Loneliness is very present in everyone’s life. In this short article, you have the difference between existential loneliness (a healthy one) and loneliness anxiety (characterized by the great fear of abandonment), from one of the books of David Schnarch. In the sequence, Parker Palmer explains that loneliness can be a place of truth-telling, where joy meets struggle.
Let’s start with Schnarch (1997) explain that “loneliness is a basic condition for our existence. It’s part of understanding and appreciating intimacy and, when correctly handled, deepens and extends our humanity. Moustakas writes:
“To love is to be lonely. Every love is broken in illness, separation, or death. The exquisite nature of love, the unique quality or dimension in its highest peak, is threatened by change and termination, and by the fact that the loved one does not always feel or know or understand. In the absence of the loved one, in solitude and loneliness, a new self emerges, in solitary thought. The loneliness quickens love and brings to it new perceptions and sensitivities, and new experiences of mutual depth and beauty”.
"What Ernest Becker labeled heroism Moustakas calls courage and hope:“It is not loneliness that separates the person from others but the terror of loneliness and the constant effort to escape it. We must learn to care for our own loneliness and suffering and the loneliness and suffering of others, for within pain and isolation and loneliness one can find courage and hope and what is brave and lovely and true in life. Serving loneliness is a way to self-identity and to love and faith in the wonder of living” ( cited in Schnarch, 1997, p. 402-403).
The second half of life or the Authentic Journey is not an easy one. It is a lonely journey where joy meets struggle and have a conversation with existential loneliness. It is the place where a man may learn “how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of his longing”, as David Whyte puts so well.
It is a journey where one stops, see what there is to see and tell each other what they are seeing with attention and with a powerful curiosity. The kind that brings life to its highest potential. In this case, loneliness becomes a potent ingredient on the Deeper Journey.
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"Moustakas says that we confuse existential loneliness and loneliness anxiety. Loneliness anxiety is our common but unnecessary fear of being alone, our normal neurosis, our alienation from ourselves. It surfaces in the pervasive “never be lonely” themes in modern society and what we now call “fears of abandonment.” Existential loneliness is an inevitable part of being human. We can erase loneliness anxiety and ease existential loneliness by becoming more differentiated, but the fundamental loneliness of being human isn’t something you transcend entirely (unless you achieve a profound level of enlightenment). We don’t “defeat” existential separateness - we simply see it rightfully as part of a larger whole".
Felipe Oliveira provides counselling for men facing challenges in life.
To read about The Ecology of Life & Depression, click here.
To read about The Benefit of an Addiction, click here.
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6 min. video explaining the 2nd half of life of the Authentic Male Journey.
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Schnarch, D. (1997). Passionate Marriage: Keeping love & Intimacy Live in Committed Relationships. Owl Books. New York.
Counselling to deal with loneliness in a positive and constructive way. Click here to know more about Felipe Oliveira's work as a counsellor. Or, please, continue reading this short article about the loneliness and its benefits.
Blog for Men
Parker Palmer recently wrote a short essay called “Hope is the place where Joy meets the struggle”. In this writing he recites what Victoria Safford said about hope, and the main part is that we can find hope in a “very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see”.