The other side of Loneliness

Author: Raju Thomas

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Loneliness is considered as something unpleasant or an undesirable state of existence, associated with being alone. But it is possible for a person to be alone, but not lonely. The reverse can also be true. He may be having so many people around him and interacting with them, but at the same time he may still harbor a sense of loneliness within himself. Is loneliness just a symptom of a lack of physical companionship and social interactions, or something else? Loneliness, in its essence, is just an emotion, a feeling of being isolated and left out from the mainstream in the flow of life. It is such a feeling which is harmful to one’s well being.

What is the real cause of this mental sickness -if I can put it that way-of loneliness? Every person can be thought of as living in two parallel worlds at the same time, an inner world and an outer world, and there is often a gap between what happens in these two worlds. He tries to tune his behavior to satisfy the dictates of the outer world, disregarding what he really would like doing. It is the existence of such a gap which makes him feel that nobody understands him and creates a sense of loneliness. This is just a negative feeling and it is a consequence of the mismatch between his projected outer life and his inner self. More the gap, more is this feeling of loneliness. While reaching out to a person who is feeling lonely could help reduce his sense of loneliness, the real antidote to loneliness, I think, would be leading a life with more authenticity. This means living a life more in tune with one’s innermost feelings. This, in turn, would bring a sense of peace and mental satisfaction. So long as this is achieved, whether one is alone or surrounded by any number of people, he can never feel lonely. This is perhaps the real meaning of the word ‘solitude‘. It is in this type of solitude that hermits live, spending their life in isolation in faraway places. They may be alone, but do not feel lonely.

As mentioned above, loneliness is a negative emotion of feeling isolated, and unable to communicate such a feeling to others. A person who feels lonely cannot easily appreciate such feelings in another individual. In other words, loneliness is something which cannot be shared. But this is not true of solitude, the feeling of which can be shared. One doesn’t have to be in a remote place, away from everybody to enjoy the bliss of solitude. It is also easier for a person who understands the difference between loneliness and solitude to reach out to help the really lonely people.

Solitude also helps to bring more focus on the creative potential of an individual. Imagination and new ideas blossom in the mind of a person living with a sense of solitude. I am sure some of the greatest masterpieces in the field of art and literature must have been the work of individuals with a deep and placid mind, which comes out of a feeling of solitude. It is through such works that they have been able to share their solitude with others. Another positive aspect of solitude is that it can also act as reminders of who and what is important in one’s life.

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