Handling Loneliness

Date: 14 September 2012

Noothan spoke about a 75 years old lady with four children. When she became alone, she was taken care of by her sons for nine years. Even after being in association with her son and family members, she felt quite lonely. She believed that her son was the reason for her loneliness and started writing that ‘her son should die’. She missed the company of her people with whom she could connect. She started feeling socially an outcaste.

Sudha said that with her son and daughter settled in their lives and having a very busy doctor-husband, she tends to feels lonely. To keep herself busy she makes a daily to-do list, reads books, makes calls, goes shopping, etc. She has involved herself so deeply in her present routine that at times she finds it uneasy if it gets disturbed due to other family/social obligations.

Malini said that she has been lonely since childhood but it was not loneliness, it was aloneness. She changed her mind-set and went along with life.

Surekha started with Ali’s statement ‘Loneliness is going to be the greatest epidemic of the future generations’. Human beings are social animals and need association. She complimented ‘Jaagruthi’ as a blessing in disguise that works as a mental nourishment tonic. She said that being alone without being lonely is solitude. Loneliness depletes but solitude replenishes.

The feeling of loneliness comes only when there is a vacuum within and when our emotional needs are not met.

The way to overcome loneliness is to identify a safe group of people who support your passion, and create a feeling of being wanted. Volunteering, joining meditation groups, reading, enjoying being with self and reconnecting with people are some of the ways to fight loneliness.

Ashwani was of the opinion that loneliness is a state of mind, it is more about perception. Lonely people crave for people’s company. Low self-esteem, loss of dear ones leads to isolation.

Loneliness can be felt at any stage of life. Even a child can feel lonely. Having a positive attitude, mingling with people, sharing of feelings and thoughts, having hobbies, reading, meditation and spirituality help in fighting the sense of loneliness.

lonely man
Image Credit: Andrei!, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Sachin said that in today’s materialistic world loneliness is experienced everywhere.

Dekhiye to lagta hai, kitni bhir haien duniya main,
Sochiye to lagta hai, bhir main haien sab Tanhan

(If you see the world, it is full of people but if you think everybody is lonely in this world)

Loneliness is about emptiness of feelings, emotions, purpose, meaning of existence, association. If we don’t learn to let go of past and live with it, a sense of loss creeps in resulting in a feeling of loneliness. Being able to associate with something worth that is engaging, interesting and enjoyable are the greatest strength one can have to fight loneliness. Surrendering to the services of the less fortunate exposes us to thier blessings and enhances our self-esteem that helps in dispelling the sense of loneliness. He was emphatic that gadgets and technology cannot dispel loneliness.

Preeti felt lonely even during her childhood. She felt not being understood by others. Though surrounded by people it was not easy to connect with the people at an emotional level and was not able to share her feelings. Working for being in peace with self has to be a personal effort and a way has to be identified to fight loneliness.

Nalini said that loving self is the best way to overcome loneliness. Connecting with self, being at peace with self, discovering the inner self and enjoying freedom of thought and action help a lot in facing loneliness.

Padmaja maintained that the change in social and family structures is the main cause of increase in the feeling of loneliness. Parents have invested a lot in their children and family without any expectations and have gone through a lot of pain but are pained for loneliness, they are facing. She felt that joining DPCS is helping her a lot to cope with her feelings.

Alpa shared her early days of being with joint family and was so busy that she never felt lonely. Coming to live alone in nuclear family made her feel lonely.

Later, she started looking for new avenues of engagement. She found that volunteering at Dignity Foundation and Kidwai Institute of Oncology gave her a chance to make a small change in the society and considers herself quite blessed.

Kuberappa feels that even children feel lonely. Though grown up in a joint family of 23 members, children will feel lonely when both parents are working. No outing and computer leave children alone.

Jyothi being the only daughter and both parents working, there was less restriction and was a pampered child. After marriage into a joint family thing were difficult to handle. Now, with two children having grownup, husband having travelling work did not affect her much as she is quite engaged in looking after the elderly parents and parent-in laws. She has no time to feel lonely.

Chaya had to go out of city for work and felt very lonely as she was without any of her close people.

Act, make friends
handling loneliness
Image Credit: Eric The Fish (2012), cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

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Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

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