|Posted by Dr Ashley Wong Hoy on September 29, 2013 at 6:20 PM|
I spoke with a young boy last week and he indicated to me that he was never lonely as he always had something to do or say. It occurred to me that he kept busy thinking, talking or fidgeting with something and never really listened to anyone nor did he attempt to focus his attention. I sensed that he had an issue with his own feelings regarding his abject separateness, and that he feared being alone…I learned that he had no family at all and had been in foster care for many years. He was completely and utterly detached and spoke of having “no one to belong to” or having anyone “belong to him”……
To be lonely is to feel isolated. People try all sorts of things to get escape the pain of solitude. Most of these ways involve being part of something, like belonging to community interest groups. These are excellent avenues to further develop one’s potential, provide community service and cultural development, develop regional pride and community connectedness, and also to help individual people cope with loneliness and boredom. Belonging to groups helps us feel connected and less isolated though the most effective way to deal with loneliness is to develop healthy self-esteem and then gradually learn self-acceptance. This involves having a good idea of both personal strengths and weaknesses, but nevertheless, accepting oneself “warts and all” as a “project under construction”. If you ask others who are not lonely, yet live by themselves, they tell you that they have a few friends, keep busy, time manage, and importantly they express their creativity in a variety of ways. This may be by gardening, photographing, painting, writing, making something, building or restoring something, playing music, writing music or poetry, fashioning something – as long as it is creative and an expression of one’s unique self. These people are attempting to get in touch with their “true self” and to appreciate their “true self”… they are attempting to love and accept themselves. When we accept ourselves, and no longer present a façade to the world, we become calm with who we are, even though we may have things to change about ourselves. We no longer feel isolated or alienated, for we know someone – ourselves. Those people who are lonely, do not accept themselves, and have no one with whom to talk or to listen to, receive only one perception, their own. They become imprisoned within the walls of their own silence. There can be few things more tortuous than being kept in a vacuum with your own thoughts and bottled-up feelings. Sometimes, a moment with your own thoughts might be calming especially when life gets chaotic! Yet solitary confinement, whether it is a physical, social, emotional, mental or spiritual solitude, provides only one perception of reality, through one dialogue, one heart, and one set of eyes and ears. It presents a distorted and incomplete profile of this world, and limits our understanding and experience. Even though there may be risk of Acceptance, Conflict or Rejection if we were to attempt to make new friends and share perspectives, we gain insight into ourselves and into others. We learn that we are not alone, for we relate to anothers’ personal triumph or pain, or to someone’s anxiety or success. But most of all, we may discover that we really do have a few things in common, and that we do “belong to others” and they to us.