Loneliness and Embracing the Space | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

Loneliness and Embracing the Space

Like most people, I have moments of loneliness.  They tend to begin with thoughts about how I wish I had more people around me, everyone else is probably having fun and I’m not, blah blah, et cetera, ad nauseam.

If I look more closely at my loneliness, I usually notice that, underneath all the thinking, there’s a sense of emptiness in my body.

For me, the feeling of emptiness I call loneliness shows up in my pelvis and groin area.  It’s as if there’s nothing connecting my lower back to my legs, and I might be in danger of spontaneously splitting in half.  (Not to mention all the other implications of having no groin.)

Can’t Fight This Feeling

I used to assume, when I felt this sensation, that I had to “do something about it.”  I needed to call my friends, go hang out in a public place, or something along those lines, to make my loneliness go away, and “make myself feel better.”

I eventually realized, though, that my efforts to fight off loneliness didn’t usually succeed.  This is because the things I do aren’t fun when I do them from a place of wanting to avoid feeling alone.

If I call you on the phone, hoping you’ll make me feel better, the conversation will probably have a desperate, forced quality for both of us, even if that quality only shows up in subtle, unnerving ways.  Many people stay in relationships that have that quality for years, and wonder why they never feel fulfilled.

Exploring the Emptiness

What I’ve learned is that, when I feel that empty sensation, the best approach is to put my attention on the emptiness — to get a sense of how big the space feels, the shape of the empty area, whether it has a color, and so on.  I explore the space, rather than trying to fill it up or block it out.

When I come to that vacant feeling with curiosity, the vacancy starts to seem fascinating, rather than threatening.  And here’s the best part — the same wonder I bring to that empty feeling starts to spill over into the rest of my life.

When I’m in that curious place, I find myself wanting to be with people — not from a place of trying to relieve my loneliness, but to explore what it’s like to relate with others.  I actually want to know you, rather than to use you to make me feel better.

Maybe Life Is About Embracing Space

The more exploring I do, the more I’m starting to suspect that this isn’t just true for loneliness — it’s true for all of the emotions we tend to label as “negative” or “bad.”  Anger, sadness, frustration, and so on all seem to be tied to a feeling of inner spaciousness.

Anger, for instance, tends to come up when we think a weak (empty) part of us has been exposed, and we feel a need to protect that part from harm.

Our first instinct is to see these feelings as holes we have to fill — maybe through money, sex, food, or something else.  But I’ve come to think that, when we start exploring that space instead of trying to get rid of it, we deepen our enjoyment and appreciation of living.

7 thoughts on
Loneliness and Embracing the Space

  1. Hilary

    Hi Chris .. very interesting post – I could so easily be lonely now having spent so long ensuring that my mother is well cared for .. and not having the backdrop of family with children, or my own – hence no local base .. my friends are scattered.

    I don’t feel lonely .. I am very independent and that’s probably a good thing and confident in myself .. that is by no means perfect, but I don’t fret – I learn. An old friend said the other day .. she was amazed at how aware and up to date on things I am .. and that is because of blogging and the learning I get from reading other blogs and posts .. I didn’t say that.

    There are things I’d love to do – but my mother’s care and concern are the most important thing .. and while that continues – I learn on ..

    I had a terrible long weekend many years ago – when loneliness did creep in – that was a shock and jogged me out into the world – never to return to dwell in my own blackness: thank fully.

    All the best – hope Summer is treating you well .. Hilary

  2. Joyce at I Take Off The Mask

    I can relate to how you felt, Chris. When I start to connect coming from that feeling of emptiness/loneliness, I just feel worse later on, especially when I approach people who can be easily affected by negative emotions. I feel better when I pray and seek a moment of quiet and stillness.

  3. Davina Haisell

    Hi Chris.

    Tweeted! This was a fabulous post. I enjoy your reflective posts and love how you are always seeking more knowledge and understanding. And, how you encourage your readers to think beyond what is in front of them. You really are a pioneer you know? A journeyer.

    I understand exactly what you are saying about loneliness. I have felt that way too and being curious about it is not necessarily where I want to go. I go looking for a quick fix to cover it up instead of digging into it. Being curious is a good suggestion. It removes us from expectation of how we “should” feel.

  4. Chris - Post author

    Hi Hilary — I can definitely get a sense of your strength as a person and the joy you take in living, and I’m glad you shared that with me.

  5. Chris - Post author

    Hi Joyce — yes, that sounds like a great idea — connecting with people after spending some quality time with yourself. Many of us spend non-quality time with ourselves regretting the fact that we’re alone, and so on, and we don’t end up nourished the way we could if we took some time to actually serve ourselves in the way meditation lets us do.

  6. Chris - Post author

    Hi Davina — I appreciate how you noticed that I’m always interested in exploring more deeply — I think I make my strongest contributions when I’m in an “exploring and sharing” rather than a “teaching” mode, and it’s what I enjoy doing the most. I can definitely relate to curiosity not being the place where I want to go as well. :)

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