David stood on the busy street corner with a city map in hand, checking his directions. As he waited for the traffic light to change, he felt a deep sense of loneliness and isolation. David liked his new job; he liked his new surroundings. But there in the early afternoon sunlight, he felt a deep vacuum of loneliness.
Doris closed the book in here lap, unable to concentrate. Glancing at her husband's photograph on the coffee table, she felt awash with loneliness. She had buried Phil over four years ago, but she still felt the painful loneliness that his absence brought.
As Nancy pushed her grocery cart down the frozen-food aisle, she shivered. It was always chilly in this part of the store, but this cold was sharp, penetrating, gnawing. Tears welled up in here eyes as she looked around at the other shoppers and felt totally alone in a world full of people.
The experience of loneliness is not uncommon. In fact, it's a natural part of being human. Because each of us is unique, no one can fully and completely understand us, and this can generate a sense of loneliness. Although our most intimate relationships are with people who respect, even understand and share, our joys and sorrows, fears and dreams, ultimately we are separate from all other people. Loneliness visits all of us, regardless of race, social status, education, age, or lifestyle.
Loneliness is not a problem to be solved; rather, it's a condition of life that varies from person to person, depending on situations and life circumstances. When loneliness becomes chronic or specially painful - when it begins to erode our quality of life, robbing us of mental, spiritual, and physical well-being - we also come face-to-face with opportunities and possibilities.
Embrace the opportunity that loneliness offers. When you become aware of a sense of loneliness there is no need to panic. Welcome loneliness as an opportunity to explore and better understand yourself. spend some time looking at your hopes and dreams and naming some of your fears. Pay attention to what brings you joy. Ask a trusted confidant, friend, spiritual director, or counselor to listen to your own self-inventory and to comment on what they hear you saying. YOu're not trying to "fix" anything. Rather, you're engaging in a simple exercise in self-understanding - for the sake of a healthier sense of well-being.
Excerpt from "Comforting Thoughts When Life Feels All Too Lonely" by Kass Dotterweich. A publication from CareNotes www.carenotes.com