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The Poverty of Loneliness

The Poverty of Loneliness

The most terrible poverty
is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.

~ Mother Teresa ~

We live in a society today that engenders loneliness in a large percentage of the population. We are herd animals and yet as we become more affluent, we seem to be moving away from the family unit, and from living in community. The proportion of single parent families and elderly people living on their own is rising steeply and dating agencies are everywhere, which suggests that certain elements of society are not being catered to as they need.

If you go 5 or 6 generations back, life was a lot different. Single people stayed at home until a suitable (or not so suitable) match was made, and the two individuals then set about making the best of it they could. Of course, this is a generalisation, and I am sure that there were those that do not fit this description. For the most part however, I believe that expectations of living happily ever after were less apparent- happiness was something that was hoped for with some hard work, but it was not an expectation.  At the same time that this was happening, at the other end of life, when old age set in, it was more normal to move in with the family and let them look after you in your old age.

We are encouraged to become home owners from the outset, and we take on astronomical debts in order to fulfil this dream. We move into our house with one other person or just ourselves. Of course, there are families, but I heard on the radio a couple of years ago that 45% of houses in the UK had only one occupant. If you take into account the rising age of the population, and the rising level of divorce, these numbers of single occupancy could continue for some time.

I do know that it is possible to be lonely in a room full of people. Loneliness is pervasive and all-encompassing and really does colour everything that you do. Loneliness drains your life force in an insidious way and often leaves you without the energy to get up and do something about the issue.

However, the fact of the matter is that it would be extremely hard to be lonely almost anywhere on this planet, simply due to the enormous amount of people that we are sharing it with at the moment. Therefore, it is not the number of people around you that is the issue, it is a question of how close you want to let people get to you? There are so many ways to keep people away- constantly working, drinking, travelling, doing, studying and so on- that it begs the question why so many people today are acting in a manner that perpetuates their loneliness?

Why would you not want people to really see who you are?  The most obvious answer is that if someone really sees who you are then there is the risk of rejection, and as this is too high a price to pay, you keep yourself hidden behind masks.  "I am not good enough" is a badge that is worn very comfortably by many people and whilst you look at the world through the filter of "I am not good enough", you will find it hard to relate to people on an equal footing. This in turn will mean that relationships of any kind become more challenging, and so it is probable that you will gradually lose yourself where you feel safe- again, work, money, approval, addictions, being busy, and so on.

Becoming connected takes a great leap of faith and an understanding that others are probably feeling just as fragile as you and equally scared of getting it wrong. The way to become connected is to start to reach out to others and let them in. Join groups, find people like you, and really tell the truth about who you are and how you feel. This may seem like a tall order to some, but it is in the act of being honest that people get to see you and choose for themselves if they want to be friends with you or not.

However, reaching out in a way that is comfortable for you will give the signal to others that you want to connect and maybe you have more courage than they do and so they will be grateful that you made the first move. Remember, not everyone will have the same opinions as you or become your best friend over night. Friendships take time and effort, and you will probably be a little wary to start with. Choose people who seem to have things in common with you and who you want to spend time with.

Another big step to becoming connected is to establish a relationship with something outside of you that is on your side. For some, that is religion, others a Higher Power, others still, angels, or whatever works. It does not matter so much what you believe in, more that you do believe in something bigger than yourself that makes the sunshine, and makes the grass grow. Many people find that being lonely is a spiritual malady that is cured by finding something to believe in that is with you and helping you to get through life. We are never alone, either on this earth plane, or in spirit, we just have forgotten how loved we really are. This is the human condition. It doesn't have to be this way.

The trick is to change the things that you do that make you lonely. Do you watch too much televsion? Spend too much time on the computer? And so on.  It will take some courage to acknowledge how you hide, and even more to do something about it. However, there is a fabulous person waiting to come out to play somewhere inside you! Dare to be you. Step into life. Walk towards happiness. And allow yourself to change- you are worth it!

Written by Caroline Nettle.

 

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