On most days I hear at least one person say that they feel alone, that no one truly understands them or their situation, or that they feel "different" from others. How is it that so many people feel the same way, yet so many people feel alone? It's a paradox of being human.
It is impossible for any of us to experience exactly what another person experiences. Paths may cross, but each of us walks alone on our unique life journey. We can only try to imagine what another person's life is like. We can be close, but we can never be inside another person's mind, and no one will ever join us in ours. Being alone in our very own mind, body, perceptions, interpretations, and inner world is paradoxically, a shared experience. We are each alone in our personal experiences of living, but we are all on a solitary journey, together.
Thankfully, we have the ability to turn our attention to thoughts that help us feel connected if we choose to. If we look for similarities with others, we will find them. We can mindfully note our thoughts, to notice thoughts of comparison, judgment, or criticism towards ourselves and others, and then purposefully shift our focus to curiosity, acceptance, and empathy. We can recognize differences as being just part of the picture, putting them in the perspective of being a reflection of our uniqueness, instead of putting up walls.
Recognizing our mutual human experience of being alone can conversely allow us to tune in to common humanity. We can decrease judgment of others and of ourselves. We can let go of both blame and guilt. We can be forgiving, compassionate, and self-compassionate. There is no reason to bring ourselves or others down, because despite our differences, we are all in this personhood thing, together.