Loneliness is not the same thing as being alone. Many of us seek time alone to emotionally recharge, to reflect or to explore our creativity or hobby. Being along is often a choice whereas loneliness is not something we choose. Paradoxically a feeling of loneliness can be experienced even when one is not alone, but rather amongst a crowd of people. When loneliness is experienced in a crowd of people, it can be even more isolating and make us feel disconnected in a frightening way. Loneliness may be felt as a result of a lack of love in our life and can be as devastating as the feeling of grief after losing a loved one.
After the breakdown of a relationship we may feel abandoned, rejected, unworthy and insecure and this can lead to a feeling of loneliness. A period of recovery from this sort of grief is necessary and eventually it is important for our mental health to move on and resume a useful and enjoyable life where we once again feel loveable, accepted and valued.
With today’s fast living style, close personal friends are often not highly valued and nurtured but are abandoned in place of social networking and “internet friends”. This is a great loss and the loss of true personal connection can lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness. Keep in mind that all friendships are important and not just those of a romantic nature. As people initially share small things together this can lead to eventually sharing innermost feelings, which of course may take time, but friendships can evolve and be cemented. Nobody will ever be exactly the same as us, so respect and accept the differences.
Pursue your interests and hobbies and join a social club or sports group, or other interest group such as bush-walking, bush-care, music, art, theatre, scrabble, Bridge. Take up walking and offer a smile to others along the way – if you’re feeling lonely yourself it will make you feel better and more connected and it also just may help somebody else. Involve yourself in some voluntary work – thinking about helping others can take the focus off self introversion and self obsessiveness and can help with self esteem. When you learn to respect and value yourself you can come to enjoy your own company and eventually others will too. Taking care with your diet and your physical health can also improve your self esteem.
If you scroll down to the Editor’s Summary on this Research Paper about Social Relationships (from two universities from USA) I think you’ll find it interesting.
Some Great "Friendship" Responses
Hi Sandy! Even though I haven’t corresponded with you for ages I do appreciate the newsy updates you send me and the wisdom in the thoughts expressed.
This one on Friendship I felt an impulse to respond to as I absolutely agree with the sentiments and suggestions.
Among many courses and classes I have facilitated over the last 30 plus years was one that we did for about 16 years called “Building Self-confidence” and as part of it we emphasised friendship, awareness of the negativity of others (even when kindly meant), and the freedom one experiences when “taking responsibility for self ”. Simple wisdoms that we often saw had the power to change participant’s lives - so I am really glad to see from your newsletter that people are still asking the questions and listening to the answers. Keep up the good work. N.T. Vic.
So I might say that my best friends have (say) 95% overlap with my values while it is unlikely that I will be friends with someone with less than say 75% overlap, and people with 50% will be at best acquaintances or colleagues. B.S. Tas.
Didn’t know I needed encouragement mate … however, you might follow this up with how to get and keep a friend.
1. Reach out to fellows whether you know them or not.
2. Give more than you get.
3. Communicate well. Remember two ears – one mouth.
4. Always be there but don’t get in the road.
I must say that I haven’t been doing the Peaceful Place often enough. However I believe that it does have a very positive influence on the way that I think.
I suppose I don’t give myself enough time to do it, basically, which, when I think about it, is a pretty lame reason. I’m a farmer and so it always feels like something has to be done around the place and I don’t allow enough time for meditation. In writing this though, I have just understood the fact that I have to take time out to do it. It is worth doing because of the positive influence it has on my mind.
Thankyou . H.A. NSW
Being an only child, friends my own age are what I place importance on and I have retained my school friends. I have discovered that those who are not true friends really don't appreciate it if your life is going too well. Fair weather friends are for the birds and hard times seem to sort the wheat from the chaff. There is nothing as good as a true friend.
Thank you again Sandy – I find your emails on these topics so interesting. C.W. NSW.
But this one takes me back a long way, well before I first heard Sandy in 1992, and I would like to share a couple of comments in case they are helpful for anyone or will progress this discussion:
1. A book which shaped my philosophy about relationships whilst in my 20's was "Intimacy and Solitude" by Stephanie Dowrick. It’s many years since I’ve looked at it but it had "answers" to the questions posed in MMN.