I’d like to speak about a topic that everyone has inevitably experienced at some point. Loneliness. Now, the premise of this post will be more than just being comfortable in your own company, but rather that empty chest feeling that creeps up on you without you ever realizing it. No one goes through life unscathed, that’s why I believe it’s important to speak about things that may be uncomfortable or even daunting. Because if we’re all going through similar experiences, why not help each other deal with it?
Enjoying some quality alone time by yourself is without a doubt an extremely healthy habit. When we give ourselves a safe space to ponder and let thoughts flow, it provides with insightful reflection and wisdom in return. An example of this would be, going on a walk somewhere in nature and enjoying your own presence within the present. Some of the greatest minds of our time such as Beethoven, Darwin, Dickens & even Steve Jobs have taken daily strolls to enhance their creativity and let ideas flow. (This doesn’t necessarily mean you enjoy quality time alone, it’s just an example of how you could) However, even if we have a healthy relationship with ourselves, it’s too often we find a hollowing pain within, yearning for connection.
I generally refer to a term called the empty chest feeling (ECF). A little bit of loneliness that creeps up on you out of nowhere, regardless of how well everything seems to be going. Sometimes it could be out of boredom, our minds’ way of dealing with the fact that we’re all going to die some day. Just think about how much we do to distract ourselves, from the very idea of death. There’s a reason I love the quote “Memento Mori” so much, it translates to “The art of dying”. Ironically, what we’re willing to die for, is ultimately what we should strive to live for.
The ECF is part of our nature I believe, from an evolutionary perspective. To drive social interaction and bonding, as it was more effective for us to work together & build pacts. From hunting and protecting, to building and expanding. The instinctive feeling to connect, drove us to stick together and do better. But at this point in time, when we’re the most connected to everyone around us, why do we find ourselves still struggling with meaningful connection? I think it’s to do with the very nature of being connected with yourself. Remember that no one else can completely fill in the void within you, unless you learn to fill it up yourself.
So what can we do when that empty chest feeling appears, even when we’re comfortable being alone?
Accept it, write it down & let it go! That may sound way too simple, but honestly if you’ve read my post about journalling , you’ll realize how important I think writing down is. But what’s vital here is the first aspect, acceptance. When we consciously accept how we feel, we’ve automatically allowed ourselves to deal with it. Always remember that as humans, we’re not meant to be feeling ecstatic and over the moon at all times. Things do fall apart, we mess up and sometimes life sucks. But that’s okay! If you didn’t have to struggle or experience crappy emotions, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy and appreciate life either. So when a bit of loneliness creeps up, tell yourself: “I love you and I’m listening”. I know there’ll be mixed reactions around this, but it’s something that personally works for me and I can honestly tell you that it makes you feel some type of way.
Having purpose and serving others, is another way of healthily using that feeling to your advantage. When you find something that drives you, something that gives you a reason to wake up everyday, something that has a positive impact on your community, you start feeling a sense of purpose. Start measuring your own success based on the effort you put in & based on the impact you’ve had on others, instead of results or material success.
This post included a lot of what I’ve written about previously, but these are important and relevant points that should always be reiterated. Forming a healthy relationship with yourself sometimes just won’t cut it, which is why we need to look at our species more holistically and be driven by our contributions to society. So taking that together with healthy strolls, learning to accept your own emotions and being there for yourself, would therefore be a better game plan. I’ll leave with a quote as usual:
“You find yourself, when you lose yourself in the service of others.”-Ghandi