Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Judith Schuepfer-Griffin Registered MBACP, BA Hons
6th November, 20130 Comments
Feeling lonely and being alone are not the same things. A lot of people suffer from loneliness, maybe because they live on their own and wish for a companion. But many feel lonely even in a relationship, or in a crowd. Loneliness seems to be one of the major problems in our fragmented society. We live anonymous lives even in the middle of a community. We may take part in all kinds of activities but are keeping up appearances and are not really connecting with others on a deeper level. But the real cause for loneliness is, in my opinion, the lacking connection to ourselves.
Well, how can that be? You may say. How can I not be connected with myself? And what does that mean anyway? It has something to do with the way we grow up and with the culture we live in. We learn to bury unacceptable emotions, unacceptable to parents or society, like anger, sadness or inner pain. The only advice we get is: Just get on with it, just get over it. If we try to "get over it" it is like stepping over ourselves and ignoring the part of us that is suffering. That's what makes us lonely; this is how we lose connection with ourselves.
In counselling we can learn new ways of dealing with emotions. Instead of ignoring them we can learn to acknowledge them and to understand what they are telling us. Maybe they say to us: Your relationship is not satisfactory; you need to do something about it. Or: You're in the wrong job; this is not right for you and you need to make some changes. Or: You're not standing up for yourself; you don't say what you really think or feel and blame others instead for not understanding you. Or: You didn't get what you needed or you were mistreated when you grew up, and this is still affecting you today.
You need to start paying attention and stop ignoring the things that are sabotaging your life - once we start to work through these issues we can learn to get to know ourselves, to be true to ourselves and to be reunited with ourselves. That's when loneliness disappears. Then we can be alone and happy in our own company. "Alone" comes from "all one". We can be at one with ourselves, at peace, and this has the great side-effect that it makes us much more able to relate in an honest and healthy way to others. Then the choice is not either being lonely or living in a relationship full of drama (or silence). Then choice is to be alone (all-one) and content, or with somebody and content. As long as you have yourself you will be fine.
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