Do you feel like you have to project a particular persona to be accepted by others, and in doing so are forced to hide your real experience in life? Depression is often the outward expression of your deep need to share this experience with another.
Loneliness is a pervasive state in our current culture. In Seattle we all joke about the “Seattle Freeze,” this idea that it’s hard to get to know folks on a meaningful level and create a sense of community. I hear it all the time. You could be having a great conversation with someone, and then all of a sudden you feel as though the person is disinterested or slowly moving away. Or after having a splendid time with someone, you can’t seem to get in touch with them. Or there is no follow through on promises to get together again, just vague reassurances that it will happen. These are the kinds of things that can leave us feeling intensely lonely and disconnected from that which we need the most: relationships.
We all have a mask that we present to others, bringing our best and perhaps even false self forward for fear that anything less would be unacceptable, rejected. In talking about facades, Carl Rogers states that “modern man has become far too good at deserting his experience to take on a way of being that will bring love.”
So often we feel we have to project a particular persona to be accepted by others, and in doing so are forced to hide our real experience in life. It is this experience and our real and deep feelings tied in with them that are crying out to be shared with an-other(s).
Loneliness can be in the context of how we relate to others, but there is also a loneliness that can come from feeling cut off from oneself. The taking on of traits and changing ourselves for the sake of being loved and accepted inevitably builds a wall within, hiding our true identity from even ourselves.
Loneliness in Relation to Others
This stems from a lack of relationships in which we can communicate our real internal experiences to another. We may be afraid of something that has already happened to us, perhaps a time when we spoke up in a relationship, saying, “I am feeling this,” and are met with, “If you feel that way, I will not love you.” So we begin to internalize what we should feel, not what we actually feel, in order to feel loved and accepted. Eventually, we give up being ourselves without even knowing it.
Loneliness That Lies Deeper
There is also a sense of loneliness that lies a bit deeper than that within relationships with others. It is within our relationship with ourself. The mid-life crisis comes to mind, when it’s so common to have spent years establishing and developing a career, possibly creating a family, but there is this growing sense of not knowing one’s own identity.
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To read more about this theme, take a look at some of these posts: