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Have You Ever Been Lonely?

Richard Andrew Kowaleski teaches critical thinking at California State University, Sacramento for their Renaissance Society. He previously taught engineering and mathematics at Sac State and the United States Air Force Academy.

Have you ever been blue? Have you ever liked someone who did not like you? That feeling of sadness can be overwhelming.

We yearn for someone to share our lives, yet family and friends do not keep in touch. We reach out to others and are politely, or not, disregarded.

What are we to do?

The cure for loneliness is not, as many believe, companionship. We can feel lonely in a crowd, or even with someone we love if we do not feel loved in return. Rather, our loneliness vanishes when we learn how to be happy alone.

How do we do that? By first liking, then loving who we are. When we believe that we are worthy human beings, with purpose in our lives, we project an aura that attracts others to us. Lonely people crave companionship, not understanding that they project a neediness that others find unappealing. It is impossible to truly love another if we do not first love ourselves.

Why can it be so difficult to love ourselves? Because—we see not our strengths, but our weaknesses. We compare ourselves to others unfavorably. We judge ourselves so harshly that we become judgmental about others, repelling them from us.












Essentially, our lack of self-love reflects our low self-esteem, which psychologists say can be very difficult to overcome if we are not willing to seek professional counsel, and even then we need to heed that counsel and stick to a plan that gradually allows us to see ourselves differently. It takes time to re-wire our brains to believe that we have much to offer others.

In fact, a sure-fire way to improve our self-esteem is to become a volunteer. When we help others we are doubly rewarded. We can feel good that another person was helped and we can feel even better that we did the helping!

When we start receiving thanks from those we helped, and compliments from leaders who appreciate our efforts, then we begin to realize that we are decent human beings, with useful talents and compassion for the less fortunate.

We then project this new "us" for the world to see, and we become more attractive to others in the broadest sense—and we no longer associate being alone with being lonely. We can enjoy solitude without judgment. We are lonely no more. We have become happy with who we are.

~ Richard Andrew Kowaleski
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