Loneliness Can Be Everywhere: Disconnection, Frustration, And The Need To Move Forward
Leadership Lesson: Realize the disconnection and frustration loneliness might truly present and that you need to make sure you’re searching for ways to express yourself and your needs, in your personal life as well as your professional endeavors.
“Loneliness does not come from
having no people about one,
but from being unable to communicate
the things that seem important to oneself,
or from holding certain views
which others find inadmissible.”
― Carl Gustav Jung
I came across the quote above recently, and it stood out in how we define, interpret, and understand loneliness.
It speaks to the general loneliness each of us can feel from time to time. We can read its words and analyze their meaning as it applies to our idea of and experiences with loneliness. In its brevity, it works to break down and explain what most people may truly feel in loneliness – the frustration that comes with not being able to express oneself.
And this interpretation can also work for the workplace and organizational environment.
Yes. I know. Leave it to me to come across an idea in one world or area and find a way to have it speak to the workplace as well. I can’t help it. That’s the way I work. I’ve seen leadership lessons at the highest levels of organizations be mirrored in the interactions I see between toddlers when I pick my kid up from daycare. Existing at different levels, and with varying circumstances, human nature is everywhere – and therefore, by default, so are leadership lessons. The lessons are everywhere. I swear.
In any case, let me break this one down.
In general — and for obvious reasons — it’s pretty common for us to automatically associate the word loneliness with the word alone. Because of that, many people may think loneliness exists when one is alone, or by themselves, with no one else around them with whom to socialize, interact, or share who they are.
But loneliness, in general, if one understands it and tries to break it down, isn’t solely limited to or reflected in how many people you have around you. Think about it: You can be surrounded by a multitude of people regularly and still feel loneliness.
Loneliness is more about communication of ideas and emotions — or lack thereof — than the presence of people and coworkers. It’s about expression. It’s about deep-rooted, genuine, and, hopefully, realized fulfillment.
Within loneliness, regardless of what’s going on and who’s around, you feel as if you’re not truly connecting with what’s playing out in front of you.
Hence, with loneliness in the personal life, you may be missing out on a certain connection you want to make but can’t find.
Loneliness really is more about frustration with not being able to connect than anything — or anyone — else.
So the first part of the quote breaks down and makes it very clear that loneliness has nothing to do with the number of others around us.
Ok, that’s out of the way.
So now that we’ve broken down that parallel of loneliness and frustration, the second part of the quote, broken into the two ideas below, gets into sources of the frustration one feels, stemming from the real reasons for loneliness.
…being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself…
Not being able to connect leads to the inability to express oneself. When someone can’t express who and what they are, they neither feel fulfillment in nor commitment to their surrounding environment. But they interpret that as loneliness, or a solitude, when it’s really frustration in most cases.
Happiness and fulfillment, in most cases, can’t happen without some form of expression – getting something out of yourself, be it a skill, an emotion, or a belief. It’s the satisfaction that you were able to share something, build something, or contribute to something, be it something tangible or something as simple as a moment.
And it’s one thing to not have a platform to communicate – the case in this first scenario — but it’s another entirely to feel as if one shouldn’t communicate. This leads to the second point.
…or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.
Feeling as if one shouldn’t come forward with what and who they are, or what they believe, takes an even greater toll than the first point above.
It’s one thing to not have the outlet to express one’s beliefs and desires, but it’s another obstacle completely to have an outlet but feel – or be made to feel – as if no contribution is needed, or that any contribution might actually be looked down upon.
Whether it’s that lack of outlet in the former scenario or the lack of support that makes up the latter, both instances can be crippling and feel isolating.
So if you feel some sense of loneliness at work, in your career, or even at home, what steps are you taking to make sure you understand why?
And, actually, how might you be looking out for others who may feel this way, even if you don’t?
Again, these aren’t meant for consideration in instances where one is alone – although there should be a plan of action if one is and feels alone — but more about the situations in which someone feels loneliness despite being surrounded by a community of some sort.
If it is a lack of ability to communicate, what are you doing about it? Are you trying? Are you making suggestions for initiating a system of communication, or improving what’s already there?
Don’t let yourself wallow in silence, especially if you have something to express which can improve the environment along with the quality of the experience of those in the group, team, or community, and yourself.
On the flipside, if it’s a feeling that you can’t express yourself – that, yes, there is a means to communicate, but someone is making you feel like you shouldn’t, or aren’t welcome – how are you resolving this one? Are you in the right position and/or community for you? How have you tried to express your desires? Feeling like you shouldn’t express yourself to the outside will break you down on the inside. You’re using energy you could be using to build something to defend yourself against such feelings of disconnection, or even worthlessness.
When it comes to loneliness, always consider whether it is that you are alone, with no one else around, or that you feel disconnection from those who are around. Again, each has its own path to resolution.
How will you tackle these situations in which you feel others don’t see what you’re capable of expressing?
Many of us may feel too complacent to explore and find new environments and groups to satisfy that need for true connection. But we have to.
Get to where you are welcomed, feel comfortable, and can express who you really are. If not, the only one who suffers is you.