Loneliness affects everybody at different times of their lives. Young people are prone to loneliness just as old people are. We all have a pretty good idea of what it is, but not very clear about how to deal with loneliness.
One of the strongest characteristics of 21st Century life is to fill time. To be occupied and be surrounded by people is where it’s at. But we are social animals – yes we are. But we also need solitude and quiet to reflect on ourselves and allow our emotional compass to fully guide us.
Loneliness cannot usually be filled by the presence of other people. Drugs, alcohol, and sex are behaviours used to fight loneliness by filling up and distracting us from ourselves. So what to do?
An understanding of why we are feeling lonely might be helpful. Are we good at making connections with people or is trust an issue? Do we think we are going to be judged? Look at your original family. What was the attitude of making connections there? Did your parents have friends? Did they emotionally support their friends? Did their friends emotionally support them? What we are told in our families is insignificant, compared with what we saw our families doing.
People come into the counselling room asking why can’t I have a relationship? Other people less attractive, who earn less money, seem to do it. So why can’t I? With some reflection and pain what can come up is a hidden strategy which undermines the wish to have a relationship. Like not finding somebody good enough, or not being available emotionally to take on another person’s feelings. These coping mechanisms are learnt early on, were effective – but now hamper us in what we want.
But it is hard and painful to look at ourselves: so no wonder we do not want to do it.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2015
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