Many self development sites try to tackle loneliness, presenting it as problem that needs to be quickly addressed less it leads to serious depression. Yet what these articles fail to mention most of the time is that loneliness is actually an emotion that people experience once in a while.
Social stigma on loneliness has been so strong, especially in its portrayal in mainstream media, that some people get depressed even just by thinking about the possibility of being alone. Perhaps it's time to rethink the way we regard loneliness. Overcoming loneliness means redefining its causes and immediate effects. Only then can you unlock lasting self development skills that can deeply improve your personality.
We have to differentiate loneliness and solitude. The latter refers to a person's choice to spend time alone, whether for a short period of time or for years. Solitude actually connotes positive thoughts, and is linked with such concepts as inner peace and tranquillity.
Meanwhile, loneliness is an emotion people feel even if there are other people around. That bad feeling when you're in a party packed with acquaintances yet nobody talks to you, that sinking emotion that grips you when you're at home and it's raining and nobody's there to cook soup for you, that feeling of longing you encounter during long cold holidays alone in the city - that's loneliness. For other people, loneliness can be triggered by the loss of a loved one, a pet, or a special object of affection.
What causes loneliness?
There are three factors that constitute loneliness.
The first factor involves unmet needs for social inclusion. Everyone wants to be included in a social group, no matter how big or small. Loneliness occurs when you have a strong urge to be included in a group, yet this need is not met.
The second factor involves an individual's ability to regulate emotions. All people get upset at times, but others take distressing situations heavily and bear it by themselves, thereby intensifying the pain they are experiencing.
The third factor is concerned with internal expectations and self-reasoning. Lonely people usually think that they are already exerting extra effort to connect with other people, yet in truth, they are hardly doing anything. Because of this, they get disappointed easily when nobody responds to their need for companionship.
To change the course of things, a new frame of mind is needed.
As was discussed above, loneliness is not a result of bad social skills, but is actually more of an internal matter. So to overcome loneliness, the only self development path that you could take is one that changes personal beliefs and internal reasoning. Here are some tips that can help you get through with loneliness:
1. Being alone is not necessarily bad. Internalise the positive concept of solitude or finding inner peace by being alone. Discover how satisfying it is to conduct an inner dialogue with the self, and clearing the mind of negative ideas. Solitude can help you get to know yourself, your beliefs, and your ideals. Try it. I'm sure you'll also have an "a-ha" moment when you discover something new about yourself in a moment of solitude.
2. Not having lots of friends doesn't make you a bad person. Unlike what Facebook and networking sites have us to believe, we only need a couple of friends to survive in this world. You need real friends, not a hundred acquaintances from different parties you frequent.
3. The path to self development is paved with acceptance. Learn how to accept your personal limitations and don't be too hard on yourself. Setting a high standard might sound nice, but if it makes you unhappy all the time, then it might be the time to change your perspectives.
Author: Paul V Bailey