At the heart of most people’s emotional distress, there is almost always a sense of loneliness. The majority of all my clients, experience loneliness in some form or the other that heavily contributes to anxiety, depression, adjustment difficulties, obsessive thinking, social and relationship problems.
Loneliness affects all of us at different times, places and for different reasons. I always say, that anyone can feel lonely in a very crowded room. Loneliness is not only the absence of others in our presence, but also an emotional feeling of loss, despair and emptiness that does not always go away with a greeting and smile.
Loneliness can consume a large part of our emotional energy. As it becomes part of our daily lives and routine, over time it can do damage to our psyche and self-esteem, not to mention on our brain and physiological health. . As we distract ourselves with work or other tasks, we come to find the loneliness returning.
Loneliness is a fact of life. Reality is not without change. When we become attached to things, people, our jobs, etc. and those attachments change, or disappear, we develop a feeling of loss that can quickly turn to loneliness.
Our responses to loneliness is what matters, not how we avoid it. I have written about acceptance and commitment as well as taught it to many of my clients over the past many years. Responding to loneliness takes an effort to find acceptance to the reality for how change evolves. Stagnation is not healthy, nor is it realistic. When we settle into our daily routines, we do so because it helps us feel safe and secure, knowing the certainty of what's to come. As evolution takes place, it creates anxiety and uncertainty. We therefore can feel alone in the world, when we have no one to tell us, "it will all be okay." Finding acceptance is our ability to use mindfulness, compassion, empathy, without judgement of ourselves or others.
If you can use compassion and empathy as you become aware of your loneliness, without judging yourself or others, you can then congratulate yourself for the "compassionate awareness" you have created.
Loneliness is not a dirty word. It's a reality of life. When we embrace it, allow it to exist rather than avoid it through distraction, and then make commitments for change in our lives, we will find the path towards living a happier and more fulfilling life.