Every now and then I hear of people adjudicating their sense of loneliness as being the crux of their current life’s suffering. I like to ponder what loneliness really is ….. Is it the heart’s wanton yearning for love…… to give and receive love? Is it the soul’s search for its counterpart in another? Is it the craving for a deep understanding and connection with another human being? Or is simply the physical desire to be close to another person, the seeking out for the tender touch of a loving companion? I will suppose that all of these notions are true at some time or another for each and every one of us.
Ever reliable wikipedia expresses loneliness to be:
an unpleasant feeling in which a person experiences a strong sense of emptiness and solitude resulting from inadequate levels of social relationships
This explanation brings to my mind several concepts that I wish to appeal to you.
Loneliness is a subjective experience however not one that is necessarily unpleasant. Perhaps it does not have the fun and excitement of happiness and joy however it has an equally precious place in the continuum of human emotions. In fact the sweet sense of loneliness has been the precursor for many artists and creatives greatest works. People are filled with a sense of longing that gives birth to great bursts of inspiration. The contrast that the sense of loneliness provides compared to the feeling of being socialy awash gives our creative minds the time and space to culminate our experiences and create something new from them, even if it simply a fresh understanding.
Emptiness is a good thing. You cannot make space for new people in your life if there is no space to fill. If you want to embrace a new relationship into your life then emptiness is a prerequisite is it not? Enjoy the feeling that there is space in your life for new and fulfilling relationships with people you haven’t met yet.
Loneliness does not simply stem from “inadequate levels of social relationships”. People can have a great many friends or family members whom they consider close and yet still feel lonely. It is not the quantity of personal relationships that count but the quality of them. It is about how deeply we connect with one another. Which also brings me to the concept that aloneness and loneliness are by far not at all the same. One can be alone and not lonely….. And one can be completely emotionally and physically interlaced with another and still feel deeply lonely. I confess today, that one of the loneliest times in my life were when I was in a relationship which I knew from the external perspective appeared quite perfect. The relationship I was in didn’t fulfil my personal needs for a deeper connection with another person and also didn’t allow me the space and trust to seek that closeness out in other friendships. By contrast I have now been single for close to a year and it just happens that this year has been one of the most fulfilling, fascinating and self-completing years thus far.
Every now and then, like to today, I lean into my own personal sense of loneliness – a feeling full of sweet sentiments that is deeply wistful with longing to be understood and accepted by another. It is a feeling that I have learnt to enjoy. I find it settling and reassuring that despite my efforts to be a whole and gratified human being I still have the sense that I am a part of something bigger than simply me, that I still crave others to complete the circle of my life experience. I allow the yearning to wash over me – a longing that becomes a creative outburst to share and connect with others around me – people who may share my sentiments.
Something that I have pondered often is my observation that loneliness appears to be more prevalent in larger cities than elsewhere. Often the loneliest people are those who are surrounded by so many. Perhaps we have become so deeply entrenched into our own little nuclear worlds that we have lost the art of connecting with one another. We have developed a false sense of separateness from those we do not know and forgotten that we are all in fact connected and a greater part of a whole. I have been following a friends attempt on twitter to reach out and connect with fellow commuters on the bus every day with many failed endeavours which he comically outlines in 140 characters to be due to people’s attention to their iPods and Facebook and so on, everyone on a solo mission with no awareness of those around them.
Recognising our own sense of loneliness as a deep desire to belong and be a part of something greater is a wonderful stepping stone in self realisation. Loneliness is something that we can all learn from and get comfortable with since, like all emotions, is something that will eventually fade and give way to somethings else. As Buddha might say this too, will pass. If you have been struggling with your feelings of loneliness there are some easy ways to transform it from something lacklustre to something transcendental.

  • Value the friendships and relationships you currently have. Everyone in your life brings something unique and precious with them and your appreciation of other’s gifts, talents and individuality will give you a sense of richness.
  • Don’t elect one single person or a romantic relationship to cover off all of the interactive human connections in your life. Your personality is far too complex and intricate to be matched and complimented by only one person.
  • Nurture your sense of self. The more you know and understand yourself, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the easier it is to open up and connect with others. People are attracted to people who like, know and are comfortable with themselves.
  • Allow yourself to feel lonely from time to time. Don’t run from the feeling by grabbing you phone and calling the next available person. Give yourself the time and space to stay with the feeling rather than resisting it. Recognise it as a little message from your innermost self as a desire to connect more deeply. not only with other but with yourself too.
  • Enjoy having time alone. Now is your chance to be completely selfish and do something just for you. Run a bubble bath. Read that cheesy novel. Write. Sing. Make or create something. Dance naked through the house. The dream is yours!

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