What exactly is loneliness?
Is it being alone? Do you experience it only when you are by yourself? Is it possible to experience loneliness even when with other people? Is it possible to be at a party, at a gathering and still feel lonely?
Loneliness is an emotion that is unique to each individual and plays out in different ways.
I remember when I was as far away from home as I had ever been, away from familiar faces, smells, people and a culture so removed from my own, there was a period where I would often binge watch TV or shopped till I dropped because otherwise I felt terribly alone and it was quite gut wrenching. Yet, very strangely, when I was amongst friends, chatting and laughing, this feeling would still lurk in the background sometimes.
I didn’t really know what to do when this feeling would appear, and so I would pretend to be busy, I would run from one activity to another, one person to another, one place to another.
Only much later did I figure out that it was all happening in my own mind!
The mysterious mind …
Our mind is like the processing unit. It takes in all information, mixes it up with what is already there from our past and creates a story. Now, as long as we are not aware of what is happening in the processing unit, we will only be acting out what the mind wants of us.
You have probably heard the quote – ‘If you don’t mind your mind, the mind will mind you’!
The story of our experience is being woven in our mind all the time, whether we know it or not. The mind is the writer, director and we invariably end up getting the lead role. “ I ” was the story my mind was creating and I realised that I have the ability to be the director of my own mind.
” We experience what we experience because of
what is happening inside our head “
GET CREATIVE WITH LONELINESS
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old,
but in building the new” – Socrates
1. What do you want to feel instead?
This simple and yet impactful question left me thinking! I knew I didn’t want to feel lonely, but what did I want to feel instead?
The brain moves in directions. So when there is no goal to move toward, it just drifts to what it already knows.
Give yourself the freedom to dream of how you want your life to be, what you want to feel and experience and go extravagant in creating this picture . Give it a useful direction.
Do you want to feel happy, excited, adventurous, free? Whatever it is you want, feed that goal to your mind. Make it rich and colourful in a way that it inspires you.
2. Build the stack up
Now that you know what you want, think of the times when you have experienced these emotions. Write down/ draw/paint at least 3 memories. Each time you think of it, relive it, like it is happening right now, experience it through your own body. The brain does not know the difference between real and imaginary and we can create our own experiences without having to wait for something to happen in the future. We have the ability to feel what we want to feel right now!
3. Movie Music:
Watch a movie of the problem, watch yourself in it feeling what you are feeling.
Now, select a theme music – Select some music that mismatches the experience, something like Pink Panther or the chorus from Händel Messiah’s Hallelujah or Shahrukh Khan’s Chamak Challo.
Now repeat movie – Now watch that movie again of you with the soundtrack and check your experience..
4. Get curious, creative and redecorate
Of course you can redecorate your environment with colors and smells that leave you feeling good. This is a great way to feel good. Did you know that you can redecorate your own mind ?
Get curious with loneliness. Where in your body do you feel it? What does it look like? Maybe draw it or scribble it out .
Feelings have colors, shapes, sounds etc. Have you heard the quote “I am feeling blue”? So what color is your feeling? Is it moving or is it still? What shape is it? What size is it? Is it heavy or lite? Change aspects of it and see what happens.
Play with it!
Give loneliness a character. Remember the movie Castaway? Maybe even have a chat with the character, give it a name , crack a joke with it. Humour is a very powerful way to dissociate from any unpleasant experience.
These are some tools that have helped me. The changes may not be generative but it is likely to move you in a direction where you might find yourself being more resourceful to explore loneliness and more. I hope you find these useful.