Monday, 13 May 2013

How to deal with loneliness

There's something very odd about loneliness. Firstly, it seems to be a misnomer. Though it manifests as a craving 'for people', specifically usually a craving for love or some other form of intimate connection with another human being such as a strong friendship, the PROBLEM itself doesn't seem to have anything to do with not having this contact.

Why do I say this? Well, people can feel lonely with love/friendship or without it. Similarly, not having enough love/friendship in your life and wanting it needn't lead to lonely feelings. So clearly something else is a foot in a lonely mind, and on consideration it seems to be more of an internal problem than anything to do with the external.

There's a wisdom in NLP to the effect of: Loneliness is not liking who you're alone with.

I'd tentatively accept that there's truth to this wisdom, because it seems the case that if you were a happy fulfilled person it would be hard to then be lonely, even if you did crave greater human contact. It also helps explain the unrealistic way in which people get lonely. They want people to come save them from some unpleasant feeling, that seemingly wouldn't be present if they had an otherwise fulfilling life.

The problem with the wisdom is that it's a little vague, there are lots of ways that you could be in some sense unhappy with yourself but still be... happy. Maybe you're OK with the knowledge that you need to make X, Y or Z improvements to yourself to be happier/better off. 'OK' as in it doesn't interfere with your mood.

I have a conjecture, therefore, that loneliness arises when you're not happy with yourself/your daily life, and there is some coercive force that makes you feel that you couldn't do anything about it, so in an eagerness to ignore this unfortunate situation, you focus outwards in the hope that another person can come along to distract you and make you feel happy despite your miserable situation.

This coercion can come from some authority in your life, say a school. It can come from a lack of knowledge, say you feel trapped in a job and you just don't know what to do to get a better job. Or it could come from a more specific ignorance: you've gotten this incorrect idea about how you should live and you're now forcing yourself to live that ways even though it's unpleasant.

Remove the coercive force, make the problem soluble, solve is, and the loneliness should retire.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think that 'metaphysical loneliness' is a thing? Do you think there's some problem that could be described that way which isn't simply about a) having higher self-esteem or b) having more friends?