Every forty seconds, someone commits suicide. According to Mother Teresa, the biggest disease was not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather… “the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody”.
Everyone knows that loneliness can be devastating. Anyone who has felt alone understands how painful it can be. For some, the feeling is momentary, but for those who cannot find an escape, loneliness can be a downward spiraling trap.
Loneliness can have a significant impact on our mental health and can be linked to many ailments such as disrupted sleep, increases in the level of the stress hormone cortisol and an overall dip in our general well-being, which in turn leads to depression, anxiety and eventually suicidal thoughts.
But there is another side to loneliness, a less frightful and devastating one. Here is what is looks like:
Loneliness is perceived by many as a negative state, when in reality, it is a cure for many things. Loneliness can connect us to ourselves, to our surroundings, to our life purpose. However, we are often afraid to face loneliness, and end up running away from it by keeping busy to avoid it.
Nobody wants to be alone. Being humans, we are wired to be social. Society teaches us that loneliness is something to be ashamed of. We find people who are lonely cowering behind habits that fill up the void such as creating false personas on social media, trying to stay “connected” with the outside world, because for them, loneliness feels like shame and total abandonment.
From a psychological perspective, loneliness is a highly misunderstood spiritual experience. Loneliness is not emptiness, but in essence, it is our ability to relate authentically to everything. Loneliness makes us look beyond appearances and touch the depths of the soul.
Loneliness births compassion for all things, it matures us spiritually and increases our empathy ten-fold. We become more caring, more compassionate, more deeply considerate. We become more able to look into the eyes of another without shame or fear. We become less able to turn away where we see suffering and pain. We value our connections more deeply than ever before. Each friendship is a miracle. Each moment with a family member, or partner, or stranger, takes on a strange new melancholic beauty.
Loneliness brings with it a sense of rest and contentment, a deep inner happiness and satisfaction. It slows us down and breaks our addiction to worrying about the future. It makes us content with the present moment helping us delve into the world of creativity. All great art, music, poetry, dance, have been products of loneliness. Loneliness is not where we lose ourselves, but where we find ourselves with more clarity than ever before.
No experience other than loneliness can open your heart wide enough and make you weep at the sight of a setting sun or the cry of a baby. It has the power to take us to our most darkest depths, but also fills us up with warmth and gives our life purpose and meaning.
The more you run from loneliness, the lonelier and lonelier you will feel, and the more you will fear being alone, even if you are surrounded by people. But your loneliness may hold all the secrets to your very existence. You may find that your loneliness is not “loneliness” at all, in the end but a deeper connection to the universe, that connects you to the world – and your authentic self – more deeply than ever.
“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.”— Mandy Hale