I wrote a long post about belonging and loneliness – about our desire to belong and how it shows up in healthy and unhealthy ways.
I like you so, I’m sparing you. The writing went circles. It was stilted, messy, in conflict with itself.
But at the end of my long struggle with the topic, at the end of all that going round and round, out of the blue came an idea that I think is right.
It’s this: That feeling of being alone, separate, is an illusion. We all belong – deeply, inextricably. To the human family. To the planet. To life itself. We are each one knot in a tightly stitched fabric, one cell in a body.
A cell that thinks it does not belong to the body? A tapestry thread sure it is a single strand hanging in space? That’s about illusion.
It’s an illusion I fall into often. We all do.
When we believe we lack connection, we start thinking we need to get or make connection. We set off with that feeling of incompleteness to make new friends, reach out over email, talk to the gal at yoga class, show up a the brunch – all that stuff. We think the default state is separation, and we have to make or acquire connection through effort, being likable.
My experience is that doing that doesn’t feel very good – it feels like striving, like climbing uphill. It feels needy and it is – it comes from a place of feeling like I need something I’m missing.
The alternative is this: knowing you already belong. That you not only have connection but that you are connection. From there you go out into the world to express the connection that is, not to find or create it. What a difference.
You still make new friends and talk to the gal at yoga and join the book group – but not to fill a lack. You do it to live what already is. To play the music that you are, which is a music of connectedness. To do what is it is your nature to do, just like the bee gathers pollen and the bird builds a nest.
We need to rename and reconceptualize loneliness – because it’s not the sadness that comes from being isolated. It’s the pain that comes from not living the connectedness we already are.
This sounds lofty, but it is practical. The next time you are feeling lonely, separate, alone, like you don’t belong, first connect to your fundamental belonging. Remember your connectedness to the human family, to all of life, in -through music, in nature, or just by bringing this idea to mind – whatever works for you. Then, go out into the world with the intention to express connection, not to seek it.
There is nothing to seek because nothing is lacking. There is no connection to seek because you already are deeply connected to everyone and everything. There is only the longing to live a life that expresses that connection.

Feel the difference?

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Jen Smith says:

    Beautifully put Tara. Perspective is everything and I think the perception that we are seperate is common but an illusion. I love your take on it, as you said by knowing we are already connected our interactions and experiences are enriched, rather than coming from a place of lack.
    Thank you!

  • Jay Schryer says:

    This is a subtle, yet powerful shift in perspective. I think it would help a lot to think about things in this way…

    My problem is (I think), when I feel lonely, I can’t make myself feel the inherent connectedness. I can tell myself that I am connected to everyone and everything, but I can’t really feel it in my heart and soul. I can tell my mind that I am connected, but I can’t make my heart believe it…and so I still feel lonely. I usually rely on some outside stimulus (a call from a friend, an unexpected email, or maybe even just a smile from a stranger) to snap me out of it. Certain signs from nature can do the trick, too (a sudden breeze, a visit from an animal, noticing a flower or tree that I’ve never noticed before) I see any of these things as a little nudge from the Divine, reminding me that we are all connected, that we are all one. Whenever I get a little sign like that, it not only puts my head in the right place to deal with the loneliness, but it puts my heart there, too.

  • Beth says:

    Yes! BEing the expression of connection. I love it!

    I recently took myself out on a date and learned first hand about the expression of connection. It had been 3 months since my ex and I had any contact and I was lonely and somehow waiting for someone or something to come along and fill the hole that had been left. Each time I tried to connect with others it didn’t feel right as you said Tara because it was coming from the fear of lack and neediness. So when I wanted to go on a date I decided to explore what it would be like to be with myself on a date. I got dressed up, and took great care to look and feel good before I set out just like I would for if I was going with someone else. I went to a fine dining resteraunt and treated myself to a lovely meal and dining experience. While I was eating and enjoying my meal I was listening to the conversation that was taking place in my head. I was mindful of all the voices that expressed fear and doubt, critism and judgement. I listened carefully. Then I found myself smiling and telling myself what a brave and courageous woman I was and how much I loved being there and how grateful I was that I could be. To the outside world it may not have seemed like such a big deal but I knew what it had taken to breakthrough all the limiting beliefs I had that had kept me stuck in the pattern of loneliness and emptiness. In that moment I felt a peace and calm and gentleness arise within me that transcended the fear. I was simply enjoying the experience — all of it… the food, the lovely surroundings, the view from the window and yes even my own company — critical voices included. Right after that the couple sitting at the table next to me turned and spoke to me. We had a lovely conversation for about 10 minutes before they left. When they were leaving they came over to my table an told me how much they enjoyed meeting me and talking with me. It was mutual. I went home that night with a new perspective on loneliness.

    I share this story as an example of how we can breakthrough the illusion of separation when we extend love and compassion to those parts of us that are scared of being alone and feel separated. When we take time to be present with and listen to those voices and to reach in and hold them in our hearts we are shifting our consciousness and are then able to feel what we could not before — connection.

  • Linda says:

    Thank you, Tara, for sharing these thoughts about loneliness. So insightful!

  • I get this and see it as a great reminder. There really is no in between we’re either living in the illusion or seeing our wholeness.

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