Have you ever thought of loneliness from a positive perspective? I guess most of us won’t. The word ‘loneliness’ doesn’t sound pleasant to many of us because we believe that loneliness is something bad. People tend to associate loneliness with unfriendliness, isolation, and unsociability. Loneliness has so much negative connotations attached to it that perhaps we see it as an undesirable aspect of life.
But not many of us understand that loneliness can be a positive thing in life. No matter how social, likeable and friendly we may be, we all have to go through the phase of loneliness at some point in our lives.
So how does one perceive loneliness and how can it be positive for us? The first step is to understand what loneliness is. Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Sometimes people choose to be alone, as it gives them a sense of satisfaction or causes them to be happy and self-contained (Martin, 2016). At times writers or artists find that being alone enables them to be more creative and even productive. Loneliness is not a choice. An individual can feel lonely even when he or she is in a crowd and a person can choose to be alone and yet be happy (Taylor, Peplau, & Sears, 2006). All of this depends on the individual’s personality.
Loneliness is a deep sense of isolation where a person feel he/she does not have someone to talk to or someone who will listen to them. Having this “someone” makes them feel cared for because they provide a mental, social, and psychological connection (Buchanan, 2012). Loneliness can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as moving to a new place, being away from family, friends or loved ones, the ending of a relationship or even physical illness (Taylor, Peplau, & Sears, 2006). Situational loneliness can cause people to become depressed and feel miserable. Eventually people move out of their situational loneliness and re-establish a satisfying social life (Taylor, Peplau, & Sears, 2006). However, there can be times when people are unable to move out of their situation or change their circumstances and inevitably face a long phase of loneliness.
Rokach (2004) observes that loneliness can cause people to take a break from their hectic pace of life and experience solitude, which in turn can result in self-reflection and introspection that leads to an enhanced self-awareness. Based on Rokach’s (2004) observation it can be emphasized that loneliness can sometimes be a positive thing for us. Thomas Wolfe, an American novelist of the 20th century is said to have produced some of his greatest works (Of Time and the River, Look Homeward Angel and Youngblood Hawke) when he was drowned in the sea of loneliness (Buchanan, 2012). Not all of us can turn out to be renowned writers because of loneliness, but it can help us steer life in a positive direction by enhancing the scope for reflection, self-awareness, individuality and creativity (Rokach, 2004).
So what do you think? Can loneliness be turned into a positive thing?
Buchanan, H.A. (2012). Essays. Indiana: AuthorHouse
Martin, B. (2016). Being Alone Without Being Lonely. Psych Central. Retrieved from:https://psychcentral.com/lib/being-alone-without-being-lonely/
Rokach, A. (2004). Loneliness Then and Now: Reflections on Social and Emotional Alienation in Everyday Life. Current Psychology, Vol. 23, No.1, pp.24-40.
Taylor, S.E., Peplau, L.A. and Sears, D.O. (2006). Social Psychology. 12th Edition. India: Pearson Education.