Day 2 on ‘Loneliness & Connection From Teal Swan’s Perspectives’ of ‘Relationships’ Chapter
From ‘Remembering’ Series
[Listen to the audio with guided alignment at the end]
Have you ever felt lonely?
Whether you are alone or in the crowd, loneliness can be felt.
So, what is loneliness?
From Verywell Mind: Loneliness is defined by researchers as feeling lonely more than once a week. Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.
From iresearchnet: Loneliness is defined as the distressing experience that occurs when one’s social relationships are perceived to be less in quantity, and especially in quality, than desired.
From OSHO: Loneliness is a misunderstood aloneness. Loneliness is always concerned with others; aloneness is concerned with oneself. Aloneness has a beauty while loneliness is poor.
I perceived it as a state of being and it is subjective depending on how each of us see it. Personally, I have felt lonely, times when I was with my close circles when I was not understood, or times when I was alone but with overwhelm emotions not knowing how to handle it.
Your turn, what is your definition of loneliness?
The coming sharing is based on what I have learned from the book “The Anatomy of Loneliness: How to Find Your Way Back to Connection” by Teal Swan
The Loneliness Epidemic
Loneliness could be the number one source of suffering where we are all trying to avoid with different ways.
We all experienced pain in life, some is in the deepest form of trauma in the sense of disconnection. With this trauma, it splits us apart and separate us from the people and things around us, disconnecting ourselves.
Teal Swan identified the 3 pillars of loneliness:
The first pillar – Separation
Fragmentation within us is created when we deny some aspects of us, both positive and negative. For example, when some of our traits or behaviours were rejected from our family or how we adopt certain behaviours to be loved and accepted. Since young, for survival sake, we would disown, deny and suppress some aspects of us to be approved by our loved ones creating our personalities today.
When showing my vulnerability such as crying was perceived as not acceptable or would be punished because of it, I would fragment myself to bury this vulnerable aspect of me from my own awareness, thus creating a constant inner conflict within, what Teal Swan called multiple inner personalities.
The more we hate some traits in someone else, the more we rejected it within ourselves. The opposite is also true: the more we love something in someone else, the more we sorrowfully disowned it in ourself.
For example, I found out I disowned my anger when it arises by perceiving it as something negative, thus, many times before, I found people who get angry instantly very unacceptable.
Self reflection: Look at the traits that you hate in others, especially in your partner.
What bothers you in others?
The second pillar- Shame
Teal shared how shame is a primitive reaction in us like an instinct and our fight-flight mode where we push ourselves away from ourselves. Which is a mechanism of fragmentation as well as suppression, thus shame creates internal separation.
When we feel shame, the physical sensations include feeling smaller, contracting to almost hiding. Shyness and embarrassment are the secondary reaction to shame.
Since young, our survival is dependent on others, thus when we are separated or when we experience isolation, it is one huge threat for us. The fear of losing connection with others. When our caregivers ignore, shame or criticise us, we learned that the world is unsafe for us and we distrust it. If someone withdrawn from us, we would perceived we are undesirable, so if I am undesirable, I would push myself away with the fragmentation within, thinking “something is wrong with me”.
Many of us suffered emotional neglect in the childhood which is the trauma caused by what is not done- the comforting, the loving support, the loving words, and belonging which did not happen. When our emotional needs were not met in the childhood time, we will have difficulty to meet them in the adulthood. Most of us would internalised how we were treated negatively and treat ourselves as if there is something wrong with us and has to be punished.
Owning our shame is the first key to end shame. With compassion as a form of connectedness, where we can relate to the pain. When events or people trigger pain in us, we can ask, “what am I making this mean?”
Look at how we interpret the meaning of the situation, then question them instead of making assumption.
The third pillar: Fear
Fear is said to be the number one most isolating experience on the planet. The more fearful we are, the more alone we are. This results us to separate from others making us more lonely with human connection.
“People who are lonely are deeply fearful people. The fear they feel is the felt experience of pushing something away.”
Our core fear is the thing we try the hardest to avoid in life.
The 4 primary fears in relationships are abandonment, rejection or disapproval, being trapped in pain, and the loss of self (enmeshment).
Teal mentioned what we fear is the projection of ours into the unknown, the potential failure and fall we could experience. So, it is not the unknown we are afraid of but the projection we have with it, then unknown will no longer be scary. When we train ourselves to focus on the value of the experience, the worry will be greatly reduced.
Start by focusing and developing trust in our ability to handle whatever happens, when we believe that we could handle anything, fear would no longer kicks in to limit us to the possibilities in life. Begin by exercising your personal power with the choice you have, saying ‘I choose to (or) not to’ instead of ‘I can’t’.
Self reflection: “How would my life be different and what might I do differently with my time and energy if I just accepted that I am in a lifelong relationship with fear?”
You may also ask, “What is so frightening about this?” Feel the fear and be with it. See the projection of yours, is it real?
Isolation and Loneliness in adulthood
We grow up with the inabilities to manage our own emotions and with extreme fear of intimacy, we feel powerless, and thus, we tend to develop co-dependent relationships. All these behaviours and traits are our adaptation, the good news is, we can unlearn and relearn once we are aware of this.
The Key of Connection : Intimacy
The primary ingredient for connection is intimacy. Intimacy is more than physical sexual intimacy, sex is a part of intimacy.
Intimacy is about knowing yourself and being known by others for who you really are in all aspects of your life.
It is when we show who we are and at the same time the other person show who they are so we can connect to each other deeply, includes seeing into, feeling into, listening into, perceiving and understanding each other.
Why is intimacy so scary?
Because we have trusted people with ourselves in our lives where many of us have been hurt, betrayed, rejected, punished and ignored. When it seems like almost no one knows how to create and maintain healthy relationships, we learnt that our relationships will become painful and can never have a healthy connection, simply because we have not experience it.
We enter a relationship with our own pain and the other bring their own pain, so, to protect our inner self, we tend to keep things in to avoid further pain, and thus, most of our aspects are left unseen, unheard and unfelt.
Leading to the avoidance of intimacy
We avoid bad things or things which we perceived that might hurt us, knowingly or unknowingly. Absolutely terrified of things going bad if we let others see our true side, thinking they won’t accept us or even use this to go against or control us.
We were born naturally to be close to our parents so intimacy comes naturally to us all. If we have fear of intimacy, our parents either dismissed our neediness and shamed us for it or used it against us.
Then, for us as children, not knowingly, we would decide to see that our parents must be right about it, that our feelings thoughts and desired were invalid. We let it happen to keep us safe from conflict and avoid being abandoned. Thus, we lost our own truth, we lost ourselves.
As we grew up, we never get to resolve the pain with different experience, to be felt, to be seen, to be heard and to be understood. Without any frame of references of how is it like to have someone meet our needs in a consistent loving way, we move on to experience more heartbreak.
Simply, we avoid closeness because we have learned to cope with our own feelings with avoidance. Where we suppress our needs, feelings and we are doing the same to other people. We don’t want to feel, see, understand someone because that would bring up deep feelings of unfairness that we have not receive the same treatment in our childhood.
Imagine this, whenever we give someone love or attention, you are giving to the child in you which suffered and therefore helping to create a world where this kind of pain no longer exists.
Being okay to start again
First, for those who are afraid of intimacy or struggle with connection, we must accept and admit that we have no idea how to have a good relationship and prfioritize learning fro it from basic 101 now. Maybe because we do not have role models of a healthy relationship, so we do not know how.
Start talking to our inner self who have been wounded. Talk to them, understand them, feel them and give them the intimacy they did not received. Then, they will tell you what you need to do and what others need to do to allow closeness and intimacy to happen.
When we have shut people of, note that you have ignore this cues which can be a vicious cycle. Where people can perceive and feel as if you don’t have their best interest at heart, thus they might be in defence mode and not to care of your best interest too. When we respond to them where it makes them feel safe to be near you, the more they would want to take care of your needs.
“The day came that the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful that the risk it took to bloom.”Anaïs Nin
Time to be authentic
Starting with our parents. If you fear intimacy, we might prioritise our life in area of not showing vulnerability and strong emotions needs, we can start by showing the truth of us to our parents and our close ones. And, commit to being authentic by making it a priority.
PS: Read the book for more details, it is worth your time!
May we see, feel, hear and understand ourselves and that we can be seen, be felt, be heard and understood by someone.
May we love who we are and be loved for who we are.