"Tadpole, everyone experiences loneliness sometime during their life. And a frog's sense of loneliness changes over time. I believe that is true for humans, as well. The worst thing about a frog's loneliness, Irwin, is that it brings him face to face with himself. Often we don't like being along with ourselves. Frogs and humans, too, are social animals, This means that when we find ourselves isolated, for whatever reason, we become lonely. Loneliness ebbs and flows, almost in a predictable way, as we go through life. And, interestingly enough, we tend to feel loneliest when we are young and then again when we are old. Among those two "high-risk" groups, as much as one-quarter of them say they feel lonely on a regular basis. Maybe, my boy, I can help you understand why you feel lonely now that your friends are away, and it might you deal with your isolation a little bit better."
Dharma explained that much of loneliness is only perceived loneliness. One frog can feel lonely when his friends are on holiday and another frog may be happy to have more time for himself. All this means is that loneliness is subjective. Frogs and humans alike tend to be lonelier when they have more distressing and less pleasant relationships, are more dissatisfied with their relationships, or want more time with their friends, But we need to look at our relationships in terms of quality and quantity. What's interesting to note, Dharma said, is that the importance of quality and quantity change at different ages. The quantity of time spent with friends seems to be more important when we're younger, Dharma advised me and, he thought, was the reason I was missing my absent friends so much. But, he assured me, as we age, quality of time spent with friends as well as the quality of our relationships themselves, becomes important. Young humans and frogs want loads of friends and older humans and frogs require fewer friends but want to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with them.
Income, too, can play a role in our loneliness. Both senior citizens and youngster can expect to feel a financial pinch and seem to be okay with it. They share that with their peers. But those in middle age who experience a financial setback or hardship can often feel embarrassed by their lack of money. This causes them to withdraw from their friends and induces feelings of loneliness. These are the times, though, when we most need the company of others, especially those who can understand where we're coming from. Support groups can help.
Whatever the reason for loneliness we can learn to accept it and maybe even appreciate it. Dharma suggested that feelings of loneliness are more bearable when we are okay with who we are. Liking who we are is the key to taming loneliness. If you don't enjoy spending time with yourself, it can be difficult for others to want to spend time with you. Happy, grounded people are just more fun to be with. Me, myself, and I can be a fun group if you take the time to get to know them! Spending time getting to who we really are, what we want out of life, can make time spent alone far more pleasant. Developing interests that don't rely on others...photography, reading, writing, arts and crafts, artistic endeavors...these are all things we can do on our own that help us develop our own sense of who we are. We can use our alone time to grow and develop. Enjoying the company of ourselves is important to feeling fulfilled.
No one lives their entire life without some time spent alone. Liking our own company, finding things to do that interest and stimulate us helps those periods of solitude pass more quickly and even become treasured. We all need to face ourselves sometime. The early we learn to do this, the happier we are as we go through life. And the less likely we are to fear being alone.
I know that Dharma is right. I do miss my friends but I know they're having fun and will be back again soon. As for me, I have many interests and hobbies and it's time I dusted off one or two of them and spend some quality alone time with myself doing something I really enjoy. Loneliness is never fun, especially if it's prolonged. But understanding why we get lonely and knowing how we can be okay with it when it does happen, is the key to beating the blues.
I invite you back here tomorrow for a special blog on one of my favorite subjects. Hint: it can make you laugh...or groan. Until then, I wish you all a Happy Hump Day and may you find love, joy and