We value our individuality and privacy. We are brought up to be self-reliant and we find nothing more awful than to admit that we are vulnerable.
In many ways, life is a kind of competition where we constantly compare ourselves with other people- our siblings, neighbours, colleagues and friends. We try to outshine each other to prove our worth by creating visible success in whatever way- academic achievement, sports, financial, material, social... When I write this I find it sounds superficial and most of us would want to take immediate distance from this kind of behaviour. But can you honestly say that this mentality has not affected the way you see yourself, the way you measure yourself and most deeply maybe, the way you criticize and discipline yourself?
To a large extent, we westerners believe we can do without some basic social premises:
1. Feeling connected to God
2. Feeling connected to our Community
3. Feeling connected to our Family (once we have grown up)
This leaves us with:
4. Feeling connected to our Colleagues
5. Feeling connected to our Friends
6. Feeling connected to our Partners
7. Feeling connected to our Children
So when we talk about loneliness, the pitfalls become obvious:
- In the current economic climate, we all know a lot of people who have lost their jobs. And despite all good intentions to ‘stay in touch’, we mostly discover that our connection with colleagues is simply not the same when we don’t see each other on a regular basis.
- Friends come and go, they move to another country, they get married to someone who doesn’t like us, they may even die. True to the old saying ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’, friendships need maintenance, they need energy and exchange to thrive- it is certainly not impossible, but it doesn’t happen automatically.
- And finally those, in many cases, elusive partners. Without these, we will most likely not experience the last ‘permitted’ connection in our society- the Children. The partner is supposed to be the one who makes up for the lack in all other levels of connection. Whether you lose your job, or your best friend moves to Timbuktu, your partner is the one you turn to on the sofa at the end of the day and say, “I feel a bit sad…” Your partner is the one expected to wipe your tears and make up for any losses with copious strong tea and good conversations. And we then expect he/she to bring us angelic babies that will banish the sensation of loneliness and leave us forever remembered, wanted, loved and connected.
Now I am not saying that a partner like that is not a Godsend. And I am not undermining the fulfilment that parenting can bring to a Life.
All I am saying is- it is a lot to ask..!
One little individual is supposed to make up for our loss of natural connections on all other levels.
It places a strain on the finding of the perfect partner that will stretch you to bursting point. And then enormous pressure on keeping him/her and the relationship.
We over-focus on our relationships and do all we can to keep others happy. In periods at least, we focus more on our family than on our own needs and well-being. In many cases this leads to an energetic imbalance. In the safety procedure in an aeroplane, they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before taking care of any children. Without oxygen, you simply don’t have the energy or the stability to help someone else. So it is a very basic principle to take care of yourself before you can take care of another.
Now this may sound even more lonely. Whereas ‘Romance’ and ‘Starting a Family’ sound as exciting and joyful chapters of your life, ‘Taking Care of Yourself’ sounds infinitely less enticing.
Energetically, however, this is an essential element of getting out of the loneliness trap.
You and I can’t solve the issues of the whole western culture, nor can we ban the existence of loneliness in our world. We can’t force a perfect partner to come into our lives at the time that suits us, or demand for anyone else to pull us out of our depression when that surfaces.
What we can do, is work with our own aloneness and watch it transform. And when we do so, we may notice that the dreaded ‘being alone’ changes not only for us, but through us, for the world around us...
For more thoughts about working with our own loneliness, watch out for my next blog.