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Are We Lonely?

In this series of learning about the importance of feeling our emotions, I have spoken about how the ‘Feeling Function’ is often misunderstood, its value lost.

The Feeling Function is one of life’s greatest teachers.

Engaging and developing the feeling function to get to know our issues is a life-skill that I wish was taught in schools. We all have issues. We all act and react out of issues. Most of the time, we do not know what our issues are. Neither do we realise how much damage our unconscious issues can do when projected onto situations, our children or our relationships. We even bring our issues into the work-place.

When consciously related to, our issues can stimulate personal development, inspire us to find creative solutions and generally, be the stuff that makes us wise, kind, generous, compassionate and sensitive to the plights of those less fortunate than ourselves. Or our issues can make us mean-spirited, fearful, angry, jealous, suspicious and up-tight. I could go on. The list is endless.

Take loneliness, for example. Do we have a loneliness issue? Do we realise how a deep-seated fear of loneliness might affect most of the ways in which we react to the world about us? The fear of loneliness may colour many of our life-decisions. It might affect the way in which we enter into relationships with others. It might affect whether we stay in a relationship which, we might otherwise leave if we weren’t so dependent, needy and desperate. To a degree, fear of being alone is present in all of us. But what if loneliness plays its part within our unconscious and is actually the cause of itself? Loneliness causes loneliness.

Eleanor Rigby music video. from milkandblue on Vimeo.

A Loneliness issue may have been born in childhood. Fear of abandonment partners loneliness in a dance of inner need. The one is companion to the other. Not great companions, as both push the outer world away. In the end, all they have is each other. Fear feeds on fear. Fear is not creative, but self-defeating. Fear of abandonment does not allow intimacy…for fear of…just in case of…you will get close and find me wanting.., so “**** OFF,” in advance…just in case.

So how do we manage an issue such as loneliness? How do we work with a fear of loneliness so as to keep it in perspective? How do we prevent issues such as loneliness from ruining our lives?

I am not talking of loss and subsequent loneliness. I am talking about issues and how we do, at least, have some power, some choice as  to how we manage them.

We manage them by befriending them, getting to know them consciously. We learn how to indwellthem so that they lose their power over us. They never go away. Issues are life-companions. But, at least, we can be in the driving seat rather than being driven unconsciously into a never ending cycle of action and reaction, emotional misinterpretation and assumption.

Art by Maria Antonietta Terrana

Now wouldn’t that be something worth learning? Wouldn’t that be a skill to pass on to our children?

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About niamh clune

DR. NIAMH CLUNE is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom, hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE http://www.dr-nanaplum-amazingbooksforchildren.com/. Niamh’s Amazon page is http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004VRSQ1I

26 comments on “Are We Lonely?

  1. mapelba
    October 21, 2012

    I never feel lonely when I’m creating something.

    People often say to me that I must have been lonely as a child because I’m an only child. But I’ve never seen evidence that siblings prevent loneliness. It’s as if people confuse aloneness with loneliness. Aloneness I often appreciate.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 21, 2012

      I agree…aloneness is such a different experience to loneliness…one of intensity that I welcome.

      Like

  2. marthamoravec
    October 21, 2012

    Wise words. I know from experience. One of the things I’ve always been proud of is my ability to be alone – although I often went to extremes and retreated from the world when I should not have.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      Yes! There is a big difference between being alone and that wonderful sense of self-companionship that comes with it. I love that feeling. It is so creative. Loneliness, however, can become a disease.

      Like

  3. the secret keeper
    October 21, 2012

    I am trying to examine whether I feel loneliness. When I am being creative I become so filled with what I am doing that nothing else seems to enter my mind but the project I am working on. It affects me so much that I do not even remember to eat or go to bed to sleep. When I was a little kid I had a great imagination and could entertain myself with the most unusual things. I was a daydreamer and drifted off into other worlds while the world was doing their boring things. When I was in High School I was always involved in everything from sports to theatre to music and wrote everything from short stories to poetry and screenplays. I never felt lonely. I felt left out of other people’s lives because I wasn’t really allowed to have friends so I would absorb myself with other things. I enjoyed the company of animals and ran away a lot. I had a special friend I use to run off with which was forbidden by both our parents but they couldn’t stop us from going off together. I was never a real people person. My music teacher in High School once said that if you are intelligent there is no excuse for you to be bored. I believe she is right and if anything there has never been enough time in my life to be bored. I know I am trying to correlate boredom with loneliness. Don’t you have to have time to be lonely? I do have issues with abandonment and separation anxiety. That is a problem for me but I don’t think it is related to loneliness. My partner goes to bed early. She is a day person. I am a night person. And somewhere we meet in the middle. At first when she goes off to bed I sometimes feel a twinge of anxiety which comes from my separation anxiety but then I adjust and welcome the time alone so that I can have the freedom to do whatever I want, which is usually writing or creating something while I listen to music. I, also, spend time connecting in some way with other people in multiple ways. There never is enough time to do all the things I want to do. I am not trying to fill time. There really is not enough time. I have people in my life who are special to me and I like to keep in touch with them on a regular basis. I do have an issue with abandonment and that can get tricky with how my mind processes my reaction to that but I still don’t feel that has to do with loneliness. I know I don’t like it when I get that occasional feeling of being totally alone in the universe but that goes back to my issues with separation anxiety. I like aloneness but I don’t like being alone when I don’t want to be but there are always books to read or films I want to see and tv shows on the dvr that I find I never have time to catch up on watching them. So what am I missing or not understanding. I think I am debating in my mind what to me is loneliness and whether I really experience that feeling. I do write about my feelings all of the time but the feeling of loneliness has never been something that I have really written about. So maybe I just don’t understand what it is or that I do not feel it because I feel so filled with so many other feelings and thoughts and experiences that I don’t have time to feel lonely. I may be wrong but think my issues lie in plenty of other areas that for once maybe loneliness is not one of my issues or I am just trying to rationalize away a feeling that I do not want to accept as something that somewhere inside me it lives. I will add one other thought and that is I miss certain people when we are not able to find time to communicate but I don’t think that has anything to do with loneliness either but instead it is just missing someone I want to be connected to. So I don’t feel that is loneliness either. So what in the debate in my head am I missing that I do not see loneliness as something that affects me? Am I wrong or could it be that this is one thing that is actually not wrong with me?

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      I would define Aloneness as a state on inner being, pregnant with possibility and filled with your own companionship. Loneliness, on the other hand, can become a disease. It can and does affect emotional health. This is when being alone, or pone’s sense of alienation from the world, actually sets us apart from others and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We react from fear of being alone. It is a complex subject. I would have to write a whole new blog defining the differences between a healthy state of being alone and an unhealthy state of isolation and sadness of ten leading to despair. All I have tried to do with this post is to state that if we have an issue, we need to know it, befriend it, so that it does not take over our lives and make us act and react in ways that are destructive.

      Like

  4. the secret keeper
    October 22, 2012

    Reblogged this on the secret keeper and commented:
    To feel loneliness: wouldn’t we want to have our children taught about how to understand and learn how to work with their feelings, their issues. Emotional Fitness (TM) learning what emotions are and how to express them. In this part of the series the discussion is on Loneliness. “Are We Lonely?” A good question to ask and a difficult question to answer. We all have issues in our lives to understand and work on. Is loneliness one of yours or ours. I know I want to understand and be able to recognize my emotions and the issues that were created from the time I was born and how I am expressing them now in my life and how they have affected me. Once again this is a brilliant post. Are We Lonely? Are you lonely? Am I lonely. Do we really know the answer to this question? Don’t we want to know? Read the post written by Dr. Niamh Clune on her blog “ontheplumtree.” J.K. the secret keeper

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      Thank You for reblogging this, Jennifer. I have left you a reply to your comment.

      Like

  5. laurenc129
    October 22, 2012

    This is a great post. Learning how to be alone without being lonely is a hard thing to do sometimes. You are right, loneliness causes loneliness. It’s hard to get around it. We have to choose not to be it. … And I love Eleanor Rigby. It was one of the first Beatles songs I learned, actually.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      I also love Eleanor Rigby. Aloneness is a state of inner being that fills us with our own companionship. Loneliness can generate issues. Loneliness in itself that happens because of the loss of a loved one, is not an issue. But when our being alone becomes a source of stress and sadness, it can become an issue and can lead to emotional illness.

      Like

  6. patientdreamer
    October 22, 2012

    Wow! interesting post. Big difference between loneliness and alone, BIG difference.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      Yes! You are right! Aloneness is an inner state of being in which we are filled with our own companionship. Loneliness has been defined as an illness. It can create all kinds of related issues, and certainly contributes to deep states of depression. And if we do not know it, inside out, can ruin lives.

      Like

  7. Pingback: Loneliness? | the secret keeper

  8. thiskidreviewsbooks
    October 22, 2012

    Great post. I like the hand painting. :)

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      So do I like the hand painting, Erik. It is one of the illustrations form the children’s book: George and the Frog, that I will be releasing shortly.

      Like

  9. Margo van der Voort
    October 22, 2012

    A very important subject as the loneliness I’ve felt while being abused has acted out in my adult life as well. Aloneness I treasure but loneliness is a feeling state I don’t treasure. Fear of abandonment is also a well known theme in my life. I have abandoned others too, often to avoid being abandoned myself. Getting to know my feelings and expressing them has been a life long journey. And finding safe people and places to be able to just feel and be with my emotions has brought me to some interesting places and groups of people who have given me protection and permission to go deep into this. For a long time I was in denial about loneliness, took the word out of my dictionairy but recently I have come to an understanding that I am at risk of being lonely and vulnerable. It’s a life issue that I often ‘sit with’ and ‘breath into’ and become conscious of to then connect with others on a similar journey who I can share the loneliness with.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      Then you know how to manage your emotional responses, Margo. Loneliness and other related issues never leave us and can be life teachers when worked with consciously. These issues can direct us along paths we would not, otherwise, choose but such paths are strewn with rich learning experiences.

      Like

  10. sriramjanak
    October 23, 2012

    beautiful…I prefer to be alone….but you are so right when you say “issues are life companions..”..it is always better to know them and be in control…

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 23, 2012

      I love aloneness, also…it is a rich place, pregnant with possibility. Loneliness, however, is a deeply emotional state of being that we must befriend and get to know, so that it does not wreck lives.

      Like

  11. songtothesirens
    October 23, 2012

    I, too, have examined whether I am lonely or simply alone. I very much value my time alone, especially when writing. I can write for hours and not feel a single twinge of loneliness. However, when my husband goes out to run his errands he can take hours. I know that he will eventually be home, but he loses track of time, and tends to be out for 5 or 6 hours. If I am not engaged in some project like writing something or reading or painting, I start to feel anxious about being by myself. Like last night, I was so into what I was doing that I did not realize that he had been gone for several hours. I was surprised when he came home. I do not always feel that way, though. I have this internal battle that pits need for companionship against my need for aloneness (I do not think that is a word). I actually posted on this subject the other day; about whether it is possible to be lonely even though you are around people. I came to the conclusion that it is completely possible. Although I do value my time alone, as well.

    Like

  12. cherduncombe
    October 25, 2012

    “So how do we manage an issue such as loneliness? How do we work with a fear of loneliness so as to keep it in perspective? How do we prevent issues such as loneliness from ruining our lives?”~~poignant and profound questions, Niamh.

    Loneliness does become a life-companion, often subliminally but sometimes reinforced by life circumstances. Just when I think I have conquered it, something happens, something small or huge, and I retreat once again into that void where I may be lonely but safe. It is such a conundrum. Once you lose the fear of it, you are almost doomed to defeat in relationships. I certainly don’t have the answers but I’m really soaking in your responses. This is a hidden affliction, and so important that you have addressed it.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 25, 2012

      In this series, these are the questions that I hope to answer, Cher. Loneliness is, actually, considered to be a disease. I believe it is. I believe it becomes one, a self-fulfilling prophecy. I will write more about it in the next blog. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

  13. Juliette
    October 27, 2012

    Good post and important. It starts so often as a child – being excluded. Teach your children (and grown ups) to include the shy ones, the odd ones and sometimes even the odd ones and different ones. Good post and an issue that is difficult for a lot of people, in our busy lives, to deal with. We forget that being lonely isn’t like a cold – we can’t catch it from a lonely person.

    Like

  14. baubo60
    November 2, 2012

    Just to add a few more thoughts to the issue of loneliness. In my experience loneliness is also abandonment of self. It’s not just social isolation and the lack of friends but also the lack of friendship with myself. It usually happens when I feel self critical and think I’ve failed someone or something. That creates loneliness I feel. This can also be the effect of a loved one being critical, or jalous or controlling. A partner who restricts and sucks life out of you. That is lonely! So you’re right saying loneliness creates loneliness until we take control and make changes in the situation. Walk away from bullies and controlling others. Take power and seek safe places to reconnect with self and have the company of me again without interference.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      November 2, 2012

      Thank You for your comments Baubo! Very important. When we abandon ourselves, we do feel lonely as we are lost. Believing in our own feelings and strength fills us with hope. Hope is a gentle companion. Thank you for your comments.

      Like

    • ontheplumtree
      November 2, 2012

      P.s. I have tried to follow your blog, but when I click on the hovercard, it is not live and does not take me there.

      Like

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