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Loneliness and its gift

In the middle of the lockdowns, you might not have seen the positive side of isolating. Chances are that you felt lonely at times. What I and many others found though was that during the alone times and the loneliness, the painful feelings were the compost for significant change and renewal. Let’s take a look at loneliness.

It’s not something we like to talk about too much for fear that it might be contagious!

I know what loneliness feels like, we all do, it’s part of the human condition. It is an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy.

We are hard-wired for connection: social creatures that need social bonds in the same way that we need food and water. Loneliness is often a response to isolation, and this is not only physical isolation, we can feel emotionally and spiritually isolated.  We can feel disconnected in a crowd, at parties, and similarly with friends and family.

This dull, heavy, and hard to define feeling of loneliness is urging us to move and to connect, somewhere, somehow.

Lack of Connection

When we lack connection we feel alone, and this makes everything look bleak. Often, we can’t see any light up ahead and in these times it’s especially important to remember that everything  – you and the world – are constantly changing.

In my coaching work, I see how a small shift in perspective can change the inner dialogue so that people can take baby steps towards transformation.

Limiting beliefs invariably create and maintain separateness.  Examining and changing your beliefs enables you to integrate your intentions and actions, thereby allowing you to make conscious choices to connect with others and create spaces for new relationships. This is a central part of my coaching work.

It’s a Social Thing

Extended families and tribes as support structures are not available to everyone at all times. You are fortunate if you have a good family and supportive friends. Make the most of them, and be grateful.

Sometimes, despite having friends, we don’t have anyone to talk to about stuff that really matters to us – whether this is to discuss the meaning of life, share a love of films, or any number of weird and wonderful things. Consequently, we can feel alone and need to actively seek out others, especially if we live alone or are isolated.  You can create new possibilities in your life.

Chronic loneliness is bad for your health

It weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections. For this reason, make it a priority to connect now and use every means you can.

How to deal with loneliness

Firstly, distinguish between solitude and loneliness. Solitude can be something we actively seek; it nurtures us in a busy world. Loneliness is is the opposite – it a feeling we do not want.

Begin to build a network or scaffold of connections and relationships. Take small steps and keep at it. By taking consistent action we can build anything (Rome, Pyramids), including relationships.

Mind has good advice on coping with loneliness they link it to mental health and emphasise the cyclical nature of loneliness to our state of wellbeing.

Get some help if you need it; this demonstrates strength, not weakness. More and more communities are emerging online – seek them out and join. Reach out and you might be surprised at the consequences.

There are many organisations offering support if you need to talk – The Samaritans and MIND for example

Help others – through reaching out and thinking about others we can combat loneliness on many levels. Volunteering is a good way to start.


Thoughts on Solitude

“Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” Bell Hooks

 “Your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

“It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.” Marcus Aurelius

“I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing – not just a waiting.”  Susan Sontag

winter trees at dusk


While many poets savour the isolation needed to write, their words will ideally create connection.

Emily Dickinson said that loneliness was …

The Maker of the soul
Its Caverns and its Corridors
Illuminate—or seal-

This one by Carlos Williams Carlos makes me smile

Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen

are sleeping

and the sun is a flame-white disc

in silken mists

above shining trees,—

if I in my north room

dance naked, grotesquely

before my mirror

waving my shirt round my head

and singing softly to myself:

“I am lonely, lonely.

I was born to be lonely,

I am best so!”

If I admire my arms, my face,

my shoulders, flanks, buttocks

against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not

the happy genius of my household?

And finally – a favourite song by the Walker brothers

Loneliness is the cloak you wear
A deep shade of blue is always there

The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky
The tears are always clouding your eyes

When you’re without love, baby

Emptiness is the place you’re in
There’s nothing to lose but no more to win
The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore

The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore

Ah, but the sun does shine.

Go well and connect.