It is time to question our loneliness – Do we lack connection with others or we lack connection with our inner self?
Loneliness has been defined as “an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation or a psychological mechanism which motivates individuals to seek social connections due to an unwanted lack of connection with others”. So there are two things; one is that you can feel lonely when you are isolated- people are not around you. Secondly, you can feel lonely even when people are with you.
If loneliness is felt even when we are surrounded by other people, then perhaps the problem does not dwell so much with the absence of others – not being in the company of people might not be the direct consequence of our experience of loneliness . How possible is it that we can stay surrounded by others and still feel as though we are isolated? I would reflect on three things; firstly, why we do not have to respond negatively to isolation. Secondly, a reflection on the circumstances that would most likely lead us to that supposed “lonely” state and lastly how we can deal with it.
So what is it about ourselves that makes us feel this way?
I find that loneliness is an emotional response to “emptiness” – a feeling of lack of purpose or living an unfulfilled life. Our spirits are keen to how we engage with and express our natural abilities, our gifts, and our talents – so that when we fail to utilize these gifts, our spirits grief in pain that not even the presence of our loved ones is enough to calm this feeling.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I feel very empty”? This is synonymous with the use of the statement, “I am lonely”. Loneliness makes us feel as though life is worthless. Too many people have committed suicides in their seemingly “lonely” state – But are they often “alone”?
I remember back in my undergraduate days in the university, my course mate – the daughter of a wealthy business man suddenly committed suicide. She had everything – her family who loved her, money and material possessions which she never lacked. So why did she decide to end her life? What was missing in her life? Did she not enjoy the company of a wealthy and beautiful family? The point is we can have everything and everyone around us yet, if we cannot find comfort within our inner selves, we may never escape this supposed “lonely” state.
If your state of loneliness is fueled by lack of connections with others, here is why you should never cling to anyone:
Perhaps the first step to freeing ourselves from loneliness is to acknowledge that no one’s existence on earth is permanent- those to whom we look up to can expire too quickly, no matter how much they wish to be with you – at least they do not possess power over their own existence.
Nothing is guaranteed for anyone. Today is here, tomorrow is not promised, and nothing is really permanent, not even our very lives. Just like the novel COVID-19 pandemic –the Lock-down situation has brought the world to a standstill. Many have been separated from their families since they could not travel back home. Life’s uncertain situations like death, work and other unforeseen eventualities can always separate us from our loved ones. So you see, it is not even a choice to look inwardly for companionship, it is indeed a necessity for survival.
Once you identify this seemingly painful truth, your next step is to look inwardly:
Have you identified that one thing you derive fulfillment? That one thing you never really get tired of doing? You never complain even when it is difficult? Our natural abilities are like fuels which gives us energies that are unquenchable and keeps us happy and moving regardless who is present or absent in our lives- we may never feel lonely pursuing that which we were created to do.
I recall a day when I had to apologize to myself; I looked in the mirror and I said to myself, “I am sorry Gertrude! I am sorry for not taking care of you as I should, I am sorry for being hard on you- I am sorry for chasing after everyone else but you! Then I made a promise to myself – to spend more time with myself and to enjoy the company that I have within.
So often times, we are busy seeking the company of others and paying little attention to ourselves. When we cling to people and they are eventually separated from us, we put ourselves at risk of dealing with the negative emotional consequence that comes with it. If we want a companion that promises to stay with us at all times, we cannot find it outside ourselves, that companion is right within!