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  • Writer's picturePuneet Agrawal

Loneliness: Friend or Foe?

Updated: May 18, 2023

If we go back to caveman times, Loneliness serves an evolutionary and survival purpose. If one behaves in a way that would endanger the whole group, that person is shunned. That person then feels an intense pain of loneliness because survival alone is almost impossible. They then would be forced to correct their dangerous behavior and be welcomed back to the tribe.

But, fast forward thousands of years, and we end up in the modern world. Where physical survival is not our priority. Food, shelter, warmth, clothing, and physical safety are in abundance. That's the perk of governed civilizations. Yet, we still get shunned from groups or society due to differences of personality and behavior. When immediate physical survival is not in question, behaviors and personalities can be hugely diverse, which leads to much more ostracization. But, we still feel that intense pain of loneliness, not because of physical survival, but because of social survival.

That is where the trap begins.

We get trapped in this mindset that loneliness is a disease. A black hole of catastrophe. An infestation of misery. A foe. We get trapped in this mindset that loneliness is something to be eradicated. Something to be escaped. Something to be exterminated. Something to be banished.

We usually translate that to an immediate and paramount need for people. Any people. More frequently than not we change ourselves in all sorts of unhealthy manners. We form all sorts of unhelpful habits. We stunt our personal growth. Just to fit in somewhere. We end up letting people treat us however they see fit. We forget to preserve ourselves. We forget to love ourselves. Because, what's the alternative? That intense, soul-crushing darkness? To avoid the night we settle for an eternal twilight.

But there's another alternative. One that would bring about the day. One that helps us think of loneliness as an essential part of ourselves. Something to be explored. Something to be tamed, refined, and utilized. A friend.

That alternative is to draw our attention to ourselves. To understand that our physical survival isn't in question, even though our brain is adamant that that is so. To understand that only our social survival is in question. Which is a form of relative, perceptive, and subjective survival. In essence a form of pseudo-survival.

When we are able to do that, we become more attuned to ourselves. Almost suddenly, all the attention and affection we crave from others, we start giving to ourselves. We start to understand that our loneliness wasn't truly a lack of people, but a lack of emotional support and a need to be understood. Something that is unlikely, or at least very difficult, from others. Something that is much more likely from ourselves, because:

No one can know us the way we can know ourselves.

That is when we evade the trap. As if out of nowhere, we begin having conversations with ourselves. We begin exploring and understanding ourselves. We begin befriending ourselves. We begin loving ourselves. Our goals and dreams become more important than having other people around. Our own long-term needs begin taking priority over others short-term needs. Our own well-being and preservation becomes our priority.

And now, the right people find us. People who feel inspired by us. People who inspire us. People that help us grow. People, who are not afraid to know us deeply. People, we allow to know us deeply. Now, we do not crave for people. At least not desperately. We crave for deep and meaningful connections. Ones that we can almost effortlessly sustain, without jeopardizing our own wellbeing and happiness.

We finally begin to understand that:

Our loneliness doesn't need people, it needs us.



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