Loneliness is a big topic for discussion, but for now; I’d like to share some of the philosophies I’ve learned over time and in doing so it will become clear there is much to explore beyond what I share with you here.
Are you an introvert?
Because if you are more introvert than extrovert, it’s likely you will experience and perceive loneliness in very different ways. The introvert is less liable to feel unhappy being alone. It’s often more of a choice as a result of learning to be comfortable in their own company. However, this can also be compromised, or even begin as a result of social anxiety or low self-esteem. The deeper-thinking extrovert, when they allow themselves space and time for reflection, are likely to feel lonely when in the company of people – if they have any semblance of low self-worth. For these, the gregarious behaviour they are known for may be a mask.
So, what’s so great about ‘alone’ time?
When you can run through the house naked, or go to the bathroom without shutting the door, or get up in the middle of the night to watch movies and not worry about how much noise you are making. You can mope and be sad and not have to explain to anyone why you’re in a bad mood. Spend an hour in the bath blowing bubbles and see how long you can hold your breath, or turn off the TV and electronics and just enjoy the silence, or just lie on the couch and daydream.
Doesn’t that sound great? If you are happy in your skin and company, it is! But, here’s the dichotomy!
We have evolved to be part of ‘the tribe’ or die! Today that may mean to be less overtly successful. On the flip side, and perhaps more relevant for our world today, we can choose to honour alone time. To do this may mean we have to invest time in learning to become an authority about ourselves. We will need to figure out why we feel what we feel, be aware when that is, and what triggers these emotions – non-judgementally! We will need to be consciously aware of our thoughts and beliefs and know we are more than our perceptions, experiences, and external influences.
I love me!
Self-love is a tough one for most, including me! What may be more available to us is self-acceptance. I am enough; I am complete.
When are you most lonely?
If we are distressed, mentally or physically, it is inherent within us to feel the need for human connection; though animals and the unconditional love they may offer are terrific too! In a depressed or anxious state and lacking balance, we soon visit the realms of comparisons and judgement, instead of the healthy alternatives of observation and acceptance for now. When we are grieving the loss of a companion through death or another form of separation, the sense of aloneness is often a precise trigger for loneliness. Change in any form may do this such as a house move, change of job and the kids leaving home.
Relationships and Loneliness
Many of you reading this will be aware that despite being in a relationship, you feel very alone; incredibly so. The dysfunctional relationship may benefit from counselling, or – continue to exist in a virtual prison!
Friends, where for art thou, friends?
A constant source of judgement from those suffering low self-worth are friendships:
- We try to control them.
- The more we try to control them, the more they try to control us back!
- We expect more from them than they are prepared to provide.
- They expect more from us than we have to give.
- We give too much in an attempt to win favour. Then, we get annoyed when payback doesn’t arrive! (This is ‘conditional’ giving)
- We base our happiness on our friend’s (No, no, no!)
The Bottom Line
If I am content with me, I will never need to feel unloved, unwanted, or lonely. Loneliness really is a choice. Whether a child whose best friend has gone to play with another child or an elderly person whose life-long love has died; it’s how we elect to behave and perceive once the grief is done, that ultimately determines our comfort levels when in our own company.
Loneliness is a huge topic. There is so much more to discuss so do share your thoughts and observations.
If you, or someone you know, would like to work through current challenges, wherever you or they are, and would like to know more about how to live more comfortably in your own company, or wish to regain confidence in friendships, social situations and those relationships, I can work online or face-to-face. Contact Me
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).