Decoding Loneliness: How to Stop Being an Engineer of Your Own Misery
Loneliness is ugly. Especially if it holds a firm grip on your heart when you’re surrounded by people who you care about, or when you’re in a (more or less) functional relationship.
It's a giant toad sitting on the source of your happiness.
And you ask yourself:
What’s wrong with me?
Why can’t they really see me?
Why can’t I deserve true love?
Why does it hurt so much?
You believe that you’re not asking that much. Just a bit of understanding and affection in return for what you give.
But do you?
Do you give enough?
Like attracts like. When you give a lot of love, you receive a lot of love.
And you believe you do. Most of the days you feel you're catering to the needs of others more than your own. You don't even think about saying 'no' when somebody asks you for help. Or – let's be real – you think about it but find it extremely hard to say out loud. Because when you do, guilt starts knocking on your door almost instantaneously.
All things considered, you're what we may call a 'good person'.
So how do I even dare to ask if you deserve to get some of the love back?
I'll tell you why...
Caring is not loving.
Serving is not loving.
Being nice to people so they like you more is not loving.
ASKING BEFORE GIVING IS NOT LOVE.
This may be difficult to turn your head around, I get it. Like many other women I know, I used to suffer from the "good girl syndrome" in the past.
I would study and work hard so that others would appreciate me more, and sometimes even look up to me.
I would be available to anyone who needed me and always eager to lend a helping hand.
I would never complain, I'd smile, and listen to other people's problems without asking to be listened to.
A good girl simply does everything in her power to deserve her right to exist.
Disturbing but very true. And if you're a man reading this, it's a safe bet to assume that you don't consider yourself a people-pleaser. But give it a few thoughts and try to see for yourself how many of your decisions are based on what you genuinely want and how many are directed towards earning approval, recognition, and, yes, even just plain ol' good love.
You should have an idea about what I'm getting at.
You love a person for who they are, not for how they behave, no matter if they love you back, or even if they provide zero, literally zero, in return.
Phew. A tough one, isn't it?
Is the reality we live in even made for "the Jesus Christ type of love"? Love for another? Simply because we are all humans?
Now, it's bubbling inside you. I can feel it. Life is difficult as it is.
But the love I'm talking about here doesn't require words or big gestures. It's actually pretty calm and often absolutely silent.
It's looking someone in the eyes for a few seconds. It's listening without judgment. It's being present for the other if you're sharing the same room – no screens, no headphones. It's holding somebody's hand when they desperately need it. It's flashing an encouraging smile. It's happily not talking together. It's seeing the beauty in a person nobody else has noticed before. It's both offering help if you're asked to and restraining from helping if you're not.
There's no condition, no expectation, no demand.
Each time you offer this kind of love, you yourself feel good. And you naturally want to give more.
Each time you offer this kind of love, you are less lonely.
We often hear people sigh, "I care so much about other people. Maybe, too much." The underlying message being – I do everything I can to make others happy but they don't treat me the same way. I'm hurt. I'm lonely.
They don't understand that it's as if they kept offering their neighbors to water their plants while their own well was nearly dried up and their land desiccated – hoping that, in return, they'll bring a basket full of fruits with them home.
If they rather took the little water left and grew a small harvest of their own, they'd still have enough to share with those who are hungry. And one day they'd perhaps wake up to the drops of life-saving rain, their well filling up, and their garden blooming.