On dealing with loneliness

  • There is a great distinction between being alone and loneliness.

  • We can be lonely even when we are in a room full of people. If the room is full of people who lack virtues or at the least an appreciation for it.

  • We are lonely when we are helpless, when we don't have anyone to repose on when we are in trouble, in grief or suffering from a vice like anger or envy.

  • That is why we feel lonely when we loose a loved one, a friend, wife, mother or son. We were used to relying on them in times of need.

  • One is not lonely when one is surrounded by virtue, even when one is completely alone. One's own virtues or virtues of a wise friend. We are alone when we are inflicted with vices or are surrounded by misguided people.

"Hence, in a journey especially, we call ourselves solitary when we fall among thieves; for it is not the sight of a man that removes our solitude, but of an honest man, a man of honor, and a helpful companion." - Epictetus

  • A philosopher practices to be independent. A philosopher can converse with himself. There is a lot to converse about after all! He talks to himself about -

    • How he would cure his vices?
    • How he will gain more virtues?
    • How he will be of service to others?
  • A philosopher needs no one to repose to in times of trouble except for philosophy.

  • So being alone is a gift, we just don't realize it. But -

    "Every gift is dangerous to a beginner" - Epictetus.

  • Like a stoic practices poverty , we should also practice being alone. To get used to it, it make it less scary and dangerous to us.

  • We should practice being our own best companion, adviser and protector. And devote what is left in us to advise and protect others.


Also read related notes -

On seeking approval of others

On dealing with fear