Loneliness is a feeling
Loneliness is one of the scourges of humanity. It can affect anyone of any age male or female. Whether you’re a PhD or high school dropout, and yes, even rich or poor, you’re equally vulnerable.
What exactly is loneliness? You sure know it when you got it, but might not be able to put your finger on just what is loneliness. Having a better understanding of just what it is will help you on your way to overcoming loneliness.
Loneliness is a combination of FEELINGS that intimacy, understanding, friendship, and acceptance are missing from your life. It is a FEELING of isolation or separation from others, a FEELING of being without others – all alone.
It is very important to be aware that loneliness is nothing more than a feeling. After all, you are not your arms or legs, for they are just parts of your body. Similarly, you are not just your feelings, which are just parts of your psyche.
Did you ever say any of the following to yourself or others? “I am lonely.” “I am sad.” “I am angry.” If you did, that is a misuse of words that often leads to harmful effects.
Let’s take a brief look at words. Words are a lot like cars. Both are loaded with potential power. Cars are tangible items used to physically take people somewhere. And words are intangible items used to take people’s thoughts somewhere. Both words and cars are very useful, but when used improperly, they can harm us. There are many poor drivers and poor thinkers because of learning about cars and words from unqualified instructors.
Here is something to think about: The words we use imprison us or set us free. For example, if I were to say, “I AM lonely.” That may seem just like saying, “I AM short,” or “I AM human.” There is nothing I can do about being short or human. I can not change who or what I AM. But, when I say, “I AM lonely,” the mental implication is that I cannot change being lonely. I have just imprisoned myself with words based on feelings.
When I acknowledge that loneliness is a feeling by saying, “I FEEL lonely,” I open the door of my prison cell because feelings can and do change. Of course, as long as I continue to say, “I feel lonely”, I will continue to feel lonely. Nothing will change. Even though I opened the prison door, I have chosen to remain in the cell.
To completely set myself free, I have to take another step by saying, “I feel lonely, SO I’M GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.”
Loneliness is much more than an inconvenience. Left unchecked, it can be a precursor to the solitary confinement of drug and other addictions. For the pain of loneliness may cause one to look for solace in drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling. There is also the danger of loneliness developing into anxiety and depression. One can become completely immobilized by feelings of self-pity and helplessness. Also, one may try to mask pain by oversleeping or putting in long hours at the office. Finally, the stress imposed by loneliness leads to a weakened immune system, heart disease, and other physical ailments. The moral is clear. If we’re suffering from loneliness, it’s time to decide to do something about it!
All right, you feel lonely and want to do something about it, so what can you do?
Start by understanding a simple law of life which can help solve almost any problem. That law is: You have to give away what you wish to receive. Our actions are balls that bounce back to us. A corollary of that law is: Don’t give others what you don’t want to receive. If I punch someone, they will likely punch me back. If I hug someone, they will likely hug me back. It’s as simple as that. And that is the wisdom contained in the teaching, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Now, let’s see what happens when we apply the above principle to loneliness – I feel lonely.
As I sink into the sea of loneliness, I decide to reach out. For the pain I experience reminds me how others must feel. So, I resolve to help lessen the suffering of others by becoming a volunteer or a friend. Perhaps I visit seniors, the bedridden, or those in prison. Or, I may befriend a lonely classmate, coworker, or neighbor. As I do so, what do you suppose happens? Yes, others eagerly look forward to my visits. By becoming a friend, I have gained friends. By offering support, I have won support. By healing the loneliness of others, I have healed myself!
Another corollary of the law of life mentioned above is: You will receive the most when you give the most. So, give of yourself, expecting little in return. Think of others, not yourself. Don’t be needy because that will drain the energy of others and drive them away. Be a friend, but build friendships slowly. Don’t overwhelm others with your own problems. Learn to listen to others and they will listen to you. Learn to comfort others, and you will be comforted. Practice the principle of Tennessee Williams (1914 ~ 1983), who wrote, When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.
How can you love someone you don’t know and don’t spend time with? What is true for others also applies to yourself. How can you love yourself, if you don’t spend time alone to get to know yourself. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Actually, being alone is an opportunity for reflection, self-discovery, and growth. You will never be lonely if you like the person you are with! No matter where you go, you will always be accompanied by yourself, so get to know and like that person.
The strongest trees are those that grow alone. The greatest dreams are those conceived alone. God can speak to you only when you are alone. Your purpose and life’s meaning will be revealed to you only when you are alone. Yes, solitude is not the hovel of a recluse, but the mansion of a master. It is a place of reflection and joy. Yet, don’t retreat to it to such an extent that you neglect others and deny yourself the blessings of friendship, fellowship, and companionship.
There’s nothing questionable about the power of questions. If you’re feeling lonely and don’t know why, that’s because you haven’t been asking the right questions. Take an inventory of your behavior. Are you a show-off? Domineering? Moody? A complainer? A gossiper? Unreliable? Nosy? Short-tempered? A taker that doesn’t know how to give? Do you build walls instead of bridges? Would you want to be friends with someone like you?
Questions provoke thought and point to solutions. How can you take corrective actions unless you ask yourself what you are doing wrong? If you are still mired in loneliness, is that because you’re waiting to be rescued? (Don’t hold your breath because help isn’t on the way.) If you need a hand, you’ll find it at the end of your own arm. There are lots you can do such as join a support group to master people skills. Learning about self-esteem, assertiveness, and how to overcome shyness and win friends can be a great deal of fun and put an end to your loneliness for good.
Don’t deprive others of the blessing of knowing you – be a friend!