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Defeating Loneliness

Yakunchikova Fear

Maria Yakunchikova “Fear” 1893-95

Human beings often make assumptions on a very primitive level in order to defend ourselves. Our brains are designed to warn us when our bodies are in danger. However, when our food is in good supply, our climate controlled enclosures engineer our living spaces from the natural environment, we are vaccinated from disease, and we are not in much danger from wild animals, the natural use for fear and assumptions gets misdirected.

Where does our natural, life-saving fear go? It becomes an unnatural response to things we think might put us in danger but really do not. Our instincts go a little haywire and emotions that are there to signal trouble go amuck. Fear is a liability rather than an asset. We protect ourselves against things that we really have no need to fear.

One fear I have always had was that of being accepted by other people. This comes from a childhood of feeling somehow disconnected from social groups of my peers. When we brush up against other people and get hurt by the friction or the shocks sent intentionally at us, we lose trust in relationships to sustain us. That can be considered a natural defense mechanism. Fear of others is a psychological reaction to present circumstances via past experience. We don’t want to be hurt again, so we cordon off those intimate places in our psyche. This leads to secrets and a propensity to avoid too much human contact.

The problem is that we are human beings. We are not designed at a primitive level to be alone. The writer of Genesis knew that and throughout centuries of philosophical, religious, and psychological thought it is clear that loneliness is not really a good thing. In our modern age the desire to be totally alone may be considered a psychosis.

So what happens? If the only solution to being lonely is to be with others yet our instinct has been conditioned to ward off the presence of others, it’s a serious bind that often collapses into depression and even anger. We can resent the fact that others are separate from us even though our reaction to others is the reason they are at such a distance.

Perhaps the only solution is to be honest with ourselves and others to let them know what we are feeling. It’s a leap of faith. It is facing fear right at its source and asking others to help redirect it. The help of others can help siphon it off into the atmosphere where it is no longer a threat. Once the energy that holds us back is dissipated and the walls are down being by ourselves is no longer a burden and being with others is a joy.

None of this is easy, but it seems necessary to living a happy life. What are your fears of others? What are you assuming about others that might be untrue and holding you back from making relationships work today? How does your past infiltrate your present in such a way that you can’t enjoy it for what it is?

About Andrew Tatusko

Secularization, critical pedagogy, sometimes agnostic, politics, and a ton of running. Penn State is definitely not responsible for what I say.


One thought on “Defeating Loneliness

  1. Reblogged this on Cloaked Monk's Blog and commented:
    Community, community, community…

    Posted by cloakedmonk | May 26, 2012, 4:33 PM

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