Loneliness is that lost and panicky feeling associated with being denied the company/support of others. It is quite different from aloneness, where we make a positive decision to spend time on our own, for example, on some solo pursuit or when we take time out for reflection/relaxation to clear our heads and recharge our batteries.
The loneliness explored here is the unsatisfied need/desire for human contact. It can happen quiet suddenly as a result of the loss of a loved one or from a change in personal circumstances – marital breakup, illness, loss of a job or dislocation as a result of emigration etc. It can also develop slowly over time as in a loveless relationship ; but whatever the trigger the feeling is a call to action.
Loneliness can lead to depression and requires you to call on your inner resources to deal with it in a positive way. While supportive friends *, if you are luckly to have them, can make a difference, it eventually comes down to recognizing your personal responsibility to fill the void you are experiencing. Be aware of the temptation to see yourself as a victim, which will impede your abilty to think creatively about your options for moving forward. Patience is required as not every option explored will take you where you want to go.
* It may also be helpful to join support groups of others who are facing similar challenges.
If you have become suddenly time rich it can also be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate the direction of your life, and maybe force of circumstance will cause you to face up to longstanding issues. So the crisis of loneliness, like any other crisis has hidden gifts.
The biggest challenge can be plucking up the courage to take the first baby steps to strike out in a new direction, such as joining a new group or club. There may be dark days and some roads may not take you where we want to go. However, sticking to the process will pay dividends in the end.
A focus on present moment living is essential in dealing with loneliness as it may take time to establish new connections, structure and routine into your life. Regrets for the past or fears relating to future uncertainties, while understandable, will not move you forward.
When you come out the other end of this experience you are likely to have a much better understanding of who and what you are and an enhanced confidence in your ability to cope with adversity. You are also likely to be more comfortable in ‘our own skin’ and be more independent minded.