Loneliness is a feeling not a fact
Marriage, in most of the countries, is regarded as the end goal for happy and satisfactory life. It is a relationship between a man and woman, and it normally has some sort of religious component. Marriage is regarded as \"sacred.” In India, marriage is treated as an essential part of life to lead a secure and satisfactory life.
I am the third of three sisters. My sisters are beautiful but I am not. Since they are both married my parents are putting a lot of pressure on me. Since all my friends are married I find myself in isolation; without a partner I am often alone and depressed by my current situation. Please show way?
- Rajitha, Gudur
“Someday, someone will walk in to your life and make you realise why it never worked out with someone else”.
Marriage, in most of the countries, is regarded as the end goal for happy and satisfactory life. It is a relationship between a man and woman, and it normally has some sort of religious component. Marriage is regarded as "sacred.” In India, marriage is treated as an essential part of life to lead a secure and satisfactory life. However, marriage is not an end goal of any person’s life. People don’t need a marriage certificate to be happy. It is always wrong that marriage is essential to be happy or to ease loneliness.
However, in our culture, being single is seen negatively. Being single makes one to feel isolated and lonely. This often leads to psychological issues like depression in many.
Why we start feeling isolated
When we start feeling isolated, we may have thoughts of not belonging or of feeling rejected by others. What we overlook, however, is that when we are alone, we are often in the company of our worst enemy- the one within ourselves. An isolated space is the perfect breeding ground for negative, self-critical thoughts. These thought patterns make up the “critical inner voice (CIV),” an internalised enemy that leads to self-destructive thought processes and behaviours. This inner critic feeds into our feelings of isolation, encouraging us to avoid others and remain in a lonely state.
What causes loneliness?
The main cause for the feeling of loneliness is the lack of intimate relationships. Though you know lots of people or have many friends but if your relationship with them is too superficial or if you never share your emotions with them then you will feel lonely.
Another strong cause for the feeling of loneliness despite being with other people is when you feel you are not welcomed.
Loneliness and depression
Loneliness can result in severe depression if no actions are taken to solve this problem. Treatments will never help in removing depression unless the person deals with the real root cause.
In this case, dealing with loneliness is the only way to get rid of the depression associated with it.
How to cope with feeling lonely
Feeling lonely can trigger the thoughts that we are unloved or unlikeable. These reflect a hostile and unfriendly point of view towards yourself. Treat these thoughts like they were coming from an external enemy, and do not tolerate them.
How the ‘critical inner voice’ leads us to feel lonely and isolated
When it comes to feelings of isolation, those thoughts can be especially complicated and a strategic enemy. Sometimes, it will lure us into being alone with comfort-seeming thoughts (“Just go home and spend some time by yourself. You enjoy being on your own.”). At other times, when we start feeling lonely, it will viciously attack saying, “No one wants you around. They don’t like you. Just stay away from everyone!” These cruel directives are not based on reality but on the agenda of a self-destructive point of view we’ve taken based on early life experiences. Think about how much of your negative feelings about yourself came from how you felt as a kid? Did you often feel isolated or rejected, unseen or misunderstood? Did you spend time on your own, feeling left out in your family or school?
Overcoming feelings of isolation
Acknowledge your feelings of loneliness and isolation without judgment, saying to yourself, “I feel isolated right now, so I am not going to give in to my critical inner voice.” Let your actions meet your words and don’t put yourself in an isolated situation. Go out in public. Our brains do not respond positively to seclusion. Place yourself in social settings and interactions, even if you are among strangers. If you feel shy in public, try going online. Interacting on the Internet may be a good first step in giving you the confidence to express yourself.
Here are some tips for recognising loneliness for what it is and dealing with it in the healthiest ways.
• Realise that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. When you are feeling lonely, it is because something has triggered a memory of that feeling, not because you are in fact, isolated and alone. The brain is designed to pay attention to pain and danger, and that includes painful scary feelings; therefore loneliness gets our attention. Being unmarried for long doesn’t mean that nobody is there for you or that you are unlovable.
• Spend time with family and friends. If you are feeling lonely, talk to your family and hang out with your friends.
• Don't think less of yourself. Being in a relationship does not make you a better and more successful person. It doesn't matter if you haven't met someone who is as crazy about you as you are with them yet; these things take time. Finding someone who you are 100% compatible with doesn't just happen out of the blue.
• Exercise. If you are lonely, take up a new sport or exercise. Running and swimming in particular are great sports to relieve stress and depression.
• Always look on the bright side of life! Be happy and content within yourself and NEVER EVER think that you are not worthy for marriage or that you are unattractive. Beauty lies in the beholder’s eyes.
• Know if you need to see a professional. Sometimes loneliness is a symptom of a greater problem. If you feel like the entire world just doesn't get you, you may benefit from seeing a psychologist.
• It is better to be alone and content than in an unhealthy relationship.
• Socialise with friends that are good for you, not someone who will bring you down.
• Love yourself! You need to be confident without someone to stabilise you!
• Be proud of who you are, because everyone is beautiful in their own special way.
• Accept yourself for who you are and know you are just as good without him.
Do not think you are not worthy of being in a marriage relationship. You just haven't met the right person yet.
(The writer is MA (Psy), M Phil (Rehab Psychology), Dip Pain Management & Palliative care Consultant Rehabilitation Psychologist MAA ENT Hospital, The Deccan Hospital.