Embracing loneliness

Lonely-robinLoneliness. Yuck.

In much of my world, it’s not cool to admit to feeling lonely. It’s a different kind of scarlet letter. People perceive that admitting to being lonely is admitting to being a failure. Being lonely translates to being unwanted, and the obvious question becomes what’s wrong with you? Why are you lonely? You must be flawed.

For Law of Attraction followers, it’s a definite no-no to lament feeling lonely. They believe that feeling sorry for oneself sets the universal wheels in motion to attract more of the same. More loneliness. More yuck.

Yet to my way of thinking, to deny feelings of loneliness and the pain they bring is hiding. I feel lonely. I should admit it. So I tell myself.

EMBRACE THE YUCK

The way I look at it, we’re here in Earth School to learn about life and love. That means helpings of both the good and the bad. To me it seems healthy to say, “This sucks.” The first step for improving a situation, it seems to me, is to admit that there is a problem. That motivates finding a solution.

I also feel that by embracing the loneliness, I am gaining valuable insight into the human condition. I can be more sensitive to others who feel it. I can empathize with people feeling useless, unwanted, and a prisoner of decisions made that led to it. I can also empathize with the anger that erupts for the lonely — it is challenging in this competitive, materialistic society to find relief through meaningful connection.

Loneliness, I have discovered, covers a lot of territory. It can mean having no one to love romantically. It can mean having no one to talk to about stuff that really matters. It can mean feeling like an outsider, like trash, the wrong this or that. It can mean being the minority race or religion or personality type or age or physicality. It can mean feeling like a victim.

CONSCIOUS LONELINESS

I am going through a patch of fairly intense loneliness right now. I have been looking for various healthy media to fill my mind with positive, uplifting, solution-oriented material. I am astonished at how challenging this is.

I went to the PBS site and started watching some American Experience shows that are available for online viewing. I always thought of these as worthwhile programs about American history. But the more I watched, the more disgusted and then depressed I got. I found less and less to be proud of, as in proud to be an American, especially a white American. The show turned out to be more of a cavalcade of greed, corruption, violence, adversity, racial hatred, and war than of ingenuity, cooperation, redemption, and social evolution.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think it’s a great series! It’s just discouraging. For example, I watched an American Experience program featuring 19th Century corporate monopolies, and then went to Facebook and saw people posting about how that dastardly Monsanto, with US government collusion, is poisoning us with genetically modified yummies. Oh, and Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies are coming back (did you seriously think they would disappear?)

Documentaries in general seem to focus much more on what is bleak about humanity. It’s as if they still want to shock us into social action by showing us how rotten people or big corporations or corrupt governments are. I end up getting outraged at the injustices and then feel lonelier than ever living in an increasingly more hostile environment. Monsanto is out to poison us, health care and big pharma are out to increase our suffering to add to their profits, big oil is out to destroy the environment for their own gain, and you get the idea. The definition of a documentary should be “an exposé about all the crap that shitty people do.”

Put another way, these programs show a lot of victims, and so often, these victims are lonely people. They’re lonely because they are somehow disenfranchised. They don’t belong. They’re ostracized. They’re oppressed. Often they’re conquered and displaced. When I watch a show on the Caucasian invasion of America or slave trading, for example, I’m sickened at what I see, and it makes me feel lonelier living in a world where such brutality occurs.

TURNING THIS AROUND

For years I have considered loneliness to be a major unaddressed social crisis of our time. I believe that it is a root cause of so many other social problems that plague us. People suffering from loneliness in its various forms are more likely to rebel in violent or self-destructive ways. I believe that much addictive behavior is caused by a response to feeling lonely, unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome. Would we be a society filled with such addictions if we had more of a supportive tribal consciousness — if we made it our life purpose to look out for each other?

When I am consciously lonely, I see so many forces in life that work to keep us stuck in various forms of loneliness. Why is that so? Just as more war creates great business opportunities for defense contractors, suffering is great for the economy. Is there a better way to create a happy marketplace for providers than to keep a populace lonely, addicted, mad, and sick? When people are desperate, they buy stuff. Cha-ching.

Of course, loneliness is a hugely complex social problem with a multitude of causes and issues, but when I am consciously lonely, I don’t see society stepping up to the plate with many easy solutions. I find this odd. Profit-making industries cater to lonely people and their addictions, but I find it ironic that our supposedly advanced society isn’t addressing loneliness with hope-and-change zeal.

With website technology, it should not be so hard to provide humanity with a library of self-help tools that would help fight discouragement and depression with positive, solution-based programming. Or there could be an organization like a Salvation Army set up to deal with loneliness and foster cooperation, harmony, and appreciation for diversity.

When I am lonely, I look for my own solutions. It’s not a mental lake I enjoy swimming in. I don’t deny that I am there, temporarily stuck, but I lament that solutions are much more difficult to come by than stuff that is bad for my physical and mental health.

7 thoughts on “Embracing loneliness

  1. nikkir1972 says:

    Wow, another good blog! I am in a sense looking for my own solutions too. I do feel lonely at times, and it’s as you said, loneliness has many different forms. I definitely relate to feeling stuck. That’s where I am right now. It probably would be the perfect time to make use of your exercise you posted about last. (I haven’t forgotten.) I am grateful today that Word Press is working for me again.:) Thanks for sharing!

    • Joshua Bagby says:

      I appreciate your comment. I am having to use my own tools, too! It’s been amazing to me the more I have gotten into thinking about loneliness how many different situations in life it embraces. It goes far beyond not having a playmate for a Saturday night. I do think it is a root cause of many social problems as well as personal challenges.

      • nikkir1972 says:

        Yes I can see the line of thinking on that. I think some people, early on, can develop this habit of thinking they are outside “the norm” or different somehow. Instead of accepting, they perhaps create their own loneliness…already assuming others will reject them when “others” haven’t even been given a chance. It’s easy to see how something like loneliness can be far reaching.

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