Chapter 2 Fighting Loneliness

I recently thought about this as a friend of mine, Becky, texted me and told me about her feelings about being lonely.  I recalled one of my favorite rock groups, Boston, where the lead singer committed suicide.  He pointed to loneliness as the reason for his taking his own life.  Everyone knows people are social creatures, and a healthy amount of human interaction (healthy interaction) is necessary for mental health and happiness.

 

First off, you must realize that (without using a pun) that you are not alone in your loneliness.  Like anything else, like a pain in your neck, you have to learn how to combat loneliness.  I truly do not believe this is a “medical problem” in 99% of the cases.  The reaction in the mind is sincere.  The individual feels alone in the world.  I advise not seeking “professional counseling” at this point.  All the doctors will do is label you with “Major Depression” and start the poisons that will numb and dull your mind.

 

Second, write on a new Microsoft Word document just why you feel lonely.  You can start by outlining how you may have had a boyfriend or girlfriend leave your life.  Much of your existence was centered on being with this person and sharing life with this person, and now that they are out of the picture, you feel alone.  You may recognize that you are not going to your regular church anymore, and thus people are calling you less and less.  This can be fixed however, by joining a new church for example…

 

You may also feel lonely in a RELATIVE basis because the people you once considered friends are no longer your friends.  They may have stolen your boyfriend or stabbed you in the back.  Now, the loss of this friend may leave you feeling empty.

 

Things change.  And your relationships may change.  It makes sense to take an inventory of your life’s interactions with people, and detail who and the number of times you associate with someone.  There is nothing wrong with the fact that all your friendships will change and you will meet all new people.  Much of the loneliness people feel is because they are attached to old relationships that have outgrown its usefulness.  It is time to move on.

 

Next, on the same sheet of paper, write down interests and activities that you share with people.  Think about new experiences that you find emerging in your life but you have yet to share with others.  Much of this activity takes no money at all, and many take place everywhere, so there is little excuse.

 

Maybe doing yoga (many find friends in this area) in your city is a solution.  Thinking about the common interests with others that you would like to share will guide you towards people to be with.  This includes finding that significant other, which is key for many people in avoiding loneliness.

 

Make it your life mission to go out and associate with new people every day.  Again, embrace the fact that things change, so if you hold on tightly to old relationships that are over and done with, loneliness will creep up and bite you soundly.  You, deep inside, want the same relationships that are over and done with, but because of circumstances outside your control, they are basically over.  Being accepting of this is the beginning of your escape from loneliness.

 

Did you ever go on Craiglist and visit “The Community” section?  There are all sorts of “meet ups” there.  From artists to musicians, from book clubs to chess teams, they are all there for you to freely contact and make new associations.  Join a weekly book club in your area.  Join a new church.  Join more than one, if you need.  Religious organizations are a wonderful place to reach out and meet others that share your faith.

 

Visit also various sites on Volunteering.  It does not have to be a large portion of your week.  Just a few hours per week is enough.  Since there is no “payment”, any supervisors there will be very accepting of your work.  If you cancel or show up late or do “sub par” work, since you are not being paid, there is a certain sense of freedom.  Also, being part of a group that is about helping others will give you a inner lift, no matter the circumstances of your loneliness.

 

So to summarize, first we must figure out on paper the “why” you are lonely.  Then, we must find out the “what to do about it” regarding your loneliness.  99% of your feelings about loneliness is due to self imposed isolation or forced isolation.  Make a solution to get yourself out there with other people.  Unless you are in a maximum security prison in Joilet, IL for a horrible crime, you have the ability to reach out and meet new people.

 

You could also visit the website Meetup.com.  I read many of my friends find new friends there.  Also, you may consider finding a new very part time job.  Work is one of the main places people find new friends to talk to.  A new part time job can easily be found on Craiglist or Yahoo! Jobs or Monster.com.  Since it is so part time, it is easier to find and do that another full time job.

 

Pick a job that involves interacting with other coworkers, like in a mall, library, or school.  The main thing now is not to isolate yourself.  The feelings of loneliness are different for different people.  If you experience depression from loneliness, there may be an easy fix or a more difficult fix.

 

Just as a warning, during this vulnerable time, find a person you trust to help guide you through this time of loneliness.  Never ever sit alone in a crowded place.  It will only heighten your sense of being alone.  Do everything you can to prevent yourself being isolated.  Loneliness BREEDS more loneliness.  Unless you are among the few who desires a solitary life, don’t remain away from others.  Just even people watching in a park or even the airport will help stem away feelings of loneliness.  I recall a good friend of mine Al who would go to the airport just to see other people greeting others at the baggage claim area.  Seeing all of the love and being around so many people always seemed to make his loneliness disappear.

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About youngkim3000

I grew up in Virginia and went to a top tier high school, being so ambitious and wanting fame and fortune like the next kid. I received good grades and then I went off to the University of Chicago where I majored in Psychology and Economics. After a brief but successful "Wall Street" career, I realized that I was not happy and left thinking that a career in the medical field would satisfy me. Then, I did some post Bac work at Northwestern and UIC, and then ended up at UIC Medical School. The problem was I was not happy there either. The structure, the repetition, and lack of being able to be free and spontaneously creative really knocked me down. Having to be subject to constant subjective evaluations sucked my soul dry. As I sought another chapter in my life, then came the financial collapse of 2008-9 which destroyed the "nest egg" and saving that I had worked so hard to build after college--which I so "identified with". I was so depressed at the loss of career and the loss of money that I fell into self pity and a deep seated depression. For weeks on end, I could not even get out of bed. I went to many doctors who could not really help me. I took so much anti-depressant medication and also self medicated with alcohol to dull my mind. One day though, I went to the public library in Niles, IL, and picked up some books on "Self-Help". I figured what do I have to lose? I was already so depressed I could barely get through a day. I picked up books by Wayne Dyer (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), Deepak Chopra, Louis Hay, Ram Dass, Osho, and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), The Dalai Lama, and revisited my faith in Catholicism. I devoured so many books to unearth just why I was suffering so much. I learned so much about myself and realized that my deep suffering was actually a gift for me to discover myself. Simply put, those words in those books saved my life. I was taking so many drugs and my physical health was in serious jeopardy. I realized that I could not live with myself any longer, and I needed to be free. I realized...that it was my own thoughts that were making me so depressed, as was my own "life story" that I replayed over and over. I realized that my mind was busy creating negative thoughts. Thoughts are "things" and expand. I understood that you do not "normally" choose your thoughts. Just like the digestion of a meal, the mind automatically creates all kinds of thoughts whether you like it or not. Just like you do not "choose" to breathe with your lungs or "choose" to make urine from your kidneys, you "normally" do not "choose" your own thoughts. They just happen, just like digestion. And if you had a bad experience, your mind recreates the negative thoughts without your conscious consent but you are forced to relive them endless times per day. It is only through CONSCIOUS INTERVENTION that you can make your mind change course from recycling negative thoughts. This is just like your breathing. You breathe automatically, but you CAN choose to influence your breathing, you can hold your breath if you are going to dive deep in the water, or you can consciously "slow down" your breath if you are relaxing in meditation and prayer. Once I realized I did in fact have an ability to control my thoughts, I consciously redirected the thoughts to positive uplifting notions. I noted that I had built such a large ego that the collapse of it dragged me down in catastrophic fashion. A big ego is different from self esteem. Both were destroyed, but I learned to regain self esteem through positive affirmations and knowing that the negative thoughts are not reality. I was choosing definitively to live in the past via my repetitive thoughts. I was also choosing to live in an uncertain future that I painted with dreadful possibilities. I realized that if I live in the "now", the present moment, I really did not have any reason to be depressed at all. I discovered I really only live in the "now". The past and future are fictions. It is akin to a motorboat on the water on a lake. The "wake" that the boat produces is the past, my vision of the future is what I can see in front of me, but I really only exist ON the boat in the present moment. I was living my life only on the "wake" created many meters before. Soon, my self-pity slowly subsided as I learned to accept "what is" and not grasp for anything and everything that is valued by Society. I concurred that it was my own "expectations" not realized that were causing such waves of discontent. Once I dropped my self imposed sad "life story", my yesterdays, I came to my senses that there was no need to feel upset at all. That realization hit me like "a ton of bricks" and quickly lifted me out of the well, like a rope thrown down the dark walls of the deep well. I would like to share that it was only that single moment of enlightenment, a "satori" event that forever changed my life, but that was not so. It was a gradual climb out of the abyss (over about a year). I realized that my mind was like a superhighway of blazing thoughts that went through my mind over and over based on the recent past. While my "life story" was going great, I believed in those thoughts, and my ego grew such that I became arrogant and sometimes unkind. Then when my "life story" changed for the worse, I similarly believed in those new negative thoughts with the same passion (which hurt me so deeply throughout my waking hours). I noted to myself that this was why I craved so many "tranquilizers" and medicines that would halt my thoughts. I realized that I was drowning in my negative thoughts and that I was CHOOSING to believe in them. But I learned through focusing on positive affirmations, meditation and prayer, I did not need any more drugs to "halt" my mind from stabbing me to death. Through the filter of society's measure I had evaluated my own life, unable to fully realize that it was all a fiction that my mind had created. I was completely unable to live in the present before this profound awakening. My life had turned into a constant "replay" of the past, the anxiety of the uncertain future...and my destroyed ego. Because of my belief that my thoughts were the ultimate truth, I suffered so deeply... but needlessly. Once I changed the direction of my thoughts, everything changed. The way I looked at my own life changed. I realized that LIFE is not a long emergency where the one with the most toys at the end wins. I realized LIFE is something to be lived fully, and joyfully...not some series of problems to be solved. Once I realized these insights, I realized that I was the creation of my own depression. Although a devout Catholic, I am also deeply moved by the ideals of Buddhism. About Karma and "Dependent Arising"...both of which are also in the Bible (Galations 6, Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, a person always reaps what they sow). And I was...for the better part of my life, a runaway train into disaster that I was blind to...that I had planted the seeds onto. Putting money, fame, accolades, trophies, and so forth as the ultimate end to my goals sowed the seeds of psychological calamity when the inevitable tides of change occurs in every life. A person who extols those superficial qualities dooms himself/herself to disaster. The only variable is "time". Would it take a long time to find yourself in a train wreck or a short time? It doesn't matter. What matters is how soon can you realize the truth of existence and your place in it...and rise above what Society tries to focus you to believe. Society always makes you compare yourself to others, Society never leaves you alone to just be yourself. You have to exert effort and unlearn what Society has poisoned you with. I am now doing various "work" (not holding down any soul sucking corporate job), teaching, making money through various income sources like buying items at rummage sales and reselling them through Craigslist, asking neighbors and doing work they need, trading stock options when my financial tools indicate that there is a good trade. I am not focused on any "ladder to climb" or any "prestigious career"...and I am so much happier and at peace. I'd rather be "waterboarded" that go back to Corporate America. I have also a solid equanimity, and i am OK with whatever happens, and thus accept what God and the Universe wish for me. I wish to share my newly found wisdom and hope that my story and my interpretation of my newly found contentment can benefit others and I also wish to hear similar stories of awakening. God Bless, thanks for reading my "profile" and leave me your stories of awakening. Outside somewhere is a field where all of us are the same, I cannot wait to see you there...Namaste...
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One Response to Chapter 2 Fighting Loneliness

  1. Becky says:

    “you are not alone in your loneliness.” great post. i love that line.

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