Happy Sunday all,
Today’s post is an attempt to at least scratch the surface of a situation that many of us are in, a state that we can suddenly be plunged into or a state that can creep up over time, but which none-the-less we can find a challenge to grow accustomed to…
It’s a theme that’s been revealed to me at least three times this week (even this morning as I read a post on LinkedIn) and so I thought it warranted some examination.
The State of ‘Aloneness’
Many, many people are living alone or find they’re spending significant amounts of time, perhaps more than they’d like, in their own company. “Nothing wrong with that!” I hear you shout and indeed there is nothing wrong with that, IF it’s a milieu of choice.
You’re right being alone can wonderfully liberating. It has the potential to be a space in which you really get to understand who you are: Your wants, needs and desires; an opportunity to tap into your deepest fears too and gain a 360’ perspective on yourself. This of course is vital if we are to have healthy, secure and long-lasting friendships and relationships. It’s true, unless you know and love yourself, you cannot hope to truly love another.
But, for some…
That aloneness becomes too weighty to carry.
It begins to feel like isolation and disconnection, especially if it is not a state or space person wants or when there is no deeply felt connection.
101 ways to aloneness
The state of being alone can manifest for many, many reasons or occur because a myriad of changing circumstances and it’s not just the elderly or middle-aged that can find they are now languishing in extended periods of isolation:
- Perhaps your friends’ life stage has changed. They now have responsibilities you don’t or are studying and you’re not, or they’ve moved away for study or work so you’re not able to connect as often.
- Perhaps you’re an ‘empty-nester’ and your children have left home and your partner has died or you have suffered a divorce leaving you in aloneness for much of the time once you return from work or whatever it is you do
- Perhaps you’re elderly and your spouse or significant other has died and you never had children or your children have moved away, or (as is often the case today) your children are not really bothered about connecting with you.
- Perhaps you’re shy and it’s a challenge for you to connect easily. You are respectful and converse as necessary at work or whatever, however socially your opportunities few and others neglect to invite you to events assuming it’s ‘not your thing’ OR ’S/he probably wouldn’t want to come…’
- Perhaps the opposite is true, you’re gregarious and lively company, so people assume you’re bound to have an invitation to X, Y, Z event; someone ‘MUST’ have let you know?
But guess what?
They all did what you did and made and assumption, they decided the responsibility wasn’t theirs and simply didn’t check (Obviously I’m not going to list 101 here, but you get my drift).
The spinster and her cats
I know we’re all familiar with the stereotypical image of the spinster and her cats, alone and dead for so long no one discovers her for months. To be honest, though it’s used as a joke it’s far from funny when you think about it.
I mean to think that anyone is so cut-off, so disconnected from another human, so separate that no-one cares to look in on them or is aware that they are not around.
What does that say about the society we’re creating?
The Legacy of Noah
Noah built his Ark and led the animals in two by two. I’m sure most of us are familiar with this tale regardless of Faith, but what it’s created is the concept of ‘otherness’ for those who find themselves alone or in a state of aloneness.
If you’re not part of a couple or partnership in some form you’re often penalised and made to feel ‘outside the norm:
- There are supplements and extra charges if you want to travel alone, book a hotel room for yourself, but are audacious enough to want a double bed!
- As soon as you meet relatives or friends you’ve not seen for a while the first thing they want to know is if you’re ‘courting’ or ‘dating’ or ‘seeing anyone’ YET – The ‘YET’ hanging in the air like a pregnant pause, taunting you with a gnarly, pointed finger and a ”Hmmm… so what’s wrong with YOU?”
- Every form of media seems to focus on the pursuit of love (coupling) and or the loss of it (heartbreak) and much like the propaganda around body image & size, there is the equivalent range and quantity of propaganda around single-dom and being alone
Join a club…
Get yourself out…
Get a hobby…
All possible solutions yes, however they come from an assumption that it’s just getting out that will solve the problem. Hobbies are often expensive, so can club memberships and getting out can mean yes you’re outdoors or at an event, but again you had to call on the courage to do so alone.
Ironically, when you’re out alone you’re less likely to have people want to connect with you.
I’m not going to patronise those who are in this situation by making helpful but actually facile suggestions. You see, the matter isn’t often that those in a state of aloneness are anti-social, often this is far from the case.
I’m making the distinction between being alone (circumstantial, sometimes active, can be positive, or by choice) and Aloneness (a persistent, perpetual state that seeps back into your every day existence and is often unwanted and or more likely to occur over time if you are often physically alone).
You see, as I often assert, we are here for connection. This is why aloneness can affect even those within a relationship.
*Real connection is: Communication with another in which you feel recognised and heard. You feel that you, your thoughts and dreams, opinions and efforts matter to someone.
When ‘Connection’ takes place, those with whom you connect support you, no matter the distance, no matter the crisis or triumph, Those who ‘connect’ with you don’t do so out of duty or out of a passive aggressive ‘surface’ support or love; (when really they doing little to support you or are actively sabotaging you through comments and actions).
When you ‘connect’ your emotional and spiritual energies are nourished and nurtured by the meaningful interactions you have.
If this type of communication is taking place, even just occasionally, then being ‘alone’ is a walk in the park and why you now see that ‘getting out,’ or ‘getting a hobby,’ will not necessarily cure the ‘aloneness’ state of being.
Interaction Vs. Connection
When we’re involved in social activity, there’s a limit to the ‘depth’ a conversation or interaction will take. So though a person has a hobby, or is active in the community or has joined a club these can actually exacerbate the situation.
When you are out and connecting on a superficial albeit enjoyable level with others and I would not recommend a person does NOT do these things; once you return to the silence and just the gentle pulse of your own breathing it serves to highlight, in stark contrast…
‘Yes’ you Interacted,
but ‘NO’ you didn’t truly Connect!
*(See previous paragraph for my definition.)
So what’s to do?
My suggestion is make the effort…
We can all recognise a that person who has an air of aloneness about them and if you don’t recognise that about the, but know they live alone (and so there’s the potential for aloneness to be a state they’re in) then instead of stepping away (coz they’re a real ‘saddo’ and you don’t want to be associated with them), step towards them!
Would it really take so much from you to just give someone an hour of your time?
Would it be such a hardship to try truly listening to the next person you speak to, so they come away feeling filled up and included as a member of the human race again?
Would it be such a challenge to open your heart?
So for today and the weeks ahead practise
Speak with your heart open
Listen with your heart open
Connect with another…
Heart to heart…
You may just be the one thing, the one interaction that shifts their feelings from
‘What’s the point?’ to ‘I have a purpose’
and in so doing you may just….
SAVE A LIFE!
A chance to connect…
A chance to support.
Help the Angel Help you.
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