Let's get this straight before we go any further, physically being alone is not the same as the emotional experience of loneliness. Although they can occur exclusively of each other, loneliness and being alone can also occur at the same time, which explains why some people confuse the two. No matter the way loneliness transpires, it can deeply impact your ability to begin, sustain, and/or maintain healthy relationships. So what makes loneliness and being alone different? Being alone is about physical space, not having an actual presence around you. This can be easily altered and has less of an impact on your emotional world. Whereas loneliness is a longing for connection; a strong desire to encounter emotional closeness with yourself or others. Some people have described it as emptiness, a void if you will. This emotional event has much more of a impact on your emotions and how you interact with the world around you. People tend to make unhealthy, ineffective, and unsafe decisions just to fill the void and rid the loneliness.
Here are a few behaviors that you may have done to fill that void only to feel even lonelier.
You bend your boundaries. In order to fill the void you bend your boundaries to do anything you believe will bring closeness in your life. You do things for others that you may not necessarily want to do, like become more agreeable, suddenly become not so busy, and spend time with someone you may not actually want to be around, or give something you didn't want to give. Yet you do these acts with the hope that they bring you some form of closeness through acknowledgment, appreciation, commitment, time or attention. Despite bending your boundaries to experience the connection, you are left with the experience of disappointment, hurt, sadness, even more loneliness, and less hope in people. This emotional event drives the notion to protect your heart from the possibility of being hurt again. The possibility of connection becomes frightening. To protect yourself you decide to spend less time with others, and soon after the decision to never be as open and available again followed. But, being closed off only drives the void even more. In order to rid yourself of the void, your boundaries are bent again to obtain some sort of closeness and clear away the lonely. Maybe this time, you tell yourself "they won't do it again" so you easily forgive, or this happens with a different person. This is not to say your boundaries are at fault here, there is not fault being placed at all. I'm pointing out an emotional cycle that is as hard to get out of as Sprint contract. Nonetheless, you're in it and it just keeps repeating. Longing for connection, opens heart, disappointment, block the heart, lonely, open heart, repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat.
You avoid taking time to be alone. As I shared earlier, people confuse being alone and lonely because they can occur at the same time, so often people avoid being alone and spending time with themselves to stay away from feeling lonely. There are moments when you've done so yourself. You decide to stay busy, taking on so many tasks that you feel utterly too drained to spend time with your inner world. I mean who has time to really get to know their emotions, right! There are times that you've gone to places where you may not really want to be, taken on tasks knowing that your plate is too full, but it beats being in a space by yourself. In a space that reminds you that there is emptiness, a longing for something that you cannot describe. You avoid this space because it requires that you feel the emotions and let them do their job; send internalized messages about how you're experiencing the world. This experience is heavy, it hurts, and it’s confusing, so its avoided at all cost. You're willing to accept the mental and physical drain of taking on too much. You're also willing to be in places you don't want to be in, and you're willing to spend time with people you may not really care for, all done to steer clear of spending alone time with your emotions. This pattern heightens internal disconnection from your physical self and your emotional self. The more disconnected you are from your emotional being the more lonely you feel, which jumps you back into that cycle of stay busy, avoid, take a break, emotionally crash, become overwhelmed, stay busy, avoid, well you get it.
You obstruct you're ability to share deep emotions with others a.k.a. withdraw. When you're stuck in the whirlwind cycle called loneliness, you've lost hope in others and can't stand to feel any type of emotion because all it does is remind you that there is a void, disconnection, no attachment... nothing. All of those behaviors that you displayed to show connection to others left you feeling worse. So you decide that it is best to not share your true feelings with anyone, just mask it with anything but vulnerability; independence, positivity, indifference, aloof, anger, sarcasm, you name it. So when someone is begging to connect, you are no longer able to do so. This reaction is out of fear, done so to protect you from the possibility of being hurt again. You've created this protective layer so thick that it has become impenetrable by others and even you. In order to feel connected with others there is a mutual sharing and caring of deep emotional experiences. Due to the fear, sharing is superficial, surface level. When another person notices the desire to avoid vulnerability, feelings of disconnection begin within the relationship begin. Once disconnection is sensed, then behaviors to fill the void and purge the loneliness begin. Only to self-prophesize that people are a disappointment and not opening up is a good idea. Then the cycle starts all over again.
It’s my responsibility as a Relationship Consultant to get you out of the painful cycle of loneliness. I support you in confronting the hurts, the fears, the disappointments, and all the other emotions that come along the way. I help you embrace your emotional self by teaching you to listen to the messages that emotions are trying to tell you. Once you have that down then you're more grounded in your boundaries, able to spend time with you inner-self, and able to open up emotionally to those you believe to be worthy of your vulnerability. My job is to guide you to connection by simply connecting you to love.