How Can One Accept Loneliness?

“All great and precious things are lonely” – John Steinbeck. 

But are they truly? Can an individual maintain happiness while feeling the weight of loneliness pull them down like an anchor? The answer is simple. While one may feel like their loneliness is affecting their happiness, perhaps the only thing harming their happiness is the way in which they view it. Understanding self worth, finding self acceptance, and having self confidence can prevent one from letting that negatively perceived anchor of loneliness chain them down.

What is loneliness? Every person who is asked this simple question will provide you with a different answer. The truth is that loneliness is whatever one decides to accept it as. While some see it as failure, others see it as an opportunity. The existentialist philosophy encourages people to view life directly and to find an explanation for everything individually. Separating previous perceptions of loneliness and creating a new definition of a once-dreaded feeling can allow one to feel more comfortable with its presence in life. Accepting loneliness using a personal definition of what it means to oneself can help lead to further self acceptance and happiness as well.

However, the journey towards self acceptance is different for everyone. Some may choose to tackle emotions such as loneliness before learning self acceptance, while others may wish to learn self acceptance in order to define their emotions. An example of a person using self acceptance to understand loneliness truly shone through to me in Akira Kurosawa’s character, Kikuchiyo, from the film The Seven Samurai. Kikuchiyo’s main goal throughout the film is to find a sense of belonging in a world that he feels is not made for him. While he struggles to understand his place in society, he practices having self confidence and acceptance of his place in his own mind. For example, he stands up for what is right despite feeling pressured to fit in, “But then who made farmers such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food!” As he stubbornly chooses to join the samurai in defending a village from bandit attacks, he truly does find his place alongside new companions who eventually respect him for respecting himself. Since people are drawn to confidence, having acceptance and confidence in oneself can help one feel less lonely and also leads towards redefining what loneliness is.

While it is true that studies have shown that loneliness leads to predominantly negative emotions, those emotions have been drawn out because of the already negative perception and societal definition of what loneliness is. For example, children today are more prone to show more signs of narcissism and anxiety compared to children growing up in the 50’s due to a lack of community in today’s society. Community and togetherness should always be encouraged, however the concept of being alone shouldn’t be inherently discouraged as well. As technology advances, we are provided with many more resources to educate ourselves and others on how loneliness is a normal part of being human. 

Using resources out there to unlearn biased negative labels that are associated with loneliness can allow people to become more self accepting and comfortable with their personal happiness. Self confidence and acceptance along with a redefined understanding of loneliness can change the lives of many.

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