Elikem Akpakpo Discusses “The Better Side of Loneliness”

As if greater than the “City of God”, so many glorious things are told of the opposites of loneliness which are the states of togetherness or being in a company. Loneliness has negative connotations. And never have I heard a teacher, a preacher or an elder ever commend “loneliness” to someone. Loneliness is not like solitude for it is not the individual person that decides to enter into loneliness as in the case of solitude. The word loneliness assumes the person is sad about being alone, and sadness is a negative emotion whereas solitude implies a sense of peace and quiet. Loneliness is said to be the most painful thing in the world. It entails a lot of things. It is the emotional response to lack of companion. Yes, loneliness includes so many negatives. Supporting my intention to come up with something on the positive side of “this sickness of the world” called loneliness is the saying that “every cloud has a silver lining”. Looking at the above statement there exists a challenge to the fact that nothing good has ever been said of “loneliness’. If so, where then lies its silver lining? Hasn’t it got anything good to offer?

Photo credit: Xprezia

Looking at the studies or researches on the negatives surrounding it, I say with my chest out that loneliness is a key to doors of happiness and has great positive deals to offer us and that is if and if it is “true” loneliness. This loneliness is the one described as social pain—a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate them to seek social connections. Loneliness is defined in terms of one’s connectedness to others, or more specifically as “the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of social relations is deficient in some important way”. And if this social pain and psychological mechanism alerts an individual to know of his state of isolation and motivates them to seek social connections, then can’t we see traces of positive elements in it? It motivates us to seek social connection. Loneliness is about the isolation and the motivation to go into a company. So I ask, if men were not to be lonely, would they seek social connections. And I think this is why God created loneliness within us. One Russian author, Catherine de Hueck Doherty tackles loneliness as a gift from God in her book “In the Footprints of Loneliness.” God made it. But we can go further to explain that because God made man together with this and other emotions, it is good to be “lonely” since everything God made is accepted to be good. So loneliness is also good just like the other emotions we try to attach ourselves to (love, happiness, togetherness, sorrowfulness, etc.). Loneliness is good.

According to the Christian teachings, he became lonely because he has been separated from God, from what gave him companionship in totality. And so in his loneliness which resulted from the separation from God, man craves to go back into union with Him. It is loneliness from its own nature that creates in man the desire to be in a union. It out of this gift of loneliness in the heart of man that religions exist. The loneliness in the heart of man pressures on him the need to look and get closer to a being higher than him; a deity. God has created in us loneliness so that we might seek beyond our communities to really enter into his plan for us. This is the better side of loneliness! Loneliness pressuring man to get close to a higher entity -Religions.

There are many kinds of loneliness in the world and I do not have the courage to distinguish all of them because I might leave yours out. We lump them all under one word, and call it loneliness. And yet there is the need to differentiate. There is the one that seeks into God of which I talked about already. The one that looks for Companionship of human beings (someone to share fun with, someone to share thoughts and even pains with). This is the normal type and it is killed by normal friendships. Then, there is the kind begotten by machines (televisions, computers and others). This is common in the Western world and in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Nairobi and Abuja. You know it, I mean in our big cities. Everyone bears his cross of loneliness. The city of loneliness is the city of joy. Walk down with me to the end of my words and you will know of more this. The loneliness of our world is intensifying as we journey into modernity. And because it has become a sickness in our world today, there are some remedies for it just as drinking a lot of water, especially in harmattan remedies the dehydration the season causes to our bodies. In our quest to counteract our state of loneliness we get into friendships to dispel it, we forgive others to kill it and we love God and man to be in communion with one another.

The biggest enemy of loneliness is communication. When loneliness invades our hearts it motivates us to reach out to others in communication. Loneliness then forces people to love and accept others as they are, even their enemies. This is because by its own nature, it reveals the state of isolation of an individual and then encourages them to get to others making loneliness a “catalyst” which forges separate hearts into one. This is the better side I want the world to look at. The motivation it gives us to commune with others.

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Loneliness is a midwife to creativity. By its nature and existence in us which turns us into prisoners of pain or psychological traumas, we do things that open our souls in our quest to conquer it. Loneliness plays an important role in the creative process. In some people, temporary or prolonged loneliness can lead to notable artistic and creative expression, for example, as was the case with poet Emily Dickinson, and numerous musicians, of which even this article also comes from. This is not to imply that loneliness itself ensures this creativity, rather, it may have an influence on the subject matter of the artist and more likely be present in individuals engaged in creative activities. Most of our talents such as painting, writing a book, reading a book and reasoning are discovered or mostly achieved when we are lonely. Loneliness then teaches one a lot of things. And it is an undeniable fact that most of the good books or stories you’ve ever read were written by their writers when they were lonely not just alone. Loneliness makes everybody your brother and sister, Because of the space it creates in our hearts. When it comes to meditations, loneliness is a thing to talk of. For meditations are done when one goes into himself/herself. Whether in public or private. Loneliness can have positive effects on individuals. One study found that although time spent alone tended to depress a person’s mood and increase feelings of loneliness, it also helped to improve their cognitive state, such as improving concentration. Furthermore, once the alone time was over, people’s moods tended to increase significantly. Loneliness is also associated with other positive growth experiences too, religious experiences, and identity building such as solitary quests used in rites (religious monks). Growth in the spiritual life of religious people goes with this. Loneliness is therefore a subjective experience. If a person thinks they are lonely, then they are lonely. People can be lonely while in solitude, or in the middle of a crowd. What makes a person lonely is the fact that they need more social interaction or a certain type of social interaction that is not currently available. A person can be in the middle of a party and feel lonely due to not talking to enough people.

Conversely, one can be alone and not feel lonely; even though there is no one around that person is not lonely because there is no desire for social interaction. Loneliness as a human condition. The existentialist school of thought views loneliness as the essence of being human. Each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life as a separate person, and ultimately dies alone. Coping with this, accepting it, and learning how to direct our own lives with some degree of grace and satisfaction is the human condition. Loneliness is then the true reflection of our nature of being born alone. In conclusion, loneliness though a social pain and also a psychological mechanism is that which motivates one to seek social connections. Loneliness brings out the best in us especially when it comes to creativity. Never hate to be lonely for it brings that which hides in you as you try to kill it.

Written by Akakpo Elikem (Airlly Heritages ™) [elikem997@gmail.com]

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Joseph 'Aqweci' Ofori

Joseph 'Aqweci' Ofori is the founder of SteezeHub, a Medical Laboratory Scientist, a writer and blogger. He is filled with immeasurable amount of passion for innovation and creativity. He loves music with his all. Connect with him via Twitter (http://www.steezehub.com/aqweci)

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