Solitaire: Games You Can’t Win

No. This post isn’t about a tabletop game.

It’s about loneliness.

There’s a quote by Dr. Seuss in Oh, The Places You’ll Go! that inspired this. I’ve been reading it a lot to my daughter lately.

I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.

Winning against yourself is nigh impossible. What I’m trying to do to combat this is understand myself and reach out more.

Understanding Myself

Jung, the legendary psychologist, said:

“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.”

I’ve struggled with loneliness most of my life. I have never felt like I fit in anywhere. I have always struggled with feeling unloveable.

I assumed becoming married would be the end of loneliness. It hasn’t. Just like we need a village to raise a child, I hold that we need more than romance in life – we need community – different types of relationships to be fulfilled.

I know now feeling alone and unloved are the hallmarks of my personality. I feel separated from other people because I’m not like most people and they have a hard time understanding me.

As an INFJ in the Meyers-Briggs scale, I am about 2% of the population. I have the personality that understands other people the best while simultaneously being the most difficult to understand.

As a Type 2 on the Enneagram Personality Chart, My inner mantra is “I am unlovable therefore I must make myself loveable”. Again this personality type is rare. I think it’s also about 2% of people.

Those were hard words to admit. When I read those words for the first time, it was tough to swallow but I knew they were true the instant I read them.

Understanding my Enneagram type has deeply helped me understand myself and combat my flaws.

If you’re interested in finding your Enneagram type, click here for a very informative article.

Writing gives me a way to communicate my innermost thoughts in a way that feels safe. Especially if someone I love discusses my work with me later.

Reach Out More

Sometimes I lean too heavily on certain people. Other times I am caught in a self-destructive feedback loop of doubts and negativity.

My current situation is very isolating. It’s something I had wanted to avoid for my mental health, but as with most things that I made a note about hating the idea of … it came to pass. I repeat tasks endlessly with no progress and have little interaction with others. What interaction I do have tends to be negative.

Right now I have three outstanding unanswered messages. I wanted to reply, but became anxious and then got busy and forgot. Now that I’ve discovered this, its been eating at me. I still can’t bring myself to do it because of the whole paralyzing anxiety thing.

I know reaching out to them is something I need to do, but it’s hard. On the other hand, even though I am painfully shy there are times when talking with people I don’t know can really help.

Interacting with different people can bring new clarity to a situation that I didn’t even discuss with them. It’s so odd how just having a conversation about something else can change my perspective. There was an article I read a while back that said talking to strangers is more likely to boost your perspective – 10 Reasons You Should Talk to Strangers. As an introvert this is exhausting if not almost painful for me. I can only handle small doses.

At the same time, talking to people you don’t normally see can be helpful. My cousin said a phrase the other day – “fighting to forgive”. That struck me. I’ll probably write a post about it down the road. If I hadn’t left my home, I would not have heard it.

Last Thoughts

In the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium he talks about the differences between more traditional agrarian, subsistence societies and the modern world. He posits that while we are more able to connect than ever, we are also more isolated.

We don’t need others for our immediate survival as much as before, so now we let slide those bonds that enriched the lives before us. In the age of globalization we have become more isolated with confirmation bias, sameness, and metered interactions on social media.

Speaking of social media, on Twitter I saw a thread recently about food drives and how something people often don’t think of is instant coffee. Instant coffee can let someone invite people over for coffee, so they recommended this especially when thinking of the elderly. I know this seems unrelated, but bear with me.

In the past my husband and I have volunteered on Thanksgiving mornings at The Community Table. I found that very fulfilling. On one such morning I kept company with an older man I didn’t know well but had met previously. He occasionally goes to the UU and we’ve had a few conversations. I was able to listen to him and it was good for both of us, I believe.

I won’t be able to volunteer in that capacity anytime soon. If you’re able to, I applaud and encourage you.

In the meantime, I think I’ll have to give back in a different way. I may not be able to give someone company on Thanksgiving, but maybe I can give them the opportunity to have someone over for coffee.

For ideas about giving back, I found this article inspiring and this one too.

What do you do to feel connected to others?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. alicegristle says:

    Mm. I find the idea of fighting or competing with oneself increasingly strange these days. I know it’s bandied about a lot, in tired phrases like, “You’re only in competition with yourself.” They’re meant as encouraging but seem to miss the point. I mean, shouldn’t we be friends with ourselves, instead?

    I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but even so, how many of us actually hate ourselves? Few of us are willing to admit it, so I’ll go ahead and say it: I really despise myself some of the time.

    Self-loathing is a different creature from loneliness, but I think these darker animals of the mind are connected in kinship. And talking with strangers is just as much antidote (well, can be) for self-loathing as for loneliness. I didn’t actually realise it until I read your post, Melissa. So thanks for parting my blind eyes for a moment. 🙂

    I admit that talking to imaginary people has helped me a lot over the years, a practice I also call “writing”. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree we should be friends with ourselves. I will definitely admit I have too much self-loathing going on. I’m not good at being a friend to myself either! My internal monologue is often unkind and unforgiving- far more rude than I would be to other people.

      Writing fiction definitely can give me perspective. Writing prose tends to be less helpful. I wonder if the act of developing a theory around how the imaginary person would respond is enough to give that additional perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. alicegristle says:

        Aw, hang in there! Improving your internal monologue can be tough, but it’s certainly a goal worth seeking. Are you, um, do you think you’d find help in a self-help book? Because I know of one that might be suitable for you. (If you’re the type who would go for a book. I know not everybody is.)

        Not sure, but that could definitely be it! It certainly helps me to get out of the confines of my own skull… so to speak. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’d love to hear your book suggestion!


      3. alicegristle says:

        Okay, let me skip over to my bookcase… Right, it’s Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It’s pretty heavy on buddhism, and has a bunch of meditation exercises, but it’s Christian-compatible, I think. If such things even matter to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That sounds great. Thank you! I’m a humanist that can appreciate most religious overtones in some capacity, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As of me, if we get trained to become friendly with our own inner self…it would make our job easier to be friendly with others….difficult to implement yet effective once used to it..

    Liked by 1 person

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