“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.” – C.G. Jung
A distinct difference exists between being alone and experiencing loneliness. In Susan Cain’s book Quiet, she presents differences between introverts and extroverts and finds many people who embrace introversion crave being alone in solitude. Introverts thrive, when they are able to read a book in the quiet comforts of a designated space made for the exact purpose, for example. They are more energized and more focused, when they are alone. Thus, the idea of being alone is not one to automatically elicit feelings of pity, sadness, nor discomfort. When an individual may lack the understanding behind another’s natural tendencies or balance he or she must not practice avoidance or aversion. Moreover, if confusion exists over an individual’s choice to be alone, then also withhold judgment or labeling that may result from feeling uncomfortable or from lacking awareness. Offer inquisitiveness and acceptance, instead. Ask questions to learn more about others and to learn more about the self. Recognize how something in another person makes you feel as an indication of a possible area for you to grow. Embrace difference in order to elevate one another into the best selves each one of us has the potential in realizing.
Being alone is different from feeling alone, which triggers the next concept of feeling lonely. Loneliness, on the other hand, from a psychological perspective and more specifically from Carl Jung’s perspective is the feeling that arises, when one’s soul feels entrapped from showing itself due to the differences in pace of one’s own self-discovery compared to everyone else. Making progress in self-discovery may not always feel like progress due to the growing pains involved. Likewise, accepting the duty to realize self-discovery through gaining wider self and other awareness may feel isolating and initiate the feelings of loneliness. However, loneliness is conquerable in many different forms. The first order is fortifying the self consistently. To retreat unto the self when the external pressures are piling in magnitude is the most reliable course of action to regain centeredness. Creating and maintaining meaningful and genuine relationships with others is the second order on how to counterattack loneliness. Building connections that meet the progress you have made in different spheres of your self-discovery is paramount. Feed each side of your personality, pursuits, and passions by keeping others in your social circles that share the same sense of attitude, urgency, and community.
Loneliness is not restricted to any socially constructed category; loneliness encapsulates the spirit, when an individual’s voice is disrespected, dismissed, or completely ignored, which is why questioning our own responses and interactions with others is of utmost importance. We are human; we are social animals, and we need each other. Furthermore, loneliness is not the lack of people in one’s surrounding environment, rather loneliness is imprisonment from speaking and living freely according to one’s true essence of self. Arguably, however, defining loneliness is also more complex, when ideas of spirituality and religiosity are introduced. Yet, a choice still exists. To express the self in its purest form without fear of rejection or to allow the self to die from stunted growth in order to join convention and illusory acceptance from others, who themselves deny the possibilities to living mindfully and authentically. Rather than shame, guilt, or deny another’s voice, embrace the positive possibilities that can result from either general engagement or constructive debate. Always practice kindness, since we are all too human and carry burdens with respect to loneliness at one time or another.