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Differences Between Aloneness & Loneliness
Differences Between Loneliness, Aloneness All of us has felt lonely at times... And there can be a big difference between being lonely and being alone. We've all felt lonely, alone, at some point especially when grieving someone or something. We may have let our loneliness, aloneness take us over, losing our self in the process. Aloneness can be viewed as being disconnected from our self, struggling to be with our separateness, whereas loneliness may point to a need to connect with others, community (see also In Tune With Us & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness). Being separate & alone with our self (in tune with our body's connectedness to our emotions & thoughts) is permanent, whether with others or on our own. So although being alone & feeling lonely can be viewed as the same thing, through another lens we could view them differently, that aloneness is about lacking connection with our self - accompanying, tending to ourself in caring, loving ways, and loneliness is about being without company, a lack of meaningful connection with others, including love to & from others. Reinforcing our loneliness, some of us may fiercely guard our independence, believing we've got to do our life alone - denying or repressing any natural dependency needs. When we are so lonely, we may have an unbearable feeling of isolation, separateness. At some level this is an entirely appropriate response, because we are separate. And as we become aware of our separateness, we may have a parallel need to be comfortable with our own aloneness (accompany our self - being connected to who we are) and to seek strong relationships with others, be in the company of others in order to respond to our loneliness. This can become a balancing act throughout our life - an acceptance of our temporary solitude, alongside our search for intimacy and interaction with others. This dilemma of how much to be separate, do our own thing, and how much to be part of something, with others, being more comfortable with both (and what we tell our self when we are alone or feel lonely), can be explored in the loneliness counselling & loneliness therapy. Being around people who we connect with, interest us - sharing our feelings, can take away our loneliness. However, being & connecting with people is always temporary. And besides, when we want to connect with another person, they may not be available to connect with - physically or emotionally absent. When with others or in our own company, we may want to accompany ourselves so we are less alone, connect to what matters to us, what we value.
You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with.Wayne Dyer
Loneliness & Being Alone People who are alone may lead happy fulfilling lives, being with others when they need to be, so they aren't lonely. We may struggle with how to be alone, without being lonely. Whenever some of us are alone, we may not like this, as if there is something wrong. We may feel ashamed. Instead of always having to be busy, a challenge for us may be to develop our own capacity to be OK with being alone (and our relationship to solitude) and being with others when we want to be, so we no longer feel helpless, abandon our self, or define all of who we are through our loneliness, as if we are nothing, unless in the company of others. The therapy may also review how we can be comfortable in our own company without being lonely, or be less burdened by certain experiences and be at ease with ourselves & others.
Degrees Of Aloneness, Loneliness While it is natural in moderation to enjoy being alone or feel lonely, too much of either extreme may adversely affect us. Most of us value being with others. Some of us crave a lot of stimulation from other people, feeling miserable when this is not possible. Others may be very content with their own company. Not everyone who is alone is lonely. Being alone, simply making quiet time for our self, enjoying our own company, being OK may be what we need.
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Connecting, Disconnecting, Reconnecting, Interconnectedness
Being Lonely In A Crowd Emotional connection with ourself and the world around us may be important... It is well known that we can feel lonely in a crowd (yet not feel lonely when we are by ourself). We can be surrounded by people, family, friends, have a busy job, active social life, a stable loving relationship, yet feel lonely. This loneliness may point to a need to belong, make an effort for deeper, more meaningful connection or closeness with others and/or a need to respond and manage our aloneness - our experience of separation, being different. Loneliness can be experienced as a state of emptiness, with lack of healthy, meaningful or intimate contacts with others, whereas aloneness (sense of separateness) can even happen around lots of activity, involvement with others, e.g. whether socialising through our interests, leisure activities like sport, dancing.
Everything is connected.
Connections, Disconnections - Reconnections How We Connect Internally & With Others We all have our own fluctuating rhythm as to how much time we need to spend with others or being on our own - connecting, disconnecting, reconnecting. (Some may forego our quantity of social connections for the quality.) When we have disconnected from others, we are still connected to our self (see also Belonging). We can't connect with others if we are disconnected ourself (and we may feel shame inside), and when we feel connected, we can share connection rather than try to get connection. Connecting to our own inner direction, purpose and values may be important, as may making connections between our past, present, future. Our experience of connection, disconnection may also point to being bored, loss of vitality. Relating with others - our interconnectedness and, if we are in a relationship, making connections with our partner enhances our sense of connection. Sexual connection may also be important for us. Being autonomous & part of a couple, being connected, disconnected, reconnecting, yet remaining emotionally connected with our partner can be challenging. We may mistake going along with others as being connected with them, without paying attention to our own reality. When we feel disconnected for whatever reason, we can become stressed, anxious. The experience of being emotionally connected, disconnected, in or out of touch with our feelings may also relate to how we engage, disengage, use technology, computer, internet, mobile, social media, gaming, TV, etc. We may be very connected to external reference points (e.g. things, gadgets, etc.), at the cost of our internal reference points, the relationship between our external sense of worth & intrinsic sense of worth may be worth examining. (See also Got To Do It All Ourself). The therapy may also explore our internal connections we make, e.g. how we feel connected to key aspects of ourselves (our feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality, body - being centred, re-connecting to who we are, being grounded and secure in our body), so we feel personally empowered. For some it can be as if we are connected, yet not always know it (see also Role Of The Unconscious - "The Yet To Be Revealed"). We may overlook that it is also our vulnerability that connects. For others, connecting with our spiritual feelings or a spiritual love has the potential to embrace both aloneness, loneliness. (See also The Connections We Make)
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We get to know others through the limitations and breadth of knowledge in what we know about ourselves.
Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns It is said that experiences in the womb and interactions between mother and foetus, lifestyle, diet and level of stress of the mother to be, including her own perspective about the baby directly affect the infant's brain development before we are born. And when we are born, how parents instinctively respond to the baby's signals not only continues to influence our biological processes and neural pathways, but also influences our view of the world. When we are born, we are helpless and learn to adapt to get our needs met. What is most important for us is connection with our primary "caregiver", a biological imperative through pre-verbal experiences & interactions - usually our mother, connection with her body for sustenance, critical for physical & emotional survival (and because we must attach, we will adapt for better or for worse to the needs and vulnerabilities of our caregivers). And it is these pre-verbal experiences through our caregiver's emotional connection and attuned responsiveness (where our attachment figure is capable of reading our mind, being empathic) that enables us to feel held, safe and secure, nurtured, loved, lovable, able to develop the ability to regulate our feelings, providing us with a safe haven, which we can take in for ourselves (see also Physical Feelings, Somatic Reactions, Other Reactions). The quality and tone of the emotional environment, affection around us, shapes our brain development (building and developing neural pathways), as we respond and interact with our caregivers and they in turn respond and interact. Therefore our experiences are determined by the adults around us. Embedded in our early experiences, we may believe everything we think and feel, creating an internal working model. These pre-verbal experiences (including what was sensual, pleasurable, and whether these were validated or inhibited - see also Carrying Shame) support our growth, as we begin to make sense of our senses, make up the core of our developing self - often invisibly influencing our attachment style in our intimate relationships and how our emotional avoidance, dependency needs are expressed, unexpressed. In order for this healthy connection with our attachment figures - our caregivers, they need to be connected with themselves, and if they are not, they cannot fully connect with us - mirror us back. If we weren't seen as ourself, struggled to receive attuned responsiveness then this mirror we see in our caregiver may be confusing (maybe affecting our sense of identity now) and we may also have learnt to only look at others, yet not look into them or truly see them and this can continue into our relationships, including commitment issues (see also The Impact Of Our Past Affecting Our Relationships Now). Without this healthy role model, echoes from our early upbringing, fuelled by our early, unconscious beliefs may reverberate now (as we learn to adapt aspect of us may have been forsaken) and we may continue to experience unmet needs, yearnings from our very early life (see also Our Painbody) and therefore struggle to connect with ourselves and others, which may render us experiencing separation anxiety or feeling lonely - seeking connection. We may often unconsciously try to fill our need for connection (e.g. in our relationship or marriage by becoming needy or controlling) through fearing rejection or abandonment (and maybe fearing any conflict). Through the therapeutic relationship the therapy also explores our own potential to heal our relationship.
Healing From Our Early Attachment Wounds, Lack of Bonding We may want to heal our inner disconnection, wounds, self-criticism, doing the inner work necessary to connect with ourself by compassionately learning from all our feelings, especially those painful ones. And when we reject, ignore, judge these uncomfortable, unwanted feelings, turn to unhelpful habits or addictions to avoid feeling them or try to make others responsible for them (e.g. wanting our partner to treat us in ways we would have wanted from our parents or only look to others for validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance), we may have abandoned our self, rendering it difficult for us to connect with ourselves and others, including our partner and we may look to them to fill our lacks. Some of us may struggle to understand that we can't always directly heal the lack of early bonding with our mother, father (they may not want to change or heal themselves or they too may be carrying their own experiences of earlier bonding patterns). Accepting this, letting go of this hope, can be the start of our healing process as we no longer re-wound our inner child by our wounded self trying to get through to our parents yet end up feeling hurt, rejected. Our early attachment wounds and latching-on patterns have the potential to be healed when we learn to be our own loving adult to our inner child - being the loving parent to ourselves, acting as a basis to also heal now through loving relationships. This healing can also help us attract a loving partner who is no longer at our common level of wounding. And in our loving relationship when we are able to receive help from others who truly see us and value our essence this also helps heal our lack of bonding, early attachment wounds. (See also Interactions In The Therapy)
Babies are like the raw material for a self. Each one comes with a genetic blueprint and a unique range of possibilities.Sue Gerhardt
Aloneness, Loneliness, Connecting With Our Self, Others & Life We are all different. Some of us enjoy our own company, it gives us the opportunity to do all the things we love to do, tackle things we've put off, learn, be creative & relax (experiencing a deeper connection through being alone, observing, reflecting, supporting our self awareness, without numbing our feelings). At the same time we may need strong, personal connection with others (see also Relating With Others - Our Interconnectedness). Some may benefit from their own spiritual practice or religious beliefs, whether alone or sharing their experiences with intimate others, affecting their lives in meaningful ways. The counselling and loneliness therapy can be alongside you, exploring this aloneness feeling we have, what it might mean to not only seek connection with others, so we are less lonely, but also be comfortable with ourself and life itself (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing) when we are alone, where simply being in the moment, connected to our own sense of presence, whether alone or with others, can support or transform us (see also Mindfulness).
Connecting With Others Our instinctive need to connect propels us towards kindness, intimacy, commitment, contribution to others around us and self-sacrifice. Yet sometimes this instinct can push us towards being clingy, controlling bringing us up against our own dependency issues, acting out our own drama triangle in the process (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)).
Loneliness & Aloneness - Our Experience & Responses When we are lonely, we may need to find ways to connect with others (outer work), yet when we are alone, we may need to find ways to connect to our self (inner work). We may therefore need a dual response towards feeling lonely and alone. When we are feeling lonely or alone it may be hard to tune in to what will satisfy us and our needs, whether it be making good connections with others, or finding out what connects us when alone. Uncomfortable, a point may come when we are on our own when we ruminate, go round & round in circles, have no one to share our thoughts with, needing the company of others on other occasions, we may choose to reconnect with our self. Some may be seeking a spiritual connection. In the counselling & psychotherapy we may also look at both our external and internal belonging needs, so we are more aligned, close to others and indeed our self (see also The need to belong and share with others). Loneliness therapy & counselling attempts to find out what it's like for you to feel lonely, alone, what helps & what doesn't help, what you need more of and what you might need to let go of.
'I am,' I said, To no one there, And no one heard at all, Not even the chairNeil Diamond
'I am,' I cried, 'I am,' said I, And I am lost, and I can't even say why, Leavin' me lonely still
Relating With Others - Our Interconnectedness It is well known that we can be surrounded by people, yet still be lonely even in our relationship. When we lack certain relationships in our life, we can feel lonely inside, even surrounded by friends and family, struggling to connect, be at ease, emotionally intimate with them. We all experience loneliness at times, yet our loneliness may become a problem when it settles by becoming consistent and persistent. This may slowly lead to having more negative thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, especially if we begin to isolate ourselves too much. We may feel lost, yet we find ourselves, enrich our perspective, through making connections with others. When we deeply connect with others, we are deeply known. Some of us may struggle with making time for others, relating with them, reaching out to others, receiving from others. We may want to share our interests, passions, be playful, in the moment, empathic, expand our social circle, boost or nurture our relationships, giving us a sense of belonging. We may put up walls of protection. Some of us may overvalue our independence or solitude. We are also sociable people, needing a certain level of quality interaction, and without this, our communication and social skills may diminish. Simply being in touch with the interconnectedness of all human beings - what we share in common, day to day shared experiences, our vulnerabilities, interdependence with others and the environment, may help us connect (see also Our Need for Love, Connection). Our interconnectedness, emotional connection and relationship with others, connecting to our own inner journey, may also pose questions for us about the interconnectedness of our past, present, future.
Aloneness - Our Need To Be Connected To Our Selfhood Some of us may struggle with what to do with our own company (our separateness), being at a loss when others are not around (or even when they are around). We may have a sense of alienation, emptiness, which may point to a need to be comfortable, at ease with our self - our own company, whether with others or not. Getting to know, liking & being intimate with the person we are, enjoying our own solitude and engaging in our own ordinary, favourite or new activities alone is a different challenge to being lonely. If we abandon or stop caring for ourselves, having little self love, our experience of aloneness is likely to magnify. We can do this by comparing us with others, ignoring or discounting our feelings, maybe making others responsible to accept or approve of us, give us what we need. We may also have some unhelpful beliefs about happiness, suffering, love, as if somehow they are not interconnected. And as we accept who we are in our own selfhood, we may also be in contact with a need to belong (see The need to belong & share with others), be in tune with us and the wider world or seek a spiritual path. The therapy explores what personally connects, disconnects us and supports you in staying connected and being true to who you are, anchored in your own ground, able to self-reflect, so you are less troubled being alone in your own company, being your own best friend, befriending your aloneness. (See also The Connections We Make)
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Aloneness, Loneliness Now, In Our Past, Questioning Our Future The experience of loneliness & the need to belong can begin in our early years. Painful rejections from our past may compound our loneliness now, as can struggling to lick our wounds when we are alone. Believing we are different to others, it can be easy to conclude that we don't belong or never will, and we can create scenarios & experiences to prove our loneliness & aloneness in our adulthood. These beliefs can go back years. Reflecting on our future, we may be questioning what is our purpose. This can be explored in the therapy. Counselling & psychotherapy can offer support in overcoming our loneliness and how we respond to our aloneness.
Constant Loneliness, Aloneness When lonely from our hurt, wounded place, it is difficult to respond compassionately from our adult self, which has a different quality to it. We all feel lonely from time to time. Our aloneness, loneliness may be one of many feelings we experience. Some of us may constantly feel lonely, feel alone, unable to like ourselves or allow us to be liked by others. Our esteem & confidence may be low. Some of the roots of this may also point to experiences of wounds from when younger. We may have learnt to consciously or unconsciously cut ourselves off because we may be afraid of more pain or hurt from earlier unhealed wounds. Staying in touch with who we are - our own existence, so we don't lose or abandon our self, may be important. Getting over the feeling of loneliness by participating meaningfully with others, being OK or thriving at being alone without being lonely may be important for us. How we elaborate our sense of existence by being part of other groups and developing our own individuality, is up to us. For some our anxiety, sense of helplessness, may get in the way.
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Empty Inside, Emptiness
Emptiness, Nothingness - What May Be Happening Inside We may experience a sense of emotional emptiness in us or feel emotionally empty in our relationship, marriage. How we want to fill ourself may be a dilemma whether we fill our emptiness from the outside or within, so we feel fuller, living a fulfilled life. We may feel ashamed, insecure, inadequate for feeling empty, which compounds our emptiness. It may be important for us to reconnect to our self with our sense of being a complete woman, man of substance with our own integrity & authenticity - be whole, comfortable with who we are, be safe & loving inside, in touch with our personal experience of a space - our own space, centred, grounded and secure, anchored in our body, so we are no longer empty or afraid, giving our experience of emptiness our full warmth of attention, being self compassionate. We may have a sense of just existing or going round & round like a hamster on it's wheel, feeling unhappy, depressed or bored inside (and we may want to consider choosing a different way home for a change.) It may also be important to move our focus away from our head & re-connect to all of who we are and at the same time be in touch with the innocence of our childhood, our essence and staying present, being loving in the moment (less focused in negative ways on the past or the future), in touch with our being, so we no longer create our inner emptiness. Our pervasive empty feelings may point to an empty love in our relationship, fears of rejection, abandonment or struggles with sharing love with others - see also Giving, Receiving & Sharing Love - Loving & Being Loved. (Giving ourself away at times, we may also become very needy in our relationship.) Associated with our early connections and bonding patterns, we all have a need to connect now with ourself and others so we no longer live as if only we count.
Emptiness, Nothingness Some of us may have bottled things up, numbed our feelings, closed off, shut down. Lost or stuck inside, our void feelings may also point to what we are "avoiding" - not paying attention to inside us, experiencing all of who we are and the life & soul of who we are. We may at times have pangs of emptiness & nothingness, numbness, flatness, deadness maybe connected to the beliefs of our wounded self - an absence or void inside of us (especially after a bereavement, relationship breakup or when our love has been unrequited a long time ago or currently). Some of our feelings may have been squashed down, and embracing them (even our painful ones) may help enliven us. We may be simply hungry for not having our basic dependency needs met. We may hold on to the belief we've held since childhood, that only someone else may make us loved, safe or that we should simply "get on with it". Empty inside, we may have insatiable needs and look to others to fill them. We may feel empty inside if others treat us badly, our heart can ache and it may be important we don't make others responsible for our fullness, confidence & wellbeing, so we don't give our "inner child" away. We may struggle to soothe, nourish ourself and frequently turn to others for connection, validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, acceptance, or to all sorts of unhelpful habits or addictions (including using love or sex) to fill us. Others may over-please, over-give or give ourselves up for others (see also Healthy Side Of Being Self(ish)). Filling our own well of emptiness through nurturing our own wellbeing, keeping our heart open so we don't shut down, finding love in the things we do, building and strengthening relationships may be important. Alongside getting our basic dependency needs met, something else may be missing in our lives, and we may have abandoned ourselves or simply need to belong. For others our sense of emptiness may point to an existential or spiritual vacuum - existential emptiness or existential loneliness, which may relate to a longing, yearning or spiritual void.
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What Else May Be Happening Inside
Our World Of Loneliness, Aloneness We may be happy & content, loved & connected in many ways, yet separate & alone or lost inside our loneliness, aloneness. Sometimes the pain, the unspoken or predictable routines, e.g. in family life or with certain friends, can create a sense of aloneness, which is different from loneliness. We can also be alone & feel lonely in our relationship or marriage. Struggling to trust ourselves, trust our partner, at times it can be as if we are always on the outside looking in. Some of us can experience the pain of loneliness, aloneness or discontentment to the depths of our very core, especially when we are grieving an aspect of our life. Feeling alone or so lonely we may sense there is a void in our world, empty, isolated or desolated, as if somehow we don't belong. Inside we may feel ashamed. Our world may seem mundane. Some of us may struggle with this pain of loneliness, accepting its temporary place in our life at times. Others may mistake depression for loneliness. (See also Belonging)
Rejection & Loneliness, Aloneness Initially we may feel very alone, lonely inside, after a relationship breakup. Feeling rejected, abandoned, lonely can be very painful. We can experience intense sadness, sorrow or grief, become self-critical. Physical feelings, maybe a burning or sinking sensation, feeIing empty, void, hollow, out of touch with our body or for others a sense of heaviness may prevail, when we aren't with people emotionally close to us (see also Our Body's Interconnectedness To Our Thoughts, Emotions, Etc). For some, our loneliness can be caused by, or causes us to distrust people (even us), through fear of being hurt or abandoned again. This fear can lead us to alienating ourself from others - even those closest to us. Being closed off around others (and our self) enhances our loneliness & aloneness. The counselling & psychotherapy supports you in nurturing yourself & connecting with others, so feeling rejected, lonely or alone is not so overwhelming.
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Modern Living - Lonely In London, Alone In London Our modern lifestyle (employment contracts, the age of the internet, high proportion of people living or working alone in London) is prone to render many of us being lonely in London, alone in London. Even in London, we may still be lonely, despite all it has to offer. Because of our reliance on technology we may neglect to nurture meaningful relationships & real human contact with others. Feeling lonely in London can creep up on us & we can experience detachment, separation and alienation from other people. We can become anxious that we are on our own without a sense of our own identity and where we fit in, security (see also Re-Connecting To Who We Are, Being Grounded & Secure In Our Body). We may be seeking a security outside of us, which we can only resource from inside (see also Emotional Insecurity, Inadequacy). Empty or lonely inside we may turn to comfort food or other unhelpful habits, addictions, which may further contribute to our sense of loneliness, being alone in London.
Pangs Of Loneliness Loneliness can at times be painful. We may notice pangs of loneliness arriving out of the blue. We may believe that our loneliness is a fixed state, yet our experience of loneliness rises & falls, and is temporary.
Loneliness In Us All Discontented, we can experience loneliness as if it is our familiar companion, always there in the background, surfacing into the foreground from time to time. We may believe that loneliness is only our experience, not a human given. Some of us may feel ashamed if ever we are lonely, that somehow we shouldn't be, as if something may be wrong with us. We may also believe we are not good enough, feel afraid, looking from our wounded self to the external world for relief. Battling with our feelings of loneliness as if we are lacking something, we may believe we shouldn't experience this, giving ourself hard time for doing so. Yet we human beings may also be experiencing our separateness, struggling to acknowledge this alongside our connectedness to others, (that we are also not separate) spirituality - whatever this means to us.
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Reacting To Our Loneliness, Wanting Someone Or Something To Take It Away Some of us may fear that loneliness may be our permanent state, almost responding in ways to confirm this in our actions, inactions. In response we may try to be with people - any people, just to stave off our loneliness, avoid making meaningful relationships (see also Love Needs, Love Addiction, Love Addicts). Struggling to stop, reflect, we may keep very busy, drown ourselves in other relationships, which may be superficial, unrewarding, compounding our loneliness. Some may respond to their loneliness by always having to keep busy, turn to work or unhelpful habits or addictions. We may always want to be in the company of others even if these relationships are very superficial, unfulfilling. We may have serial relationships, struggle to be satisfied, enjoy, or feeI good in our own company (aloneness). Some of us may have developed a pattern, lifestyle, where contact with others, having a social network, and maybe even our social skills diminish. Those of us who feel lonely, empty, alone, may try to surround ourselves with others, rather than having to face our own company, feelings of emptiness, emotional emptiness. Others may do the opposite, hiding away, maybe drowning our sorrows, often accompanied by unhelpful habits or addictions, so we don't have to acknowledge our hurt, pain, face others making connections with them. When we have inevitable periods of loneliness, we may also want to constructively use this time to prepare for change, connections with others, for times we are not lonely, reaching out to others.
Turning Loneliness In On Our Self Or Out Into The World People may find it hard to reach us, and even we can find it hard to reach ourselves. We can experience inertia or become closed off inside & to others around us. We may have decided it's too hard or stressful to be in a relationship, live with someone, because we don't want to be with someone who has needs, is needy or controlling, we get hurt or experience the pain of loss, that when we are in a relationship we somehow lose ourself. Yet being lonely, frequently alone, may also be very stressful. How we recreate these painful & isolating experiences, what they mean for us and whether we are willing to respond differently to our loneliness, reconnect with others, can be explored in the loneliness therapy. Struggling with our motivation & completing things may compound our loneliness.
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Got To Do It All Ourself Our loneliness can sometimes be our survival technique, if we want to come across as very independent, not needing others. Yet if we are so independent we may struggle with acknowledging our dependency needs and interdependence, that both I and others have choices and needs, relationships affect us, control is shared, we are more powerful together (see also In Tune With Us & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness). Being comfortable with being separate, so we can engage, disengage & re-engage, may be challenging. We may also be fearing intimacy. Concerns about being autonomous yet part of a couple, choosing commitment in a relationship may also be a further dilemma for some. (See also Dependence, Independence, Interdependence)
No man is an island.John Donne
Emotional Intimacy With Our Self, Others, Responding To Conflict, Confrontation Lonely, some people can report struggles with being relaxed, in contact with others, having meaningful relationships with others & intimacy. In our interactions we may struggle to express our needs, wants, difference, what matters to us and we may fear conflict, confrontation, which compounds our loneliness. Connecting with our self, being in touch with how we are, can enable us to be in touch with others, and this can be explored in loneliness counselling & psychotherapy (see also Emotional Energy, Emotional Health, Emotional Growth, Emotional Intelligence - Being Emotionally Connected).
Fear Of Being Alone Being alone can be painful when there is no one else to turn to. Sometimes we may be so afraid of being alone, that we establish any relationships, even unsatisfactory ones, with others, rather than risking letting go, being in our own company. Rather than risk being alone, we may choose partners, which don't suit us, yet we may end up being alone, lonely anyway in our relationship. Being alone can enable us to establish a deeper connection with our inner self, recognise our emotions, work out what we really need, restore our energy & plan our future, giving time to embrace nature, silence.
Pangs Of Aloneness Our sense of separateness can come from nowhere & visit us at times as if the weight of our aloneness sits upon us. It may be a challenge for some to respond to being with our own company in less negative ways. These uncomfortable feelings don't have to be fixed or last. And as we allow these feelings to blow through us, they can blow away again. On other occasions we can respond to being alone by seeing and relating with others in way that enrich us or choose this time to develop our own self reflection, observation, awareness.
Overcoming Emptiness Emptiness can be experienced as feeling numb, despair or incomplete, that something is missing, which we can't put our finger on. It can be as if life has no meaning no matter where we are, how successful we are. Discovering the patterns that make us feel personally empty, and what supports us may include:
- Accepting our emotions
- Allowing for change in our life
- Giving ourselves the care and attention we need
- Finding our passion and taking charge of our life may be our challenges as may finding love in all what we do
- Strengthening our relationships with those around us
- Pursuing meaningful goals
- Getting to know ourself better
- Taking steps to follow what matters to us in our life
- Identifying our strengths & working with areas of improvement
Being Separate Loneliness can give us an opportunity to reconnect to the person in us. Some of us may struggle learning how to be alone. The process of separation, and how we manage this, supports our growth towards being an individual. When we are feeling lonely we can also be overwhelmed by an unbearable feeling of separateness - our aloneness. Our struggle may be to accompany our self, staying in touch with our self. Sometimes we can manage this separateness well and other times get anxious, insecure, feel abandoned, unloved. It can be as if we are inconsolable and that our feelings are hard to bear. When alone, taking charge, responding to our own feelings of aloneness, tolerating & accepting that isolation happens throughout our life can help us manage our feelings. Sometimes with the best will in the world others can't be there for us or give us approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission or confirmation. How we respond to this may be challenging. For some our aloneness, loneliness, may also be attributed to us being out of balance between what we do and how we are (see Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold).
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Being Separate, Yet Part Of Something Being in the company of others, and accompanying ourselves, may be important. When we are so lonely, alone, we may not only have forsaken others, but also us. When we are separate, alone, we may need to find ways of accompanying our self, being at ease with our life. And being at ease with our self when lonely we may also need to find ways to accompany others - giving & receiving.
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Responding To Our Aloneness, Loneliness
Judging Ourselves For Being Lonely We all experience loneliness, aloneness, yet some of us may judge ourselves, that there is something wrong with us. Loneliness, aloneness can be hard feelings to manage.
Avoiding Or Embracing Our Loneliness, Aloneness Some of us may try to avoid the feelings of aloneness, loneliness, emptiness, pain that we all feel. We may then become stuck in our old wounds. Keeping ourselves busy with healthy or unhealthy distractions can bring us temporary relief from loneliness yet may not alleviate it, and the more we try to avoid our feelings of loneliness, the more its effect upon us. Experiencing our loneliness, embracing it with compassion, tenderness and understanding acknowledging our loneliness it, that something in us needs attention from time to time may support us, allowing for acceptance and peace of mind.
Alone again, naturally.Gilbert O'Sullivan
Protecting Ourselves Against Loneliness, Aloneness Some of us may prefer to numb ourselves, disconnect from our loneliness, which can also affect others pulling away from us. We may try to control others to avoid these feelings. In our moments of loneliness, connecting to this place inside that doesn't feel OK, even though we are not "feeling" OK, it may be important to reassure ourselves that we are still OK in our own company, so we don't have to automatically avoid our loneliness, aloneness anymore, nor abandon ourselves. It can be a challenge to acknowledge we are lonely when we feel it, experiencing it, getting to know & tending to this vulnerable part of us who feels lonely, also open to listening to what may be causing this.
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Aloneness, Loneliness - Reconnecting We may not want to feel alone or lonely, yet we do at times. Loneliness is not about us being alone physically. It may also be about our personal subjective experience of being on our own, what we make of it & what we do with it. At times we may be missing a deep connection, a certain kind of relationship with another & at other times we may struggle to settle with our self. We may forget our self, need to reconnect, take our own space. Lost inside, we may struggle to be fully present, remember where we are & who we are - all aspects of us, accompanying ourselves so we are less alone. Reconnecting to where we are from may also be important Some of us may wait for others to respond to our loneliness, which may be a long wait. Readjusting how much we give as well as receive, may support us. When lonely, creating meaningful social interactions, making intimate connections with others, so we are accepted, less lonely may support us.
Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.Victor Hugo
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Types Of Loneliness Exactly what is loneliness is not always a simple question to answer. One way of looking at loneliness is to distinguish it as degrees & causes of loneliness:
- Through our circumstances - We may have chosen to change our circumstances, or they be chosen for us, for example moving to London, the end of the relationship, loss of job or retirement, bereavement, loss of an important role we had. The identity & connections we once had may have changed. What once boosted our esteem or was meaningful for us, may have disappeared. Our loneliness may have been caused by our circumstances and we may blame our self. Things around us can seem hopeless or futile.
- How we may create our own loneliness
- "Internal loneliness" - our aloneness, separateness
Being Comfortable With Others All of us have experienced being uncomfortable in social situations. We may get anxious in the company of others at times. Some of us may struggle with setting our boundaries, saying "No", some with being assertive, others with expressing their feelings.
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Attending to our loneliness may be important... Loneliness like any feelings, is giving us important information. If we are lonely being alone it may be telling us we need to connect with others in loving ways and when we are lonely with others it may be telling us we are closed (or the other person is closed).
Responding To Our Needs How we are with our self and engage with others, responding to what we need, can support us. Being with others affects us. And we may become less lonely in contact with supportive others, having genuine conversations, as we get to know more of who we are. Creating & nurturing a range of meaningful, supportive relationships may be a need. Some of us may struggle to acknowledge that we need to belong & connect to others, so we can share our interests, passions, ideas, experiences, values & love with. Being in touch with our own worth & the worth of others may be challenging for some. Feeling good about our self, being interested in something, can take away our loneliness. Besides doing day to day tasks, we may occasionally have a need to be in touch with what inspires us, our creativity alongside what gives us meaning & purpose, so we can also inspire others. These issues can be included in loneliness counselling & psychotherapy.
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Being Alone, In Our Own Company, Aloneness
Being Isolated, Separate Alongside isolating ourselves, we have all had experiences of being alone, even in the company of others. We may have been isolated, singled out, by being:
- Different, separate in some way
- The last in the queue
- Unseen by others
- Teased, ridiculed, humiliated, maybe when younger
- Simply being aware that we have no company and are on our own
Learning To Be Alone When we are alone we may struggle to be in touch with, accompany our self, and this can be explored in the counselling & psychotherapy. Some of us can panic when we are left alone, struggling to relax in our own company. Spending time, doing simple, day to day tasks, concentrating and putting our attention onto the things that we enjoy or interest us, acknowledging that these times on our own can be rewarding, can support us the next time we are alone. And when we feel comfortable in our own company, we may also be able to reach out to others, more able to give, with less of a hungry need (though some of our basic needs may also need to be met).
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Aloneness When we feel alone we may become despondent, disappointed or maybe agitated, as if something is stirring, that somehow we shouldn't be alone. Yet at one level we are alone with our self all the time, from birth to death and in-between. Our aloneness (this "inner me"), experience of separateness, accompanies us throughout, as we enter into the world, leave the world and all in-between. How we respond to our own journey in life, a lifelong journey only we can undertake, is in our hands. Accepting this natural process may be our challenge. Throughout life we experience many losses, separations, connections. Things come into form (like little births) and things end (little deaths) throughout our journey. The word "aloneness" (all oneness) contains the word "oneness", and this connection to oneness may be important for us. Some may hold spiritual, religious beliefs, which supports & connects them when alone or with others.
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Responding To Being In Our Own Company
Experience Of Being Alone When On Our Own Or With Others We may have ambivalent responses about tolerating, enjoying our own company (aloneness). Sometimes we know we want to be on our own, and other times prefer to be with others. We may also have different needs at different times, enjoying being close with others for a while, then knowing when we need our own company (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). Yet the world doesn't always synchronise itself to our needs. Struggling to accept we are alone at times - in this temporary situation, we can choose how much to be anxious about this and how to respond to this. When alone, we may want to enrich our life, absorbed in our own activities at times, comfortable in our own space. We may feel OK, at ease, relaxed with who we are, doing day to day things, maybe creative or resourceful at times.
Solitude Some of us keep so busy with distractions that we make little time for just being with our self. Yet periods of respite on our own are sometimes necessary. Some of us need to be alone to get to know ourself, be comfortable in our own skin. Others may be concerned about becoming a lone wolf. We can choose whether or not to get satisfaction & pleasure from solitude, making time for periods of reflection, interaction with ourself. This can be as simple as taking a few moments to connect with our self watch our busy minds, allowing ourselves to be still. Being in touch with and responding to our own needs, interests, passions, can be a source of our contentment & stability. The experience of solitude can be precious and rewarding, helping us thrive (artists, writers, etc. know this well), facilitating our creativity to emerge, when we are in the creative space on our own, also having time to reflect, get to know our own meaning & purpose.
Being Resourceful When We Are On Our Own Some of us may be bored, restless, unhappy for no clear reason. When we are on our own, our esteem may plummet as we blame ourselves or resort to activities, which exclude contact with others, being proactive. Exploring ways to be happy, do simple things, keep us mentally busy, tackling new things, developing traits, interests, habits can help us be comfortable with being alone in our own company. When we spend quality time in our own company, we can feel mentally & spiritually refreshed. Relishing our own company, peace & quiet, inner calmness, having a sense of security from the inside may be challenging yet what we need.
Being Comfortable With Being Alone Being all by ourself, relishing these periods of time on our own, enjoying our own company, space, maybe important to us. Some of us may want to be more at ease having healthy downtime spent alone in our own activities, maybe quiet or undisturbed at times, listening to our self, being OK, simply enjoying our own company. We all have a solitary place within us, that no one person can reach - an inner us, which is always alone, a place where we may daydream, reflect and it is this that can be explored in counselling & loneliness therapy. Getting to know and being comfortable with this "inner me", attending to, valuing, accepting our self may be a need. When we are comfortable with being alone, the less we want to abandon ourself. And as we see, understand and are at ease with who we are, this can enable others to understand and see us.
Inside myself is a place where I live all alone & that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.Pearl Buck
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Making Space For Our Self When we have spare time alone, some of us can get anxious, not feel OK and we can put all our longing needs into our relationships (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns). Feelings which are hard to tolerate (e.g. fear of rejection, abandonment) can come up when we're on our own, and we can make ourselves busy with things to do to distract us from getting anxious. This can help at times. Yet our anxiety may never quite go away (and some of these may point to existential concerns). Sometimes it is as if we are in a cocoon, and we don't want to be there, yet need to be safe. We can become lost, as if we don't belong anywhere or feel ashamed, afraid, as if the world outside is threatening. Being rooted, in touch with our own body with our own anchor points can support us coming into our self (see Re-Connecting To Who We Are, Being Grounded & Secure In Our Body). The different roles, identities we have can also give us a sense of belonging. Simply how to be comfortable with who we are and compassionately attend to our own company, aloneness, can be challenging. Some of us can have a stronger sense that we belong by making space for ourselves and being in touch with our own integrity, learning, trusting we will enjoy our own company, be self-nurturing, avoiding unhelpful distractions, listening & following what we really need - what enriches, supports us to flourish, be in touch with & "find ourself", being as well as doing. (This supports our self-worth.) And when we are in touch with our being we may also be in touch with our longing.
All the lonely peopleThe Beatles - "Eleanor Rigby"
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
The need to belong & share with others, to humanity, community and be part of something outside of us - inclusivity, dedicating ourselves to others, be part of a group, connect, is a primary human need, so we don't only live our life as a lone wolf or remain empty inside. We find ourselves, check our realities so they are not distorted through making connections with others - belonging, which supports our self-worth. Being with supportive others, making time for them, doing what we enjoy with others, nourishes us, help us know ourselves. Being with ourselves, involved, at ease in the company of others, that we belong & rediscovering our sense of humour, playfulness, laughter, may be important for us (see also In Tune With Us & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness). In our need to belong we may confuse longing with loving in our relationship or our longing, searching for love (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns). On a profound level, we may need to feel whole, connected - in union with ourseIves, others & the wider world, which can mean different things for different people. Being connected with those we love supports our sense of worth. This desire for contentment, embracing love and embracing ourselves with compassion & understanding may support us, Love & union with others, participating in the wider world, may for some include a sense that everything is connected - part of one thing, that we are not alone, we are one (see Seeking Deeper Meaning) and for others may lead to their own spiritual enquiry or a search to know a spiritual Love.
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Existential Loneliness Feeling lonely, alone, separate, alienated or disconnected may point to existential concerns. We may experience deep loneliness or sadness relating to our very existence - that we are. We may have an existential need to belong, to be a part of something bigger than just us. What this something means for each individual can be shared in the therapy. We may long or yearn for something which is difficult to describe. We may experience a deep sadness, right to our core, questioning the sense of our very existence. In despair our hope may be elusive, as if things have no meaning, nothing matters, compounded by the limitations of our mortal life.
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Aloneness, Loneliness & Re-Connecting To Our Body
Our Body's Interconnectedness To Our Thoughts, Emotions, Etc Some of us may not only feel disconnected, isolated in parts of our lives, but also isolated, disconnected, out of touch with our body, senses and being in touch with the connection between our body, feelings, mind & imagination - listening to what is being communicated may be important to us. As if things aren't interrelated we may miss out on the spider's web of interconnectedness, interdependency, if we are over-attached or identified with a limited aspects of ourself. Our physical symptoms, physical feelings may be indicating to us information about our emotional health. Some of us may numb our feelings, shut down, bottle things up (including our tears) affecting our body (see also Our Painbody). Being present - in touch with our feelings and body, being anchored, centred and grounded may support us. And being in touch with our body enables us to be in touch with our self. When plants & trees are put under stress, they show physical signs. Our bodies too show subtle or direct symptoms of stress, etc. Sometimes, often through fear, we can hold on too tightly to things (memories, failures, etc.), finding it hard to relax. By holding on, our body can manifest tension symptoms. It is as if our anger, trauma, fear, anxiety, depression, grief, sadness & sorrow, or heartbreak, can get stuck in our body, and our pain can cause us physical & emotional reactions. Giving our mind space also affects our body. Some of us view our body, emotions & mind, as separate entities, yet they are intrinsically linked. So when we let go of tension in one area, it affects the tension in other areas. In the therapy you may be encouraged to pay attention to your thoughts & emotions, alongside your physical feeIings - what's happening in your body. Psychotherapy & counselling therefore support you in releasing any pain or tension you are willing to let go of physically, mentally & emotionally. (See Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go)
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.Henry David Thoreau
Now put the foundations under them.
Re-Connecting To Who We Are, Being Grounded & Secure In Our Body When we were younger, we were more physically aware of our body - just being. Now we are often busy "doing" or caught up in our mind. Our body is also our boundary - our own tangible structure & substance in the physical world, so we are not borderless, groundless. Being rooted, upright in our body, in our own structure, aware of our physical sensations, can support us so we don't collapse, disintegrate, feel insecure or ungrounded. Our moment by moment existence through our living body (e.g. pleasure & pain, joy & grief, vulnerability & power) can be experienced as our life energy. Being in tune with our body & all its senses at the same time as being able to observe our self in the world (less preoccupied with likes/dislikes, good/bad, right/wrong - just sensing ourselves as we are) may support us, help us be in touch with reality. And when we are more connected, in touch with our body, integrated, resilient, standing on our own two feet, holding our self, alive to our own personal space - filling it, embedded, inhabiting our body, we are more secure, stronger in how we feel, potent & confident, able to protect & defend ourselves when necessary and participate in the world. It may be important for us to explore our own needs - to know & care for ourself, so we solidly belong in ourself, inhabit the structure of our body, with our sense of security, centred, anchored & grounded in who we are - being our self with our own reference points, so we can ride the unfolding waves of the feelings, emotions we feel, our stress, fear, anxiety, self-esteem, confidence and insecurity, feeling low or depressed, alongside any uncomfortable thoughts. Being in touch with our own space, emotional security, separateness (maybe choosing the longer way home for a change), difference & identity - being the man or woman we want to be, taking ownership & responsibility for our self, feet on the ground, connected, grounded in body & soul in who & how we are in our self, supports our self-worth.
Reclaiming Our Own Ground Taking our place, feeling substantial, being in and holding our own ground may be important to us. The ground we are also from echoing back in time may influence us now. When younger we may have given our space or boundaries away, our own stability & ground, and want to reclaim it - what is ours, bringing our self & attention back into our body matter - that we matter & are embodied (see also Fleeing Our Body), trusting our body (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). Being grounded, internally balanced (see also Balance In The Relationship Or Marriage), feeling intact in who we are, without putting pressure on us that we should always know things, can support us, so we are not easily overwhelmed. How we feel about our body may also impact upon our experience of groundedness. And, as we experience more of a connection to ourself - being with ourself - in our own ground, we can be and connect with others, further develop our capacity to have empathy for others. Our groundedness can give us a sense of being out in the world, in touch with our physical vitality - being alive in the world & present. "I am still here - no matter what is happening." And when we know, sense & feel safe in our own ground, we feel less lost. This connection to our own inner being, secure in our own company, internal presence in our own body, breath, etc. can support us, so we know & sense we belong inside our own skin, are empowered with our own, distinct boundaries - anchoring ourself in our own positive experiences we have now (see also Mindfulness). The experience of being present - living in the moment with our momentum, and where we put our attention, may be important to us, being grounded in the world as we are able to take our own stand - stand up for ourself, be stable, connected to our own values, conscience & integrity & responsible for what we make of our own experiences, taking ownership of who we are, free to walk our own path in our own authority. And the steps we make on the walk - our walk, may be important, so they become the expression of our personal will in action.(See also Personal Freedom)
Our Own Internal Structure, Being Centred Things may have just happened in our earlier life. Other people challenged & supported us and we went along with things, which gave us a structure. Yet we may have followed what life or others expect of us or be pulled in a different direction, without following our own path. Sometimes we may resent it if we become dependent on others giving us what we need or have needed others to hold our hand. We all need the support of others in our life, yet at times we may have allowed others to give us a structure we believe we can't find in us. Isolated & lonely inside, it can be as if we struggle to belong, that we lose our self when alone. We may become stuck, lost, stagnant or low, procrastinate. Sometimes we may want to give up, preferring to hide away, fearing responsibility. We may struggle to tap into our own passions, inspiration, purpose & assurance to support us, motivating our own life. Giving what we see or want from others to our self, may be a challenge. Out of equilibrium, we may want to step back and work out what personally pulls us off centre, what areas in our life are out of balance and what adjustments we need to make. Counselling and psychotherapy can help ascertain what support systems benefit us and what ones don't. It may be important for us to be in touch with our own inner sanctuary, create space & quiet time for us, take pauses, be able to observe, reflect upon our self-awareness, be centred, settled in ourself, anchored.
Connecting To Our Centre Being centred - in touch with our essence or core self, for some can be experienced differently, yet a common denominator is to be fully inhabiting our body - our self, being in our body, experienced energetically. Some of us can feel connected, in our element, when dancing, singing, playing sport, participating in yoga, qi-gong, creatively expressing ourselves, and a whole range of other physical activities we fully participate in. We can also feel more centred when navigating a difficult, yet heart warming conversation or being out in nature. During or after these experiences we may feel alive, vibrant, safe yet adventurous, appreciative, connected, inspired, empowered, present, open-hearted. As if we were like an uninhibited child again, when in this place, it can be as if our body moves more spontaneously & naturally as a whole, often directed from our lower torso, attuned to something deep in our core, allowing this to direct us, rather than our head leading. Placing our hands over our heart, belly, can make us feel calmer, safer. Breathing, relaxing, sinking our focus away from our head back into our belly, solar plexus or heart area can also help us feel centred.
Connecting To Our Core - Shifting Our Awareness Shifting our awareness - our felt sense of ourself, away from our head down to our core, can for some be experienced in the solar plexus, that this is our centre and we feel it. Others may report being "centred deep in our belly", which has been named our hara, and in traditional Chinese medicine as the lowest of three dantain. This centre of our body is described as being located a few inches below the navel, and can be experienced as a sense of inner fullness of our belly (connected to our integrity, yet unconnected with food). And as we breathe into this centre, we can have an experience of coming home to ourselves, without needing to process, figure things out or analyse. We may have a sense of calmness, safety, confidence as we rest in our essence. We may be more able to notice the different quality of our thoughts, rather than be caught up in them, fight them, deny them, believe them. For others a different sense of our essence can be experienced from the warmth & openness of our heart, as we allow it to open, with our intention to learn, instead of control, where love in its different forms can be more accessible. As we open our heart we may be more compassionate, loving & caring for ourself. Analogous to meditation, when calm, still & rested, taking space for pauses, creating quiet time, observing, reflecting, some can experience their life force unfolding, a place where our intuition & inner child live. For some these experiences may lead them to spiritual enquiry.
Fleeing Our Body When younger we may have tried back then (and continue to do so now) to change things on the outside, so we can feel safe, in control, go to a place we can escape to, yet be out of tune with, cut off from our body. So when things got too much for us - as a form of protection, it can be as if we leave our body - having no other choice to escape and when things now overwhelm us - out may we go again. Therefore, when we don't feel OK, some of us may have an experience of our body being "out there" somewhere as if our feelings, mind, body are not very connected (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). Choosing whether to stay or go and moving into our body, tuning in and listening to it, being solidly in our whole body - trusting our own space, personally empowered, getting out of our head may be challenging for some. When overwhelmed, rather than take care of our abandoned self, being in our body, this wounded part of us may bypass these uncomfortable sensations by fleeing to our mind, remaining stuck in our head or towards spiritual enlightenment, needing & believing that this will provide us with a sense of safety, worth & love (which we struggle to give to ourself) because things are too overwhelming for us to stay present with.
Anchoring Our Self Some of us may feel lost, stuck inside or stressed and need some anchor points. Anchoring our self and integrity in our body, in touch with the naturalness of our breathing, making contact with, observing and witnessing all our senses, thoughts we can feel safe, stabilising us in the present, in our own field of awareness, maybe with a sense of connection, completeness, in touch with our sense of being, centred in our own ground, with our personal boundaries. Important anchors or reference points for us may also include using affirmations, choosing a safe place, which we can call upon from our past - holding this now in the present, anchoring ourself in our positive experiences (including memories, creative imagination), being in touch with what's important for us, our inherent nature, values, conscience, listening to our own inner voice, no longer abandoning ourself and being in touch with our intrinsic sense of worth so we have a sense of belonging whether or not we are with others. The counselling and psychotherapy can also explore what thoughts, feelings, memories, imagination anchor us.
Counselling Questions About What Is Loneliness, Being Alone In London, Lonely In London We may have questions about solitude, being so lonely, emptiness, coping with loneliness, e.g.:
- What is loneliness?
- I am lonely, I feel lonely - why am I so lonely?
- Is my feeling of loneliness permanent?
- Lonely in London - I'm surrounded by so many people yet feel alone in London - how can I overcome loneliness?
- How to beat loneliness? How to cope with loneliness? How to overcome loneliness?
- Why do I feel so alone?
- I'm feeling lonely - how to stop feeling lonely?
- I feel lonely all the time - how to not feel lonely and is there a loneliness treatment?
- Cures for loneliness - what is loneliness therapy, loneliness counselling?
- From time to time I have loneliness problems, loneliness issues - is fighting loneliness helpful?