Learning from Loneliness

          Humans are social beings.  Evolution has taught us that survival of the human species requires adapting to the environment through shared, group efforts.  Societal values promote group membership, belongingness, and social connections.  Humans can experience a sense of loneliness following the loss of a relationship, moving to a new geographical area, or other forms of separation from familiar circumstances.  Furthermore, loneliness has gained attention during these pandemic years, because so many people have had no choice but to confront the uncertainty and powerlessness which can be created by loneliness.  Many individuals are also experiencing increased anxiety and social isolation which have added to the loneliness of the pandemic. 

         You may have been taught that loneliness is a state of being which should be avoided, which is synonymous with sadness, or which should be overcome.  However, sitting with the restlessness and shame of loneliness CAN BE the journey to increased mental and emotional clarity.  By simply accepting loneliness as a transient state to be observed, not endured, you can use this experience as a valuable opportunity for personal growth, inner strength, and wisdom.  Rather than perceiving loneliness as some sort of problem to “solve,” you can view it as a time frame for improving your introspective skills and goals realignment.  Through loneliness, you can gain self-discipline in your daily life, because you are not distracted by another human being’s wants and needs.  It is very common to feel frightened by loneliness and to seek unnecessary activities or unsupportive people as attempts to escape or mask your fear. However, this process is only grasping at external forces to fill an internal void.  Being distracted by unnecessary activities or unsupportive people can prevent you from learning or growing from your loneliness.  On the contrary, you are sinking deeper into the toxic emotions which are often related to being lonely. 

          Being lonely is the perfect opportunity for tapping into your true higher self and into a heightened sense of inner security.  Loneliness tends to create a panic and a desperate striving to fill your time with unproductive or self-destructive behaviors.  However, you can use this space with yourself to redefine your goals, create new goals, increase your faith in yourself, and create a new sense of inner contentment and self-awareness.  When you wake up in the nighttime or in the morning and feel alienated, rejected, scared, and, yes, alone, you can reframe these experiences as golden opportunities for knowing and loving yourself on a much deeper level.  You may try to seek a solution, or an end, to your loneliness, but the reality is that no human being can guarantee an end to feelings of loneliness.

Personal Virtues Which Can Be Achieved During Loneliness

        The first virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is generosity, which is the journey of learning how to give your love and support to others.  Generosity enables you to focus on the simplicity in life’s experiences as they are and to acknowledge the fact that the universe helps all humans without judgment or discrimination. 

         A second virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is discipline, which allows you to be present and responsible for each moment and to connect with the opportunity of each life experience. 

        Discipline does not refer to the need to control yourself, to control others, or to control circumstances.  Rather, discipline is an “undoing” or “reworking” process, which can support you when going against the grain of past, and often negative and pain-provoking, behavioral and cognitive patterns.  Discipline can provide you with immense encouragement to step further into uncertain circumstances and to learn from your sense of groundlessness.

         A third virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is patience, which is best understood as the antidote to anger, frustration, blame, and shame.  The journey of patience involves relaxing within the inevitable uncertainty of life events and opening yourself to whatever is happening with both willingness and freedom to learn from uncertainty.

         A fourth virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is vigor, or conscious exertion.  Vigor refers to your acceptance of what you “can” do and what you simply “cannot” do.  Vigor allows you to take action, to give compassion to others and to yourself, and to work with appreciation and gratitude in whatever comes your way.  When you apply vigor to your daily tasks, you will find that you become better able to connect with the bigger perspective of your life.  You will then find that you can spontaneously connect with pure energetic joy in any life situation.

          A fifth virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is concentration, which allows you to connect with all challenging and traumatic circumstances and with difficult people.  Through concentration, you learn that you do not need to either grasp at or reject anything encountered in your life’s path.    Mindfulness is a valuable example of how to channel your concentration.  Mindfulness is the energy that can help you to recognize and to accept ALL thoughts and emotions, some which are disturbing and some which can be extremely inspiring.  Mindfulness is a learned skill which enables you to truly embrace your moment-to-moment awareness of YOU and to gain understanding of your mind-body connection.  For instance, you can use mindfulness to fully focus on your anger, your fear, your joy, or your peace.  At times, your mind may be caught in the past, in the future, in regrets, in sorrow, or in uncertainty, thus your mind is not fully “there.”  When your mindfulness becomes powerful, your concentration becomes powerful.  When you are fully concentrated, you have a chance to make a breakthrough and to achieve the insight necessary for being fully “there.”

         The final virtue which can be achieved through loneliness is wisdom, which is by far the most precious gift of loneliness.  Wisdom can be gained by being alone with ALL of your memories, fears, insecurities, disappointments, unfulfilled goals, and inventory of your core values.  Yes, lonely phases of your life may involve anxiety, despair, insomnia, grief, and many other disturbing states of being.  However, loneliness will ultimately result in either a spiritual and emotional collapse or in an enduring and unbreakable wisdom.  By focusing on the thoughts and feelings caused by your loneliness, you are learning what needs attention in your life.  THIS IS THE PATH TO WISDOM!  Rather than perceiving loneliness as a “problem,” you can reframe it as a time to concentrate only on YOU and to build coping skills to apply to all other life challenges.

Want to keep reading? Read on here about Social Anxiety post Covid-19 here

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