“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” Mother Teresa
In my last post, I spoke about solitude and the importance of spending quality time alone with yourself. It’s a positive and healthy action, that’s good for the soul. In this post, I want to briefly touch on what it is to experience loneliness.
“Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. Loneliness is also described as social pain – a psychological mechanism that motivates individuals to seek social connections. It is often associated with an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy. Loneliness overlaps and yet is distinct from solitude”. – Wikipedia
In my life, I’ve felt lonely quite often. I’ve been alone and felt lonely, and I’ve been around lots of people and still felt lonely. I’ve always had people around me, and for the most part, it’s been people who genuinely care about me. I’ve never been a fan of large crowds, and sometimes even intimate gatherings are even worse. Many times I find myself seeking out a place to hide, no matter where I am. I’ve been accused, on more than one occasion, of being anti-social. And I suppose I can be. It’s not that I want to be that way, but it just happens. I find great solace in my alone time, and as I said in the last post, I often find strength in those times. However, as hard as it is for me to admit, I have also found it can be a dangerous place to abide. Feelings of being unloved or not being good enough can come from out of nowhere. After a loss or tragedy of some kind, it’s ultimately better to be careful not to be alone too long. Before you can blink, you end up in a place of despair, and then the slow (or not so slow) spiral down into a pit occurs. It’s incredibly hard to pull yourself up from such a pit, but you have to try or at the very least ask for help.
I know the difference between solitude and loneliness, most of the time, and I try to have a proper balance. If I find myself straying from solitude to loneliness and eventual depression, I know it’s time to get up and move. I go see a friend or I seek out family to talk to. I keep people in my life, as well, who notice these tendencies in me and do not mind calling me out. I’m also mindful now to change up the music during these times. It’s real easy to listen to stuff that kind of keeps you in that sad mood, and I’ve dwelt in that sound for longer than is healthy.
So my advice, don’t stay alone too long, especially if it is accompanied with sadness. Don’t let a season of aloneness turn into depression inducing loneliness. If you’re taking time for you to rejuvenate and refresh yourself by being alone, then by all means go for it. Just don’t allow yourself to sink into that pit of despair that tells you that you’re no good and that no one loves you or any other negative thoughts that try to creep in. Go see family or friends, and if that’s not possible give them a call. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself mentally healthy, do that. You are special just because you’re you, and you don’t have to be lonely, even when you’re all by yourself.