The Struggle With Loneliness

Many of us seem to struggle with loneliness. But why? In my book, Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. There is a chapter on Love and Loneliness. I mention there’s a contributing factor to many illnesses today, and this factor is one you would likely overlook.

It gets little society attention, yet  research is showing it’s impacting our lives in  subtle and tragic ways. I believe the number one illness today is: Loneliness – Social Isolation.

A disconnect with ourselves and each other creates quiet, yet dangerous traits of social divide and discontent.

For many people today, there appears to be a greater strain and avoidance to connect with ourselves, each other, and with our Source (divine). The consequences of this disconnect for us and our planet’s well-being is becoming more apparent and more critical with each passing day.

Studies are now showing, the loneliness factor is a link to many major illnesses and disorders, such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, depression, etc.

In addition, loneliness contributes to many forms of addictions, like: drugs, alcohol, gambling, obsessive internet use and internet porn. Even crime and violent behavior toward others and/or self like: mass shootings or suicide have a connection to loneliness.

Lonely in Relationship

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.—Mother Teresa

Many people in relationship or friendships often speak of being lonely. Not cared about, not understood and/or appreciated for who they are, and what they offer to the relationship.

Two Relationship Fears

There are two common relationship fears:
1. The fear of being Alone.
2. Fear of being Smothered.

Most people with stay in a unhealthy relationship due to fear of being alone. However, people will likely leave a relationship or friendship sooner, if they feel they are being smothered in it.

Fear keeps us stuck in what we don’t want and is unhealthy for us.

Fear of loneliness often keeps people in loveless and unhealthy relationships. People stay in what they believe is familiar, for this is perceived as safe and secure. However, it’s really a false sense of security.  Staying in what’s familiar, yet unloving, unhealthy, perhaps even dangerous; will in time weaken our immune system. Thus, making us more susceptible to physical and/or emotional struggles and dis-ease.

The Avoidance of Self

Many people go into relationship as a way to avoid themselves. I don’t love or value myself, so I make the person I’m in relationship with, responsible for my happiness. They are in my life to full my own inner void of discontent.

To make others responsible for my own happiness, is a setup for disappointment, conflict and much discord in the relationship.

If we don’t first and foremost love ourselves and have a degree of inner happiness, we will consciously and especially unconsciously, create expectations and conditions as to how the other person is to love and be in relationship with us.

There is a paradox when it comes to the concept of relationship and loneliness.
The reality is, all relationships end, ultimately in the physical sense, with death. So at some point we will be alone in the loss of a relationship. It is through being alone, however, that we have the opportunity to learn to have a loving, accepting and compassionate relationship with ourselves.

When you can be alone and not be lonely. You will have learned self-love and inner contentment.

For when we are loving and accepting with ourselves, we have filled our inner void. We are comfortable with ourselves. So we are not needy or dependent on others for our happiness and contentment. We then will freely extend this love and acceptance to others. This is the hallmark of a quality and healthy relationship.

We can be happy in a relationship, but the person we are in relationship with; is not to be made responsible for our own happiness. That’s our own inside job.

My Own Contemplation

In my 25 plus years in the human service and development fields. I’ve concluded that the main reason for one’s feelings of loneliness is spiritual disconnect, i.e. a loss of faith and connection in a power greater than one self.

This disconnection manifests itself in the unwillingness and/or avoidance to connect with Source. This in turn, creates a loss of faith and belief in oneself. This disconnect with self and a higher power, will than manifest into the disconnect of meaningful and healthy connection with others.

This disconnect, results in seeing the world and one’s life through the lens of fear, separation, neediness and unworthiness.

I believe spiritual disconnection and the loneliness that comes from it, are the result of being defined by our ego’s self-created negative story, which we repeat to ourselves and others.

Spiritual disconnect also creates a lack of awareness and the openness to explore and ultimately answer the fundamental spiritual questions: Who Am I?  Why am I here? What’s my purpose?

When we feel no relationship with Source, these questions seem to have little meaning and merit to explore and answer. Without the recognition that we come from love and the infinite Source of the universe, we can neglect a meaningful sense connection, sense of purpose or direction in life.

We have a void in the awareness and appreciation of the spirit within us; which creates low self-esteem (the perception and belief of separation, the loss of the spirit within).

The Illusion of Separation

The perception and belief of separation is the main driver of our ego, its a created illusion, we can make very real. Separation and loneliness doesn’t exist.  The reality is, we are included and surrounded by an infinite universe and all that makes it be. We are the universe and the universe is us.

Just because someone in your life, rejected you, abandoned you, betrayed you, etc. doesn’t mean the entire world or universe did the same. Our ego and shadow aspects tends to project an ‘all or nothing”,  “I feel it, therefore I  believe it” belief system, that creates a “must be true” way of being and living.

We are called within our wounds and belief of separation to acknowledge, we have forgotten the truth of our essence. We are called to open our eyes and heart more fully to see and embrace the higher truth.

We are included, we do matter… We are Love, innocence and goodness. This is our remembering. 

Loneliness and Our Well-Being

On physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual levels we are designed to connect with each other, our world and universe. Relating is part of our essence as a human energy system.

Research, indicates that loneliness has become a social epidemic. It’s affecting our health and sense of well-being, leaving many to feel alone, deprived and powerless.

Driven to Distraction

There is another dynamic happening that contributes to loneliness―the explosion and abundance of technology―the way we connect, communicate and entertain ourselves. Advances in technology, have in one sense been very helpful, but the more we’re driven to connect through computers and iPhones, we lose a sense of personal understanding, of our need for each other and for real, genuine human connection. These distractions have increasingly created superficial connections with each other.

Recent studies tell us that our iPhones, computers and video games are subtle yet dangerous obsessions, leading to addictions for both adults and youth. Studies show that when people’s iPhone or computers are taken away for three or four days, many of the subjects had withdrawal symptoms similar to someone who has a gambling or drug addiction.

Without the use of the phone or Internet, the subjects became anxious, easily agitated and depressed. Many people obsessed with cell phone or Internet use are doing so to escape loneliness and boredom. Yet, it’s making them more isolated and unhappy.

Distraction seems to be a common and acceptable norm today. Have you noticed yourself or seen others sitting next to each other, and their conversing by texting each other. Or one person is talking trying to converse with the person next to them; while the other person is on their phone texting or looking at their email, not paying attention to person they are physically next to?

Research shows the average person looks down at their phone 150 times per day, this amounts to nearly 4 years of their life. That’s just your phone, if you included looking at your laptop iPod, TV, etc. How many more months or years are added to looking down?

Our man-made distractions are diversions from the infinite love and connection available to us. These distractions and diversions can cause us to have a sad, lonely heart, and may lead us into states of anxiety and depression. Our distractions are superficial ways of finding meaning and purpose in our life.

Create Balance

To reduce the negative effects of these distractions, and enhance quality human connection, the value of balance becomes apparent.

To create balance we need a sense of connection and support. We are first and foremost spiritual beings. So we must create time and opportunity for genuine connection.

Here are some helpful tips for creating this balance and meaningful connection:

  • Be aware. Discipline yourself to strike a healthy balance between the use of technology, your interpersonal relationships and work commitments.
  • Commit to more face to face time/interaction rather than just Face time through social media use.
  • Integral to maintaining this balance is commitment to periods of quiet reflection and spiritual retreat, either alone, in groups or both.
  • Take walks or other mind, body, spirit practices, i.e. meditation, yoga, gardening.
  • Look up and reach out to your neighbor, your world and the universe.
  • Get to know your neighbor and be a good/helpful neighbor.
  • Join or start a meetup group, volunteer, throw a party.
  • Live more from your heart-center. Practice gratitude and be of service.
  • Connect with your feelings and emotions and learn from them.
  • Love and support yourself, others and our planet. As spiritual beings, we are designed to create soul-full communion and meaning in our lives.

In Closing

Our current times of stress, uncertainty and extremes call us to a deeper more accepting and compassionate connection with our self, our neighbors, our planet and our Creator.

We are called to create healthier balance between use of technology and true social connection. Life and its experiences invite us to come together in love, acceptance and unity.

Loneliness is the result of distractions, judgment, fear and exclusion.
Connection, however, is grounded in love, attention, acceptance and inclusion.

The universe exists through inner connectedness and community. We yearn to experience a deeper connection and intimacy with Source, ourselves and others—it’s where we come from—our human nature within our divine nature.

So out of love, reach out and connect – touch someone. This promotes a happy, healthy life and friendly planet.  Namaste

 


Are you struggling loneliness and self-love? Are you struggling with grief from lost of a loving relationship? Help is just a phone call or email away. Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your acceptance and change issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at 
transitionpathways.com. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move through life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey is available through online book stores: balboapress.comamazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

References:

  1. Brigham Young University. Medical Research: Strong Relationships with Friends/Family Decreases Risk of Death. www.pr.com/press-release/251477. 2010.
  2. Holmes, Leonard. Loneliness Impairs the Immune System. www.mentalhealth.about.com/od/research/a/lonely/flu.htm. 2005.

 

The Drama We Attract in Our Life

Do you ever wonder why you have drama in your life?  The answer to this question may relate to two factors:

1. You were born into a family.

2. The nature of life, is experiences. And many of our experiences revolve around interactions and relationships with people, especially family. Within these experiences, we develop core beliefs about ourselves, about relationship and life in general.

For your life experiences, especially in childhood, begin to shape and create your belief system and behavior patterns. We learn to take on a particular role in what’s commonly called the “Drama Triangle.”

The concept and dynamic of the “Drama Triangle” was first conceived by Dr. Stephen Karpman https://www.karpmandramatriangle.com/ in the 1960’s as a social model. Karpman’s triangle has been adapted for use in structural analysis, which defines roles people take on during conflict situations; also how it can become our go-to defense and protection mode in time of stress, change (uncertainty) or conflict. In recent years, Lynne Forrest https://www.lynneforrest.com/ has done much research and work with the drama triangle and she has some excellent information on this topic and its dynamics.

The 3 roles or faces in the triangle are the: Victim, Rescuer and Persecutor.  A person has one default or go-to role, but participants can and do switch roles depending on their perceptions and what gets triggered in them, while experiencing situations and interactions. As we experience life, it’s common that we all have played these roles from time to time.

Some people are so use to drama in their life, they view this as normal and a way of life, because they experienced this from early on in life. For some, if there isn’t drama going on in their life, they unconsciously will create conflict, so as to have drama, i.e. a sense of “normal” in their life.

Some who struggle with depression, will create a repeated pattern or cycle of depression to conflict/drama and back to depression. A person who struggles with chronic depression or victim energy; the conflict and drama part of the cycle moves that depressive energy perhaps into persecutor or fighter energy, which makes the person feel more alive for a time, until they fall back into the depressive part of the pattern.

Below, I offer a brief description, the mindsets and behaviors of the 3 roles in the triangle dynamic. I also offer some insight as to what’s needed to move oneself out of a particular role in the triangle. Included in the middle of this blog is a diagram of the drama triangle and the transformation to empowerment i.e. ways to step out of the particular drama roles.

The Victim: The victim is the central figure in the drama triangle, by their actions and reactions to stress, change or conflict. Their stance is: “Why me”, “Poor me”, and “I hate myself.” Behaviors: They are very needy, feeling and belief of helpless, hopeless, fearful, negativity, worry, complain, low self-esteem, and focus on self. They are very self-absorbed, yet have little to no awareness of this. They often feel rejected and/or abandoned. Yet, they have abandoned themselves, by way of not taking stock in themselves, not believing in themselves and their struggle with doing for themselves.

Victims often emotionally and physically drain others around them by their neediness and negativity. They have little to no physical or emotional energy or motivation. This creates the need for others to do for them, because they feel and believe they can’t do for themselves. Victims, use guilt and the projection of helplessness to manipulate others, especially a” rescuer” into doing for them. The victim needs a rescuer to come to their aid. So they will attract rescuer energy through their interactions and relationships.

The Rescuer: The rescuer’s stance and line is: “Let me help you” – “I can do this for you.”  The rescuer is the helper, and becomes the enabler in doing for others at the expense of themselves. Rescuer behaviors: needy, avoiding of self, focus on others, high energy. Rescuers have a strong need to be needed. If they are not helping others they feel guilty or shame. Rescuer thinking and behaviors usually comes about due to past experiences where they felt helpless or inadequate to assist someone.

To compensate, for this feeling of inadequacy and believing, “I should have done something or more.” They now make it their mindset and mission to “save the world.” and live to assist others in all ways and forms. They live a rapid pace in thinking, speech and behavior. The rescuer actually takes on this role as a way to avoid facing and dealing with their own struggles and problems. To protect their low self-esteem and insecurities their way of building themselves up is by constantly helping and doing for others.

Many people go into helping professions, such health care, teaching, customer service, entertainment,  as a way to avoid looking and dealing with their own struggles and pain.

The rescuer needs the victim to do for them, so they will often attract victim energy through their interactions and relationships. This gives the rescuer the perception of being of service, being needed. Rescuers often project a sense of entitlement to help others and speak of their sacrifice in order to help/save others. Due to their strong need to avoid themselves and conviction to assist others, they can become the “Martyr” as they sacrifice for others.

The Persecutor: (a .k. a. Fighter or Bully) Stance and mindset is: “I need to win.”  “It’s your fault.” “I hate you.” The Persecutor is angry controlling, critical, blaming, rigid, oppressive, and authoritative, feels entitled and needs to feel superior. The Persecutor struggles with taking responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind they feel justified, because they believe others deserve to be hurt, because they themselves are hurting. They often have past wounds of betrayal and injustice. Since the Persecutor was hurt in the past, they see a need to protect themselves in aggressive and demeaning ways. They view the world as a hostile and dangerous place. In order to survive, they need to be the aggressor and have power-over others.

The Persecutor needs the victim in order to have the power-over feeling and someone to blame. The Persecutor is also hiding their own insecurities and low self-worth. Their way of building themselves up is by tearing others down, especially emotionally, by put downs, sarcasm, etc.

How the Drama Unfolds

Consider, most of humanity is either in the victim or fighter energy and consciousness. As humans, with an ego, we struggle with taking responsibility for how we’ve learn to be in the world. We play the “Blame game.” Or we take on too much responsibility, owning more than our share.This is playing the “Shame game.” Shame and blame are the drivers of drama triangles dynamic.

Initially, a drama triangle unfolds when one person takes on the role of a victim and another person takes on the role of persecutor. The victim then feels the need to enlist other people into the conflict. This need invites a rescuer to enter the situation. These enrolled players take on roles of their own that are not fixed, and therefore various scenarios can occur. For example, as a situation unfolds into conflict, the victim might turn on the rescuer, the rescuer then switches to persecuting and the drama is in full swing.

From Victim

In reality, each role or face in the triangle: the persecutor, rescuer, and the victim, are all victims, just with different styles and ways of expression. Each role is acting out in selfish and entitled ways to get their own needs meant and reinforce their belief system. Each role with their mindset and behaviors in the long run, not only hurts or drains others; more importantly, they hurt themselves. Additionally, the role players, each have their own struggles and difficulty, with effectively coping with stress/change, effectively problem-solving and having healthy interactions and fulfilling relationships.

Each person playing the different roles struggles with guilt, yet on a deeper level each role actually struggles with shame. Although at first they wouldn’t admit this. You might be asking: What’s the difference between shame and guilt? In simple terms, guilt is what I’ve done or haven’t done. Shame is who I believe I am. Shame is much more paralyzing and in the energy of shame we need to protect ourselves more. Many say its guilt they are feeling when it’s really shame, because of who they believe and thus become in the experience, the emotions and beliefs they generate from the situation.

This diagram below, shows the 3 faces of victim-hood. The Victim is consumed and defined by their wounds turned to pain, becoming helpless and hopeless. The rescuer is the shadow mother – the caretaker, doesn’t want others to feel or be in pain. Rescuer seeks to fix the problem/pain. Which really is about avoiding their own pain and hardship. No growth come from this.  The persecutor is the shadow father energy, which needs to get even, to inflect pain, through anger and aggression.

The bottom part of the diagram is the way to transformation and empowerment. Each person chooses to take on a role that is more empowering both for themselves and others in the conflict or changing life experience.

The Transformation to Empowerment

Transformation happens, when each person openly acknowledges and admits to themselves and to someone else, their role in the drama triangle. With this acknowledgement, we begin to move toward acceptance and from this acceptance we begin to move forward. We begin to take responsibility for how we’ve shown up in life. This creates a sense of inner relief and creates the opportunity for change and transformation to happen.

Move from Victim energy to Creator energy:
 Person realizes the pain of being helpless and hopeless (victim) is greater than doing for themselves. The creator, now chooses to be the creator of their life, rather than a victim in their life. They take responsibility for how they’ve learned to show up in life, and choose to embrace a “can do” mindset and attitude. Creators, seek to reclaim their inner power and confidence through reconciling the wounds and negative self-beliefs of their past. Choosing now to not be a victim of their past, rather to learn from their past and no longer be defined by it. Creators, choose to live their true potential in the now. They recuse themselves and reclaim, the love, innocence and goodness they are.

In pushing into and engaging in their low self-worth and sense of powerlessness, creators, move from hopeless to hopeful, from powerless to empowerment. They understand now, they are the creator of their experiences and responsible for their own misery or happiness.

Move from Rescuer energy to Coach energy:
Person realizes in avoiding their own struggles and pain, they are creating more pain for themselves. They can openly see and admit that helping others, has been about the avoidance of self. Rescuers, come from fear, often feeling inadequate.  All this shows the rescuer,  how much they don’t love themselves.

The role of coach, plants seeds of possibilities for others, without needing to rescue or fix others. They realize the importance of rescuing themselves from the denial and avoidance of their own struggles and inner wounds. As the coach, they begin to build their self-worth more from the inside-out, rather than just outside-in. The coach, understands that taking care of the self is not selfish, it’s actually an expression and act of self-love. This is a fundamental way of helping others. Love your neighbor, as you love yourself. What you do “to” and “with” yourself, you do to the relationship you have with others. When we have our own inner house in order, we can more effectively be there for others. Our self-worth and happiness is not dependent on others. Here again, it’s about changing from the inside-out.

Move from Persecutor energy to Challenger energy:
This person has reconciled their inner desire to control and demean others. The persecutor to challenger, sees how they have been hurting others. Because, they themselves have been hurting deep inside. They take responsibility for their wounds, rather than making others responsible for this. Confronting and challenging themselves  to be a better, more loving version to themselves.  In the words of a greater master and teacher. The Persecutor to challenger, now acknowledges and accepts the log in their own eye, as they were before condemning the stick in their neighbor’s eye.

The Challenger, more confidently walks their talk,  gains respect  (rather than demands respect)  from others by leading by example. They move from the position of needing to be superior as way of hiding their insecurities to being open and authentic with others. Being a challenger, one is more comfortable with vulnerability and how this leads to greater trust and connection with others. They now challenge, rather condemn others to be a better version of themselves by speaking their truth with words of encouragement and peace. Modeling the way, rather than condemning the way.

In closing, understanding and reconciling our core negative beliefs about ourselves is crucial. Changing the story or narrative we’ve created about ourselves, in relation to our life experiences, is also important. This is the work towards knowing, healing and mastering the self. Furthermore, when we are aware of (know) how the players in the drama are created through our beliefs about ourselves within life experiences; especially those in childhood. This creates the opportunity to realize how we get caught up in drama. From this awareness, we create the willingness to transform ourselves to more healthy ways of being with conflict and change.

As expressed in the Transformation to Empowerment part of this blog. This transformation, allows us to effectively avoid or remove ourselves sooner from much of the potential drama in our life.
                 To know the self, is to empower and transform the self.

 

Need coaching or counseling with your relationship struggles, I’m a phone call or email away, to assist you. David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. Visit David’s website: transitionpathways.com David’s book, Just Be Love is available through online bookstores: amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.