We all experience the aching feeling of loneliness from time to time. Whether we've just moved to a new city, lost a loved one, or are socially disconnected, we might feel lost and unable to communicate our feelings to others. Most people try to dampen these feelings with distractions such as the Internet, T.V., newspapers, or films. Or they try to keep themselves busy by interacting with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers. If you're feeling extremely down, or if your feelings are chronic, it is necessary to maintain social interaction and communication. Expressing our troubles to another human being can ease the burden- it even can save our lives.
What Is Loneliness?
However, if you find yourself continually distracting yourself from natural feelings of loneliness, perhaps it’s time to take a look at what loneliness is, and how embracing it can help you evolve. This does not mean dwelling on your pain, judging yourself for feeling pain, or obsessing over it. It means allowing it to run its course without fighting it. By allowing our feelings to unfold naturally, we can begin to understand how and why loneliness occurs, and why we fear it. This is the only way we can begin to understand ourselves, and indeed, the human condition.
Our Feelings About Loneliness
So what kinds of feelings are we talking about? The absence of distractions leads us to face ourselves as we are- which means we must face the dark parts of our psyche that we'd rather not see. When we are with friends, or at work, or at play, we are able to hide these thoughts and feelings from ourselves more easily. We receive validation of our worth from friends, we are busy and focused completely on our work and achievements, or we are enjoying ourselves far too much to examine the processes of the mind that disturb us. But when those distractions diminish or disappear, we are suddenly left with a feeling of emptiness. In that emptiness, we are faced with our greatest fears and insecurities.
What To Do: Self-Acceptance
Truly facing your shadow self- the dark aspects of your psyche- means cultivating self-acceptance and self-love. Otherwise, we judge and criticize ourselves to the point of unbearable pain. This can only be damaging, as it will only cause us to further mask ourselves and run from self-discovery. Many people turn to meditation, spirituality, or alternative therapies such as holistic healing, in order to cultivate self-acceptance and love. Even if we just say to ourselves "I allow myself to feel this way. I am no different- no better and no worse- than anyone else", we can begin to let our emotions run their natural course.
If we accept loneliness as a human condition that cannot be avoided, we can begin to face our shadow self and grow from it. We move towards self-acceptance as we come to terms with the fact that, like everyone else, we are petty, jealous, angry, dejected, and insecure. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. Feeling jealous or angry is not a sin, but ignoring the fact that we do feel jealous and angry often leads to actions that one could term "sinful". Ultimately, a spell of loneliness can be a time of great discovery and self-acceptance, allowing us to become happier, healthier, more enlightened people.