Monday, April 21, 2008


Feeling lonely at times is very human. There are different kinds of loneliness: feeling as though you don't have enough (or any) friends; feeling unseen or unknown by those you know; difficulty feeling good when alone or making use of one's time. Sometimes we suffer because of a false belief about ourselves: "If I am alone, then something must be wrong with me. Perhaps I am unlovable." This feeling may be a symptom of insufficient self love. On the other hand, growing up in a society that promotes a dependence upon, or even an addiction to external things for a sense of well being - food, clothes, drugs, other people - leaves many of us floundering when left all to ourselves. Some of us may have internalized the false view that to be happy is to be surrounded by others at all times, regardless of how we may feel in their company.

And yet, if we can learn to be truly intimate with ourselves, then we are never alone. This sort of intimacy, however, is not always easy to come by. It may take facing the wounded, deficient parts of ourselves, as well as the wonderful, abundant parts. In many families such parts were rejected and denied, and therefore went underground, perhaps festering into a low-grade depression. Therapy frequently involves facing and integrating these rejected parts and experiences. These neglected parts of ourselves often carry a heavy burden of shame. Shame too can isolate us from others, contributing to our loneliness. Group therapy and other mutually accepting relationships can offer an antidote to shame, as we explore our common vulnerability and see that our deepest secrets are not the terrible beasts we imagined.