness is part of the human condition. However, prolonged loneliness, separation, and chronic isolation negatively impact our overall well-being. During these challenging times, masses of people are suffering in quiet desperation from lack of intimacy, support and social connection. Even in the midst of being surrounded by others, many still feel hopeless and distraught with loneliness. These feelings of emptiness and unworthiness can be exasperated by increased anxiety, depression and stress.
We have a certain personality image that defines how we see ourselves in the context of our social life that may have to be redefined or reconstructed as a result of significant life changes. For example, a divorced person, now single, may not fit in with the social network of married couples.The distress and loneliness of a bereaved widow, after the loss of a spouse, may have long term effects on overall well-being and stability. Leaving relationships, possessions and familiar places to relocate to a new geographic area can also have a substantial impact on personal adjustment.
Unhealthy ways of coping with loneliness may result in indulging in addictive behaviors and immersing ourselves in meaningless outer distractions that bring temporary and fleeting moments of satisfaction. We have the capacity to reinvent ourselves, experience a renewed self and return to our natural state of being in the world.
Bridging the gap to overcome loneliness
How do we bridge the gap between loneliness and aloneness? How can we develop a better relationship with ourselves? How can we cultivate aloneness? Our feelings are unique to each of us and must be acknowledged and respected. Some of us naturally cope while others find it difficult.
There is power in aloneness with the opportunity for solitude to deepen our relationship with ourselves. John Paul Sartre quotes, “If you are lonely when you are alone, you’re in bad company”. Aloneness is a state of mind and our alone time can be a doorway to inner peace, openness to receive divine guidance, and to become more content. We can cultivate aloneness through self-discovery, conscious personal engagement, being yourself, trusting yourself and valuing enriching relationships.
Alone time provides opportunities for self-reflection and to ask ourselves critical questions such as, “What are my needs and desires at this time in my life? What would I like to learn more about? What are my interests? Be curious and have courage to explore these opportunities for personal growth and development. Thus us a time to invest in ourselves by reading inspirational literature, taking online classes, connecting with virtual communities, and participating in workshops, some that may be at no cost. Whether virtual or in-person, these avenues for change can inspire creativity, expand skills, and enhance our connections with those who have similar interests. People who see themselves as interesting and who have the ability to share, interact and connect with others feel happier and more confident.
Conscious personal engagement
Be your own best friend. How are you interacting with yourself? Be aware of your internal dialogue. Our constant mind chatter can be additive or subtractive. Does it make you feel assured or is it belittling and make you feel dis-empowered. Nurture your inner self. Rumi quotes, “There is nothing outside of yourself, look within. Everything you want is there – you are That”. Whether it is visualization, meditation or verbalizing loving messages, do what it takes to feel joyful and positive.
We desire the comfort and safety of healthy relationships. Learn form life lessons and be resilient. Be open to honing skills to have better relationships and make new friends. Feeling desperate and hungry for companionship can make us vulnerable to victimization. Trusting ourselves and making viable relationship choices is crucial to our self-esteem and well-being. Protect yourself and establish healthy boundaries. Be alert, pay attention, and quickly discern relationships that do not feel right and quickly move on.
Love being with yourself and like your own company. It is important to acknowledge and honor feelings associated with grief and loneliness as a step toward healing and setting realistic intentions to become empowered. Love yourself fully and completely. Nurture yourself with loving-kindness. Be who you are and not what others want you to be. Above all be comfortable and content with who you truly are. Buddha quotes, “Be someone you want to be around”. As you demonstrate positive qualities toward yourself, you will be able to develop caring and loving relationships with others.
Value enriching relationships
Over the course of our lives, there are those who make a difference during critical phases of our lives. It is helpful to remember, acknowledge and value those who have added to our lives. What would my life be like without them? What qualities do they possess that enriched my life? Appreciate those who touched your life and relationships that have endured the test of time. It is important to ponder how these life changing endearing friendships and soulful connections transformed your life. Journaling can be an essential reflective tool to remind us how much we are loved and cared for and can offset feelings of loneliness. Be grateful and pass on those qualities to others.
You be be alone without being lonely. Enjoy the richness of your own company and those who have contributed to your life. Being at home with ourselves brings contentment with fearless courage to trust life as our path unfolds. Reach out and seek support and professional help and guidance when needed. Be the master of your life. Set your intentions and be open to possibilities. Be empowered by the internal wisdom of knowing that you are not separate and ultimately, you are not alone.
Dr. Jean Marie Farish and published on blog.sivanaspirit.com/