My friends were laughing; it had been an amusing story. I hardly paid attention to it. I smiled and chuckled on cue just to join with the group. We were having dinner, just a group of friends, hanging out. I think it was on a Thursday night. Everyone was talking about their plans for the weekend, some new movie was coming out, and we all made plans to go see it. I was usually the ring leader for these outings, with my love for popcorn, so of course I led the charge when the topic changed to the movie release, and plans were quickly chartered for dinner and a movie.
I went home a little while later and sat in front of the tv. By habit, I turned it on to some news channel, or maybe it was the history channel. It didn’t really matter. My laptop was in front of me, and there was plenty of work I could be doing. I looked at the clock; funny how time flies when you are doing nothing. I had been home for two hours; it was now just after 11:30 pm, and I had only a vague recollection of anything I saw on tv. I went to bed, vowing that tomorrow would be different. The same vow I had made many times before.
It is so easy to get caught up in a repetitive cycle of human thoughts, emotion, and behavior. And even though you may want to change, know that you have to change, the cycle is easier because it is what you are familiar with. The irony is, the cycle is not what you want, and it is not that you unfamiliar with what it is you need to change, it is just the most recent pattern with which you have adopted.
In my example of the experience above, I was with my closest friends, and yet I felt totally alone. There people had known me for years, and yet I felt they did not know me. This is not reality. This was my delusion. I had created a self imposed cycle of isolation. I was going through the motions of hanging out with my friends, but it was a facade. I did it because its what they expected of me, and was a way to help me cope with my feelings of isolation or depression.
Hanging out with my friends was supposed to be fun, playful and exciting, especially when its good food, laughter and good times. But because I refused to engage internally, it was actually just making my awareness of a need to change, stronger. And this was creating an internal struggle within me. I was losing the fight. So, hanging out with my friends wasn’t enough.
In many cases, if you do play and have fun, and hang out with your friends, you can move through your sorrow and desperation, but many times this is a temporary fix. Of course, I do not advocate the use of alcohol or drugs, for that is just self medication and just aggravates the situation. I have often tried techniques that I have used in my spiritual trainings, but all of these have just seemed to give me more awareness of my problem or more energy to be frustrated with. And then a miracle happened…
Ok, not so much a miracle, but one similar night, my phone rang. I answered the phone and it was a friend, having a rough day. It wasn’t an Earth shattering day, just having a rough go of things, so we talked for about 15 to 20 minutes and he asked me to help him understand a few things. He felt better and like he was headed in a good direction, so when I hung up, I felt better. Granted, I didn’t feel great, but I had helped a friend, and the friend had helped to remind me that I cared about them, and I realized that all of this time I had just been focusing on the things that were bothering me. On feelings of betrayal, insecurity and doubt, and that I had failed to truly care about anybody else. And because of this feeling of not being connected to anyone, I felt truly alone. Through my introspection, I had my medicine.
The next day, when I started to feel depressed and alone, I asked myself if there was anyone that just needed a friend right now, and I made contact and felt better This time my feeling better lasted a little longer.
In all spiritual training, the student initiate must reach a point where they serve others. This service to others is supporting others’ connection, their strength, light, and guidance. And every person you help to do this adds another block to your own spiritual foundation, until you have enough blocks that you begin to realize no matter how hard you try, you will never be alone.
So, my self imposed isolation ended as soon as I began caring for others, even just listening to them. This does not require a 24/7 commitment, just a small effort on your part, and the change is immediate. The highest form of service anyone can do is to bring a joyful smile to the lips and heart of another being. This is most easily done by sharing yours.
There is still a problem with this solution, which is that it has the potential to keep you locked on human emotional suffering. I do advocate these actions, but only as the first step, because it is by making this first step that this second step is very easy to attain. And that second step is to define a purpose. Make a list of the things that you have wanted to do and have always put off, and start taking actions to accomplish the first thing on your list.
When you help someone, you are sharing light, and this pulls you out of your own darkness, and once you stand in the light, inspiration easily follows. And a person with purpose and passion is unstoppable.
What have you done to help you shift out of loneliness? Please share in the comments below.