You can feel lonely when you are physically alone or when surrounded by a crowd, which may even include your loved ones.
Wherever it is, loneliness bothers us. It feels heavy on the heart. It is saddening and scary to be lonely. It is such a deadly feeling that at times, even the more-dreaded death seems to be better than being lonely.
But have you ever thought what if loneliness is just an illusion?
Loneliness is an unsettling feeling and death is even more unknown to mankind. You may have experienced loneliness at least once in a lifetime, but there is no one to date who has come back to share the experience after death, besides people who have experienced near-death. When there are two unknowns, it is difficult to quantify which is more harmful. The grass always seems greener on the other side. Therefore, while in loneliness, we may feel that we will be better off after death. But who knows, maybe you are already better off with loneliness.
If you sit with loneliness and give it some care and attention, rather than running away from it, you may find a possible solution.
Is it so difficult for you to sit with yourself? You say, “I can sit with myself, for maybe five minutes…10 minutes…okay 20 minutes, maybe while I meditate…but I cannot be here forever right?” I ask you to ask yourself, why not forever? You long for a soulmate to stay with you forever, but cannot bear life with yourself. Ironic, isn’t it.
I see you are not yet convinced; you continue, “With a soulmate it is easy, but loneliness hurts. It hurts a lot. Life seems like a burden. It seems difficult with this feeling.”
Remember, feelings are not always facts. Ask yourself if the feeling of the loneliness is really true.
With loneliness, you feel your life is difficult, but is it really difficult?
If this is a feeling which is new to you, and life seems all the more difficult to you now, what are the changes which have led to this feeling—can you identify any?
Is there any internal conflict which has recently emerged in your life?
Are you feeling disconnected from your true self?
Is it just a physical distance or there is deeper emotional loneliness too?
Is loneliness really what you feel or is it induced by others?
If you believe that you cannot thrive in loneliness, what is the basis of this belief? Is it a reliable basis?
You can continue probing further to dig deeper into yourself. The probe will gradually help you to accept your loneliness without any prejudice and stop running or hiding from it. You may feel afraid, but hold on. Just be there. Be there for your sake. Keep going. Maybe you have never spoken to yourself, so you feel scared. You are only making friends with yourself. Trust me, this is the best thing that will happen to you—getting to know yourself, your true self.
Getting to know yourself will help you live through loneliness. It is like befriending and winning the trust of the one kid in class who feels angry and frustrated because of being left out by his classmates. He is angry and his reaction results in him beating up his classmates. The more his classmates fear and hate him, the more violent he becomes. You don’t punish this kid, do you? It is wise to sit with him, love him, understand him, and help him overcome his struggle and eventually make friends with everyone. The majority of relationship issues—including the one with ourselves—is due to lack of the intent to understand one other.
Let me assume that you are somewhat convinced and decide to take steps toward befriending loneliness. With some doubt, you ask, “…but Shobhana, loneliness is not the purpose of my life. If I am the only person in my life, I will not be able to make sense out of such a life. With no one around to care, what am I going to do?”
Do not worry, when you are confident in your loneliness, you will always have someone around whom you can inspire. Then you will never be alone.