Understanding Loneliness and Solitude

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Loneliness is fast becoming a social phenomenon in modern fast-paced times, with a smart phone in our hands, our elite companion 24/7! We are well-connected but it is cosmetic. Texting has given way to talking. Even couples, who bury their heads into their devices after a day’s work and also have to catch up with their favorite programs, have to plan a vacation to connect with each other.

Loneliness has a direct effect on emotions. It is more stressful than work related problems. You feel isolated and anxious, there is a feeling of disconnect despite people around you; you yearn for companionship, which may be there but you fail to recognize and reach out.

Whether it is self inflicted or caused by other factors, loneliness consumes your emotions slowly, affecting your mental and physical health. You start losing touch with your own family and friends.

When there is a conflict inside, which refuses to subside, you feel your friends are indifferent, you feel forsaken even by your own instincts and intuition, you start feeling lonely. When it starts haunting, when it grows on you, when the abyss keeps gaping at you, you enter a self-carved tunnel, which continues to get cramped if you don’t open up.

If you don’t feel like communicating your feelings, the roots of your loneliness could be deeper:
• Lack of love during childhoodLoneliness 2
• Bullying
• Loneliness experienced during adolescence
• Lack of good friends
• Cold attitude of peers
• Embarrassment
• Failure to communicate
• Lack of trust
• High expectations/ego
• Cynicism

Chasing away loneliness through joy, which is transitory, attending parties, which are mind numbing and drowning yourself in the sea of humanity, which knows nothing about your state of mind, is meaningless.

First and foremost, you must understand that nobody wants you to be lonely. It is your own choice. If you stop trusting your friends, if you don’t want to forgive others, if you fail to overlook little faults of people around you and immerse yourself in the sea of your own thoughts, it will surely drown you.

If you suffer from lowered self-esteem, lack of concentration and anxiety, they are the early signs, which might degenerate into insomnia, dejection and suicidal tendencies.
You must wake up to loneliness before it becomes clinical depression:

1. Shatter that glass ceiling under which you found refuge.
2. Start trusting people around you, all are not alike.
3. Share your feelings and thoughts.
4. Respect your emotions, they need attention.
5. Step out of self-pity. Don’t seek sympathy.
6. Read good books, they never betray.
7. Cultivate a hobby.

Let’s not forget another aspect of loneliness. There comes a time when loneliness spearheads detachment – to begin the inward journey to spirituality and for that we have to traverse the path alone.

However, loneliness should not be confused with solitude, which can be cherished by spending splendid time in the lap of nature, analyzing your own self, starting a journey toward self-healing.

Solitude is the privilege of the few: those who choose to halt, to deflect their attention to savor little moments and try to live within them. They are the ones who have tasted success and realized its futility. They love to spend time with their own self.
“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”—Paul Tillich

Do you live in the glory of solitude? I am sure everyone experiences those moments of loneliness and solitude. You can share them.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

33 thoughts on “Understanding Loneliness and Solitude

  1. Great thoughts here Balroop. Don’t get me started on my opinions about how the digital era has created so many zombies. We didn’t grow up in that era so we are blessed to be able to differentiate between human connection and texting. Millenials are missing out on a lot of human connection with eye to eye contact and emotions from actual oral conversations. Gone are the days where strangers interact socially too because of the phone addictions. Sad.

    1. Human connections can only be established through spoken words, which are getting lost in the new-fangled devices. Eye contact ia another essential part to convey the right vibes. You are so right Deb, those days of meaningful interactions have been lost in the haze of technology.

  2. Insightful blog, Balroop. Loneliness seems more common in our modern times. We do need to deal with it before it slips into depression. I love being in solitude in nature such a difference and a necessity. Thanks, Balroop:)

  3. A very interesting article, Balroop, in today’s fast living world. There is indeed a great difference between
    solitude and loneliness. Solitude can be healing, peaceful, creative …. and more.
    Loneliness can easily lead to depression and lack of energy to do more than necessary.
    I personally love solitude but not at all times. To be with friends and people is also important and stimulating.

    I believe our modern society lost the ability to live as close knit communities. We move a lot,
    there is less connection between the generations …. and yes, for all ages; media of some kind
    becomes too important.

    Maybe it is up to each of us to do our best to improve this situation.

    Miriam

    1. So true Miriam, solitude is indeed healing and inspires creativity. 🙂 Thank you for endorsing my views. There is no doubt that choice lies with us to understand the importance of communication and conversation that contributes to building relationships. It is our duty to set the right example before the next generation.

  4. Hi Balroop, I am reading and hearing more about loneliness recently. Especially with the introduction of the Smart Phone. You describe many core roots to loneliness. I am aware of family members that choose being alone to a fault. As you indicate, clinical depression can be part of the picture. I am fortunate in that I savour solitude. I wonder whether many writers fall in this category? Writing allows us time to be alone with our thoughts. Thank you for sharing a complicated subject.

  5. It is quite easy to blame the technology and shift the responsibility of raising warm and loving individuals Erica. Children follow what they see and it is shocking to hear the views of kids… when I told my grand daughter one day that I had nothing to do and so I baked some muffins, pat came the answer: “you could have looked at your phone.”
    Thank you for sharing your insights, much appreciated.

  6. Interesting thoughts, Balroop, on loneliness and solitude. Both are characterized by solitariness. Yet loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. It is possible to be with people and still feel lonely—perhaps the most painful form of loneliness. Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and healthy company. Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet, plumbing the depths of our spirit from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Loneliness is harsh, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement, an awareness of excess aloneness. We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the quantum of solitude we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for life’s challenges, enabling us to drive our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and external demands. Solitude is a restorative while loneliness is depleting.

    1. It is a pleasure t read your thoughts Raj, your insights delve deep into the topic, bringing out gems of wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing them. You have added so much value to this post.
      Solitude can only be understood if we step away from the schedules and demands of everyday life. Temperament too has its role and blessed are those who can sit for hours, without a word, feeling the warmth of surroundings and unsaid emotions. Solitude can be celestial but all depends on one’s perspective.

  7. I agree that technology tends to isolate people, Balroop. They think they are “connected” but interactions are so narrowly focused and a broad range of social interactions are missing. I’ve found, over and over again, that volunteering creates instant social immersion and is a sure step out of loneliness. Plus it’s good for the world. 🙂 Insightful post, my friend. ❤

    1. Social immersion is a beautiful expression Diana, I hope more people would understand the need for it. Thank you dear for sparing some time out of the gripping monster called NaNo! 🙂

  8. When I take a look at this generation I feel kind of sad. They are more lonely than they think they might be. I remember loneliness when I was married. It was terrible. We were two but I was so alone, so lost, I felt so empty.
    As for solitude this is my treat, a time to pause and breath in the silence of the day. It’s a blessing but many are afraid of it.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Inspiring always Balroop.

    1. Loneliness in relationships is filled by digital devices these days and people live in the world of denial Marie. I am glad you could see through a suffocating relationship before it could stifle. Thanks for sharing your personal example dear friend. You are so brave.

  9. well said that there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. The traditional Asian socities attach a lot of doubt and questions solitude. This is similar to how reticent people are treated in such a social set-up. Loquacious people, in general, are highly liked because they are able to manipulate their opinion through the gift of gab. People who love spending time alone are deep thinkers.

    On another note, I feel it is difficult for lonely people to get out on their own. Often, people who are lonely tend to get caught in a cycle that is hard to break. It is better to seek psychological or clinical help. It makes a lot of difference. Your reasons for the causes of loneliness are accurate.

    1. I agree with you arv, all people can’t understand how solitude can be enjoyed just like people scoff at loneliness and refuse to understand how grave it is. The reasons behind it could be psychological, deep-rooted in the past setbacks. Do you know any such people? You seem to understand them quite well.

      1. Western societies are more open with the concept of solitude than traditional ones like India. One of the reasons is we are more close knit and there is far more social interaction. Yes, I do. This comes from close interaction and observation.

  10. While I enjoy my sacred space and I am quite happy in my own company, I am far from lonely… I so hear what you are saying here Balroop, as society in general separates itself even further.. I see it all the time.. Even within my own external family members as they sit with their own mobile devices or tablets and do not interact with each other..
    Only this week when visiting a restaurant, while waiting for their food to be served a table of four adults never spoke to each other but each one had their mobile devices out on the table and were texting away or scrolling through what I suspect was social media..
    The art of conversation is getting lost..
    And Children I feel especially are getting isolated within the traps of technology to feel even lonelier…
    Enjoyed reading Balroop and your insightfulness.. ❤
    Much love your way ❤

    1. The sad state of affairs that you have described is the reality of today Sue. I wonder whether people would ever get out of the addiction and get back to real communication. The next generation is picking up the same behavior, hardly aware of the consequences.
      Thank you for sharing your observations Sue. Love and hugs.

  11. A lovely write-up of what it means to be lonely and what solitude is. It is so true how many of us feel lonely, and agree there can be many causes of loneliness. Mental illness or having a chronic illness might also contribute to loneliness, and that might not be entirely your fault. It can be hard to build up self-esteem, but the more you step out of your comfort zone and mingle with others, the more you come out of your own shell. This article is so timely. A few days ago I was reading the news and came across a piece that said more young people in Australia are feeling lonely these days and found it hard to fit in. Anyone can be lonely, any age group.

    Always like the topics you write about, Balroop. They are always so relatable and engaging 🙂

  12. Interesting post! I have felt intense loneliness and I have also enjoyed greatness in solitude. Being alone can be a great opportunity for us to become more aware about ourselves. When I look back about why I felt lonely, I realize that it was largely generated illusion myself. When emotions are not in control, we tend to be taken over by the negative thoughts and one of them is loneliness. On the other hand, the controlled emotions with being alone can give you great time in solitude.

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