Despite all the ways technology allows us to quickly be in contact with one another, this hasn’t stopped our feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can be a very painful experience and for some it can start from an early age that remains like a constant shadow in their lives.
Have you ever noticed that one can be in a group of people and still, ‘feel lonely?’, demonstrating that loneliness has more do to with ourselves than whether someone is with us. It is for this reason that we can help ourselves to understand these painful experiences by taking a closer look at ourselves.
Loneliness usually stems from a poor relationship with our selves. That is, we are uncomfortable with our self.
Not there for self
It is by being uncomfortable with ourselves that often supports our drive to seek another because we feel we are unable to be with self. That is, we are not truly there with ourselves. So in order to ease this pain we seek someone else to substitute self that we cannot be with. It is no surprise that clinical research shows that one of the main reasons both men and women often get into a relationship, and then often stay in it, is to avoid being alone.
Not being comfortable with ourselves comes from a wide variety of reasons and can often stem from childhood experiences. Negative childhood experiences including abandonment, abuse and feeling unloved help create a negative self-image. This image usually believes we are not worthy, loveable and don’t fit in. It’s this negative self-image together with our unprocessed painful feelings that generates loneliness.
Environmental pressures can trigger or evoke our lonely feelings including the ending of a relationship or prolonged unemployment, often fuelling the underlying feelings of not feeling ‘good enough’.
A common coping strategy that often originates in childhood, is to not fully experience life as it occurs during painful moments. This strategy leads to the seeds of separation being planted within us, as what is not experienced is then stored and ignored.
Alone without me
If we continue to avoid fully experiencing painful situations, we allow more painful feelings to be stored within ourselves. This intensifies our sense of self-separation. We then become increasingly uncomfortable to be with the painful parts of ourselves. We are no longer truly there with self as we are avoiding the part of us in pain. Hence it would seem only natural to feel lonely, as I am, ‘alone without me’.
To clear loneliness requires us to truly be there with ourselves and feel these painful, uncomfortable and unprocessed feelings.
Run into, not away
For some this can seem frightening as loneliness can feel like an abyss, an endless black emptiness that threatens to swallow and destroy us. However avoiding our lonely feelings only prolongs and increases the strength of these negative feelings. A healthier approach would be to begin to allow ourselves to feel any underlying uncomfortable feelings. That is, truly be with ourselves and be open to feeling our pain in order that we may clear our loneliness.
From a more spiritual perspective, loneliness derives itself from our misplaced identity in an ego, which strives to feel unique, special and to be an individual aspect of the whole. An ego only feels alive and the ego pattern can only survive by constantly reminding itself to believe it is unique and separate from the oneness.
The lonely ego
Typically the ego’s perception of self is that it is a problem, often feeling insecure and unsafe in the world. The ego’s denial of the oneness coupled with the common perception that the self is a problem feels painful to us. For in the eyes of the ego, it seems, ‘I am alone with me and my problems’. The more identified we are to these egoic thought patterns and associated feelings the more likely we are to experience loneliness.
Loneliness serves to wake us up
From a larger perspective loneliness is a great enabler for evoking change in our life. It can help us to come out of our limiting self-images and painful feelings. Loneliness can also serve to wake us up from our sense of separation and our misplaced identification in the egoic mechanism.
Ultimately loneliness requires us to go into and feel the place we may have often wanted to avoid, the parts of ourselves in pain. It requires us to experience all of our feelings while displacing any untrue held beliefs about self. It can lead us on a spiritual journey, encouraging us to discover for ourselves if there is any truth in the sense of separation.
If every cloud has a silver lining then the gift of loneliness is that it is a portal. When fully entered, it reveals how we can never truly feel alone or separate because we realise we are connected to everything in life.
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Published: February 2021