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How To Escape the Loneliness Trap

By Susan McNeal Velasquez

Penetrate deeply into the secret existence of anyone, even those who seem particularly happy, and their interior landscape will house pockets of emptiness and heart hurts that have left rough scar tissue and abandoned memories from past traumas, struggles and disappointments.

The most common antidote used to counteract lurking feelings of loss is overdoing. When every waking moment is spoken for, the gifts that come from inner solitude are withdrawn.Solitude is the necessary component of self-renewal. Without it, we divorce ourselves from true inward quietness; the soil from which solid self-support and self-knowledge grows.

Here is the paradox. Many highly intelligent, productive, successful people are limping through their lives crippled by heart-squeezing loneliness.

Solitude is one thing. Loneliness is another.

Loneliness is born out of the lack of connection to our deeper needs, wishes, hopes, dreams and desires – those longings that will only whisper/speak when we are quiet and inward attracted rather than lusting after external outcomes and results.

Solitude is the nurturer of our inner richness but will not feed guests that come to her table empty-handed. Solitude hosts a banquet, not a soup kitchen. Solitude will not entertain us when we just give it scraps of ourselves, scraps of our time and scraps of our thoughts.

When we refuse to respond to the needs of our spirit, we abandon ourselves. The denied self will be patient only for so long. The muffled cry of our neglected soul-self begins to seek out ways of amplifying its voice. Like the irritation of sand in the oyster’s shell, loneliness and emptiness begin to take hold. Nothing satisfies that insistent longing to be connected.

We try to seek out others to fill the void.

Unfortunately, they are usually trying to do the same; therefore, this terrible inner poverty continues to grow. Neither person wants to risk the terror of opening up to another because of the fear of being criticized, misunderstood or rejected when they are already heavy-handed with themselves.

Addressing this relationship between loneliness and solitude is challenging and intriguing. If it required following an analytical, step-by-step process, the successful high achiever would have no problem. Block out some time, pick a compelling place and sign up for some rest and relaxation. No problem.

Yes, problem—that age-old adage of “no matter where you go, there you are.” We cannot grow and progress in a vacuum. We all need a safe place where we can debrief. We need to be able to hear ourselves muse out loud in the company of at least one other awake and aware person. We need to see ourselves mirrored in the accepting eyes of another. Having someone to tell is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.

Self-esteem is cultivated from the marriage of the deep knowledge that we are both capable and lovable. We can endlessly perseverate in proving our capabilities by stacking up accolades, awards, degrees and the accoutrements of success. The lovable part of the self-esteem equation, however, requires that we take on the messy business of surrendering our armor.

Self-support and self-knowledge is incubated, cultivated and fed through the process of timidly or boldly involving ourselves in the dance of giving to and receiving from others while continuing to build the inner stability that comes from living a purposeful and productive life.

 

Susan is a local author. She has been writing and producing personal development seminars for over three decades. susanvelasquez.com

 

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