I’ve been thinking a lot about how to address the issue of loneliness or isolation and mindfulness.
What happens if, as a part of your mindfulness, you discover that your life is not fulfilling? That something is not in sync or that you have in some way given away an important component of yourself? This can result in a sadness or loneliness.
Getting in touch with deep loneliness or isolation can be distressing. It can stop a person in her tracks and cause her to rethink a lot of her relationships and how she is connected to others.
When I think about the issue of mindfulness I think of it as a connecting tool – helping others connect with each other or couples become more deeply acquainted with one another. But when it results in an aha insight/knowing that is painful or disturbing then I find it can be disconnecting and result in a person pulling inward or away from others.
Mindfulness is about seeing figure and ground and understanding another’s perspective, but what if through your mindfulness you discover that the other is actually not the best fit – that as you understand more fully the other or yourself, you are unable to find connecting points.
This is a distressing moment and may cause someone to pull away or to pull in – but I suggest this can be interpreted as a freeing time as well. An opportunity to reset your picture of yourself and expectation of other in relationship. Sadness may be a part of this, but strength too and alignment with yourself is also a great joy.
In observing certain people in relationship what I have discovered is that some individuals utilize mindfulness, or empathy, or seeing the other as a way to diminish their own needs – it’s a quirky co-dependence.
They deny their own needs and then give – in a way that I observe to be unconditional – but then feel lonely and isolated – not really ever connected to the other. This over time can result in resentment, anger and frustration. These feelings are confusing and the person feels misunderstood or unseen when in reality they are not showing themselves or making themselves visible. They hide their needs and rush toward understanding the other, diminishing their own self-worth, while feeling diminished by the other because the other does not see them. It’s convoluted to describe.
I perceive this as a description of confluence in boundaries. The person is able to see the other but doesn’t fully distinguish his own needs and then merges to complete himself by giving to the other. The individual is unable to see where he ends and the other begins. I observe this as an unconditional giving, in that there doesn’t appear to be conditions, but when the person feels bad about their invisibility they want to take back their kindness.
Using that same mindfulness focused on themselves to tease through the convoluted feelings will help them to see how to best care for themselves in relationship; applying the same kindness toward themselves and their own needs as they do to the other with whom they are relating.
This kind of situation may find triggers back to the person’s early childhood and how they found they needed to deny their own needs in relationship to care for a significant other/caretaker. They feel invisible because they were truly invisible to that caregiver’s psyche and their only way to be seen was to be needed. They developed their empathy and mindfulness toward the other very early in childhood, generally earlier than is expected according to the developmental structures, in order to survive in their childhood environment. They merged their boundaries with the other to have a knowing of the other’s needs and sense of self – this is the confluent boundary – but in order to do this the other’s needs took precedence over their own needs.
Their mindfulness, compassion, and empathy became second nature to them as a survival tool. What an amazing gift, yet a prison too – a habit reaction pattern developed for survival.
In order to disentangle the beautiful skill of empathy and mindfulness from the diminishing of one’s self-worth, the individual must apply the kindness he applies to others to himself. He must create a connection to his own inner being, his own needs and wants, and love himself first – creating an internal knowing/sense of visibility, before he can attain visibility in his present moment environment.
He must define where he ends and the other begins, still maintaining a caring for the other and an empathetic, mindful understanding of the other, while simultaneously keeping his needs in the discussion and in the negotiation of the relationship.
If you see yourself in this description try to develop a loving connection, and boundary to yourself and your needs so that they are definable, descriptive, visible, and real to you – then see if you can begin to have a conversation with the people in your life that really matter to you about this internal change. This will help you to create a deeply profound connection to those in your life that really matter to you.
It will also open you to a whole new level of mindfulness, compassion and understanding in your relationships. You will find that you are more free to be yourself and that you will feel a much deeper and sustaining connection in your relationships. This will go far to help you extinguish feelings of resentment, invisibility, and frustration in your relationships and it may even open up a new path of success in other areas of your life.
See you tomorrow.