I spend a lot of time on my own, and I really enjoy being alone. But it hasn’t always been that way. There have certainly been times in my life when I was very lonely, when I craved company and companionship, but eventually I learned to embrace my loneliness and to learn from it, and overtime I found myself less lonely and much more content with being alone
So today I’m gonna share some of my personal insight into what loneliness is and how one might overcome it.
Often when we feel lonely, we search desperately for company, whether romantic or platonic or both. And sometimes this leads to a deeper sense of loneliness. We may, for example, find it a challenge to find a partner or make new friends, or find a community or social group where we really fit in.
Or we might find a partner or make new friends, or go out to various social events, and it may give us some sense of temporary relief, but even in the company of others we might once again find ourselves overwhelmed with that same sense of loneliness.
I’ve experienced loneliness even while in a relationship, or among friends, or in a group of people of similar interest, and so I’ve come to realize that feeling lonely isn’t exclusive to being alone. You can feel lonely in a crowd of people. So why is that?
It would seem that the feeling of loneliness is actually a sense of there being a lack of deep connection or intimacy? And so loneliness could be understood as the craving for deep connection. But even if you have relationships, friendships, acquaintances, if those relationships are shallow and lacking in real intimacy, then you’re likely to find yourself still feeling lonely.
Now, if your in a relationship, and that could be any sort of relationship, not only romantic but platonic as well, you could wort toward cultivating intimacy, and that will take care of that craving. But the problem with that is that, if for some reason that relationship doesn’t last, and you wind up alone, you’ll probably be lonely again.
Or it may be that you’re already entirely on your own. You may have no romantic partner, and maybe you no friends either, or at least none that you find you can connect with deeply. And so the problem, it seems, is not only a lack of intimacy, but how to even meet people and cultivate relationships, how to make new friends, or how to find a community to be a part of.
What I’ve observed in myself, as well as in many others, is that when we feel lonely we often try to go out and meet people. And what we’re really doing is trying to escape our loneliness. Really what we’re doing is resisting being alone.
Now I went through something like this not very long ago, where I was trying to make new friends, looking for a potential partner, trying to find a community of like-minded people, and it was disappointment after disappointment. And came to I realize that my frustration was due to my own resistance; resistance to the moment, to the current reality. And do I decided to take a different approach.
Instead of trying to resist being alone, I decided to accept it and embrace it, to surrender to the current reality.
And what I’ve also come to realize is that, for many people, we lack intimacy, not merely with others, but with ourselves. That is to say that we don’t have a deep connection with ourselves. We don’t have a deep loving relationship with ourselves. In fact, there may be many things about ourselves that we don’t like or we don’t wanna look at, because it’s uncomfortable.
And this may be one of the reasons we’re often craving the company of others, as a sort of distraction from having to be alone with ourselves and to face that discomfort , to face our own darkness, to face all of the things within ourselves that we don’t like about ourselves.
Or it may be that what we’re really craving is not merely the company of others, but validation or security or to feel loved and worthy and so on. And one of the reasons we try to fit in with a group, for instance, is to feel accepted.
But what if we were to accept ourselves? And that includes all of the darkness, all of our flaws and imperfections, all of our failures and shortcomings, our mistakes and so on. And what if were to find validation and love and a sense of worthiness, all from within? Then we wouldn’t feel the desperate need to get these things from others. And we might not feel so lonely.
I’ve found that this has really worked well for me. I’ve come to realize that my need to be in a relationship or to be around other people frequently was really my need to feel loved and appreciated and accepted. Because once I really began to love and appreciate myself, and accept myself just as I am, I didn’t feel so lonely. In fact, I began to experience a deep sense of fulfillment and contentment, and to really enjoy the time I spend by myself.
I’ve discovered a great deal of freedom in being alone, because I don’t have to compromise. I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations or standards. And that really allows you the freedom to be truly authentic. Because I think we compromise our authenticity in fear that we might lose our partner or our friends, or the acceptance of the group. Because being accepted by others often requires having to to adjust your behavior and lifestyle, your opinions, your likes and interests, your entire persona, just to fit with their expectations and preferences.
But when you no longer depend on anyone else to accept and to validate you, and you can be content with being alone, you have nothing to lose, so you can truly be yourself. And if some people don’t respect that, it’s their problem, not yours. And you can handle the rejection. You can handle it if they decide not to be in your life. In fact, you’ll find that you feel grateful when people like that walk out of your life.
Now, I say all of this, and it’s not meant to suggest that this shift happens overnight. But if you really want to overcome loneliness, not just get some temporary relief, but to overcome loneliness permanently, then take all of this to heart, and really begin to embrace being alone. And if there’s a lot of fear or discomfort around that, have the courage to face it, to look at it, to understand it.
And when you have that craving for company or companionship, rather than desperately trying to satisfy that craving, can you instead, have the willingness to examine it, to really look deeply at it, and understand what it’s really about. Are you merely craving connection with someone else, or are you really trying to avoid yourself; trying to avoid having to face your own darkness; your own discomfort, your own aloneness.
Can you turn your attention inward and really embrace yourself; begin to accept yourself just as you are, without any sort of judgment or condemnation, but with compassion, and, in doing so, find your own intrinsic value and begin to really honor that?
What I’m talking about is cultivating a loving relationship with yourself. And once you establish that relationship, to the degree that you love and embrace yourself, to that same degree you’re going to feel more fulfilled and content, regardless of whether you’re surrounded by others or completely on your own.
In fact, you’ll begin to really appreciate and value your own company to such a degree that you won’t feel a desperation to search out others. And when you do meet people, you’ll find that you’re much more selective about who you wanna give your time and energy to. You’ll find that you’re only interested in involving yourself with people who truly value your time and energy, rather than people who are just trying to take advantage, or are only interested in friendship due to their own desperation not to be alone.
Relationships will become more about quality rather than quantity. You would rather have one close friend who you can relate to deeply than a hundred shallow friendships. And you’ll notice that your standards in regard to potential romantic partners will become much higher as well, because you’re no longer seeking partnership out of desperation. Which is to say that you have a lot more patience, a lot more clarity. And that means you’re willing to remain alone until someone shows up who meets those higher standards.
And if that means being alone for a year or two years or potentially the rest of your life, that doesn’t frighten you, because you’ve found contentment in being alone. You’ve found a joy in being alone.
So, there are really many benefits to cultivating this relationship with yourself. And this truly is, I think, at least in my experience, the most effective way to overcome loneliness.