A brief glance at philosophical views and psychological and sociological research would suggest that loneliness and the study thereof have become more prevalent over the years.
Our world’s social fabric would appear to have become increasingly torn and fragmented over time. Perhaps, in context of accumulative, intricate social interrelated factors such as, rapid urbanization/population growth and expansion, ceaseless changes and transitions in our lives, arduous transportation necessary or reduced mobility, technological factors (including AI replacement of human contact); solitary residence, conflicting employment schedules, financial struggles, political polarization, marginalization, social isolation, stress and mental and physical health challenges.
Interestingly enough, our technology has advanced to the extent of having the ability to connect with others across the globe. Yet, somehow, more often than not, I continue to hear many express feeling lonelier and ever so more socially disconnected today than earlier times in their lives.
In late backyard patio conversations with colleagues and friends, discussion has ignited as to how it would appear that interpersonal trust has been on the decline and language itself has become politicized to the extent that authentic keen interpersonal inquisitiveness has been replaced by apprehension. People have seemingly become cautious and sometimes even afraid of speaking artlessly, owing to haunting concern of unintentionally offending another. It would appear that language has, at times, become a vigilance of threat, throwing intrinsic desire to share, understand and connect into the landfill of silence, disconnect and loneliness. Of importance to note as well is that we are living at a time in history whereby exceeding emphasis has seemingly been placed on individual uniqueness. Despite the immense significance of each of our unique individuality (in its multifarious identities, forms, meanings and expression thereof), I take the position that it is just as imperative and fundamental to not dismiss but rather to share and acknowledge our commonalities as well, as together - uniqueness and commonalities - determine the strength of inclusiveness and thus our social fabric.
Although I maintain that there is a deeper political power and empowerment behind the politicalizing of language and individuality, at the same time, I find its complicated imbalance at times has set us apart, perhaps leaving each of us to drown in sorrow in the sea of deeper meaninglessness.
French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre posited that loneliness is fundamental to our human condition, effect of the perplexity amongst our consciousness’ desire for meaning in life and the universe’s unassuming isolation and nothingness. Psychology and sociology similarly define loneliness as a kind of suffering that arises from not experiencing sought for social connection. In other words, simply being in the presence of others does not preclude loneliness and loneliness is not to be mistaken for content and happiness in independence and solitude. Nonetheless, unquestionably, loneliness is a perception, a subjective experience, founded on our not perceiving/experiencing meaningful understanding and connection with another in context of our worldview, values, interests, needs and desires at any given time and, definitely, loneliness may exist in diverse types of relations (i.e., family, friendship, romantic partner, community).
Ironically, ample research suggests that our sense of safety/security, our mental and physical health and the overall quality of our lives is contingent on the quality of our interpersonal interactions/relations - research proposes numerous mental and physical health benefits of healthy and meaningful relations. Is the increasing loneliness and its detrimental and profound lingering effects and suffering perhaps reflective, at least partly, of evolving imbalance between self and social orientation and preservation in our current nature of existence…and perhaps our next health related epidemic? Close and meaningful relations of any kind are a magnificent privilege and not to be taken for granted. Our beloved and trusted companions, accompany us in our laughter, trials and tribulations through our more or less journey within, at times, absurd existence.
They grant us unconditional compassion, acceptance and security and support the authentic flow of our diversified presentation and narrative at any given time and our ensuing candid vulnerability. They uphold a foundation of unquestionable esteem and of meaningful connection permitting one another to share in our deepest joys, profound dilemmas and yearning hopes. Our close relations, built from joint commitment, effort and investment, offer understanding, validation, sense of importance/value and belonging and a kind of honor for one another in context of our uniqueness and commonalities, without concern of judgment or criticism. This intentional and rather spiritual flow of being with and in the presence of one another, of sharing and of becoming not only stands apart from the fleeting shallow social interactions that surround our current existence but permits us to reflect inward to experience clarity and understanding of our authentic selves - about who we are and what gives us meaning and purpose - and outward to learn about one another, allowing us to transform individually and mutually and thus to experience authentic connection.
These relations, not only permit us to quiet the profound pain and suffering of loneliness that lingers in the ebbs and flows of our human condition but support us to cultivate a restorative healing.
When was the last time that you and other(s) you hold dear in your heart ventured into a deep, impassioned and connecting discussion, whether in the privacy of your cozy candle lit living room or in the multi floral ambiance of your back yard, while having dinner at your favorite restaurant or when walking together in the serene and multisensory paths of nature? A time whereby the two of you (or more) shared one another’s current/historical experiences, worldview, beliefs, values and needs or engaged in heated discussion regarding any of current cultural, political and/or social matters? Alternatively, a time when one of you shared the depths of a struggle and permitted tears to flow while in the warmth and comfort of the arms of a beloved or perhaps discussed the gratitude for and the threads that continue to be weaved in and to strengthen the fabric of your relationship? Close relations permit intentional, continual growth in our relations and in ourselves. Involve full presence, engagement in the practice of mindful awareness in our being and becoming with one another. We have the freedom and will if we choose, to seek and create meaningful connection and experience.
Revekka Kakoullis M.Sc., Registered Psychologist Resilience Awakening, Revekka Kakoullis E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://resilienceawakening.ca