I’ve had this quote lying around in my quotes collection for quite some time. I felt that it is true, but I couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe why I felt that way.
“Remember: The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” (Douglas Coupland, novelist)
Then it dawned upon me that I have written about why this true several times. It involves liking yourself and being comfortable with who you are. Feeling lonely is mostly about not having someone else there to affirm and validate who you are and that is based upon doubts that you may have about yourself. Sometimes those doubts are based upon the inability to forgive yourself for a mistake in judgement or actions. I’ve posted here a few times about forgiving yourself. Most of the time forgiving yourself involves accepting that God forgives you first. You really don’t need the reassurance of others to validate yourself. You can self-validate and indeed you must; but first, you must be able to accept God’s forgiveness and then forgive yourself.
Once you accept and become comfortable with who you are you will notice that is literally impossible to become lonely, since there are several billion other people walking the earth with you. Your interactions with those that you encounter will no longer involve using them to validate yourself; but, rather, sharing life experiences with them and, by sharing, enriching your life and theirs. You don’t need them to make you feel better about yourself, but by sharing time and experiences with them you both will feel better about life and yourselves.
There is a famous business book by Antony Thomas Harris titled “I’m OK – You’re OK” that deals with how to interact with people with different personality types. The key to using these techniques in business or in life lies in that first part “I’m OK”. You have to understand and be OK (comfortable) with who you are before you can move on to dealing with someone else.
So, maybe Coupland is correct. When we feel lonely, we need to be alone so that we can get right with God and ourselves, forgive ourselves if necessary, validate ourselves and get back to the point of feeling that “I’m OK”. If you can get there, the lonely part will take care on itself.
Hey, “you’re OK”, too.