The difference between being alone and being lonely
My last blog post back in October was about finding love during the COVID-19 pandemic. The YouTube video I made about it got great feedback, and for good reason - who doesn't want to find love at a time when the government has been forcing everybody into solitary confinement and marriages are at a record low?
While the objective seems to be not being alone in life, people rarely talk about how to not be lonely. After all, it's possible to be surrounded by people constantly and still feel lonely. That is because being alone and loneliness are two different things. The first involves decreased contact with other human beings in your life, while feelings of loneliness occur when there is a lack of emotional intimacy.
It's possible to be with someone 24 hours a day and still lack intimacy, for various reasons. It could be that you don't trust the person you're with to understand your innermost thoughts and feelings, or that you don't think they'll accept you after you show them your real self. Or that your opinions about things are so different that you're trying to avoid conflict. Those are a few possibilities.
But there's another reason people might lack intimacy with others in their lives, and this might be the most prevalent: we're having trouble finding intimacy with ourselves. In other words, we do not truly feel connected with ourselves and our deepest values, the kind of values we developed when we were much younger and more attuned to our primal needs. Those deeply embedded values may come out consciously only from time to time, perhaps when we're intoxicated, or sleepy, or maybe never.
For example, as a child, you may have been brutally bullied daily by a fat kid at school named Bret, and the experience was so painful that conscious mind made you forget about it as you grew into an adult. But the memory was still safely stored in your subconscious mind, which comprises 95 percent of your brain activity, and thus even as an adult you couldn't explain why you felt an awful gut reaction every time you came across a fat guy or someone named Bret. You might even act hostile toward such a person and not know why, and maybe even feel ashamed of yourself.
I'm not sure why I just can't stand that guy.
This lack of understanding ourselves makes it difficult to connect with other people; after all, if we can't truly understand and accept our own core values and desires, how can somebody else? All relationships are bound to hit a roadblock at a some point.
The truth is that if you were to go back to your memory hole and relive your experiences with fat Bret, your feelings would make a lot more sense to you and there would be less shame surrounding your gut reaction to fat guys and guys named Bret. You might even be able to reason with your younger self, based on your wiser adult experiences, to consider being more open as there are many nice fat guys and nice Brets out there and not all are bullies.
A couple of days ago, I did a livestream on YouTube on how spending more time alone with your thoughts can help ease your feelings of loneliness. If done right, with a lot of introspection on your part and an attitude of openness to possibly unpleasant feelings, you will get to know your unconscious values better and maybe even begin to question the values that have been unhelpful to you in your adult life. You will start to feel more at peace with yourself and maybe even enjoy activities with yourself that in the past you only enjoyed in the presence of another person.
The goal is not to always be alone, but rather to achieve intimacy with yourself when you are alone, so that your human connections become so much deeper and more meaningful and intentional. Sometimes a therapist or hypnotist can help you get there through regular probing into your subconscious mind.
I'm not sure if the topic of introspection of the subconscious mind is best served in a short blog post, but it's something I'm constantly learning about through personal experiences, and has helped improve my life greatly. I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments, as well as any questions you think I should answer in another blog post.
Until next time! :)