When you are alone it doesn’t necessarily follow that you feel lonely and if you feel lonely it isn’t always caused by being alone. Alone and lonely are often mutually exclusive. In fact, some of my loneliest moments have been spent in a room full of people. I have felt lonely when trying to communicate with someone and realizing they don’t relate to what I’m trying to express or they just don’t seem to “get” who I am. Perhaps the worst loneliness you can ever experience is when you’re with a person you love because in a close relationship you don’t expect to feel lonely so it catches you off guard. We expect to feel connected and loved and understood in a close relationship – we like to have that safe feeling of being with someone who knows us – and when that closeness isn’t there we can feel like we have been cut adrift but there is a lesson in that.
The lesson is that whether you are married or single, spend most of your time alone or are usually surrounded by family and friends we are all, in the final analysis, alone. A lot of people don’t like that idea because it feels too solitary. They don’t like to face the fact that we are all islands in the same sea. We can visit other islands but we can’t take up residence. Every one of us is all alone in our heads – a lot of our lives take place in our private thoughts – so it is essential to figure out how you want that internal environment to feel. How do you want to decorate your “home” – your inner dwelling place? Do you want your thoughts to create a warm, comforting place where you can always find love and acceptance? Sort of like a cozy room with a fireplace, an overstuffed armchair, a friendly dog or cat (or both) waiting for you … and how about a cup of cocoa and some warm cookies? Or would you prefer a cold concrete cell where you are punished with your thoughts of fear, insecurity and constant reminders of all your shortcomings, failures and disappointments?
Your actions, as well as your reactions, toward people and events all start in the inner room where your thoughts are created and, once again, I’ve been reminded of how powerful thoughts are. Recently I’ve been forced to clean my inner room because some negative thinking cluttered it and made it uncomfortable. I swept out the crumbs of self-doubt and fear, threw another log of gratitude onto the fire of my contentment, fluffed up the cushions on my armchair of love and acceptance, and lit the candle of hope. Instead of beating myself up for allowing negative thoughts to sneak in and accumulate I set myself to the task of cleaning house and accepting that this will be a task that will never end – just like cleaning the house in which my physical body dwells!
What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it – like a secret vice.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
See more of my artwork and books at www.LyndaLinke.com