When solitude becomes our home: 10 tips to fight loneliness

  • By Sahana Rajan

Being alone and loneliness are two different mental states. Being alone is generally referred to as the physical absence of people around you while loneliness is categorized as a mental or emotional aspect. You could be alone and still, happy - with intervals of content companionship with others. On the other hand, you could be surrounded by people and feel completely out of place - thus feeling that you are not recognized as well as valued and understood for the person you are.

When you are lonely, you get anxious about possibility of abandonment by those close to you and this could often lead to desperate measures of pleasing them - which if met with annoyance or rejection, could lead you to feel that your love and care is not acknowledged. Common symptoms of loneliness also include fears about ending up alone in the world and of displeasing others. You could also get angry with your close ones when they give greater priorities to other people or things apart from you. You could feel neglected and ignored by even those with whom you share your living space on a daily basis.

Loneliness is a multi-faceted problem that has three major causes: Your family past could make you feel that you do not deserve to be taken care of, your companionships might show signs of bullying or neglect, and lastly, there could be primary illnesses like depression or cancer whose onset put you into a place of loneliness. However, these are only the superficial reasons.

The primary cause for loneliness, which attracts and bewitches a conventionally rich person as much as a poor one is the belief that "I do not deserve to be loved and am unworthy of it - that's exactly why these things happen to me." Such a belief could have been reinforced through the above causes. However, a deep sense of unworthiness marked by low self-esteem is the essential cause of loneliness. Loneliness is one's losing of self and not of the others. When you are lonely, you are lonely of yourself which cannot be filled by the physical presence of others.

The following are six stages through which you can answer to the deeper issues that surface as loneliness. Do not be in a hurry to be "un-lonely"- remember that your aim is to be happy as an independent person: "Alone, but not lonely" and be able to form healthy relationships from this starting point.

Stage 1 : Know Thyself
Only two well-formed clouds can come together to cause a rain. Much like this, only two people who are - independent of one other, but complete in themselves, can come together to form a healthy relationship. The first step towards dealing with loneliness is to spend quality time with yourself. When you are alone, don’t think "I am alone because no one wants to be with me." Take it as an opportunity to know the person you are - find out hobbies and interests that can keep you occupied and define you.

Stage 2 : You are the creator of your life
Once you know what you like, you can stop telling yourself that things happen to you. You create your own life now. Find out people who share your likes and interests. In such a way, your identity will define your life and you will not let the external world determine who you are internally.

Stage 3 : Selective relationship-forming
It is time to break away from relationships where people make you feel like you are not needed around. You probably do stay around incessantly trying to make them feel your need. However, you are valuable simply for the person you are - you do not need to do reaffirm your identity for their companionship. If the other person does not have such an understanding, then it is time for you to break the shackles and move out.

Stage 4 : Honest communication is the key
In the relationships which you have decided to retain and the ones you are newly forming, remember to communicate what you feel. In the past, you might have communicated, but those were desperate measures to make the other person stay. Now, every communication should be marked by an honesty that arises from your knowledge regarding yourself. Once you have defined that, you can assert what you want and which type of relationship you want to get into. Such an assertion does not imply that you become unaccommodating, but that you realize to differentiate between the points in a relationship where you have to walk out and where you can stay and work it out.

Stage 5 : You are ever becoming, engage with yourself!
You are constantly changing and evolving into the person you want to be. Update your way of life according to that. Every day, talk to yourself through a journal or any hobby that defines you. Such an engagement with yourself should be continuous so that you never lose yourself again in the crowd.

Stage 6 : A plant, a pet, and a person
By taking care of a plant or a pet companion, you will realize that in the act of taking care, you are doing your responsibility and the only consequence of your caretaking is well-being of the other. If the other is not able to respond to you, it is not your responsibility but theirs. Remember that the social network of life includes non-human beings as well - grow and channelize your caretaking towards plants and animals while forming equally healthy relationships with human beings around you.