Ironic it is that I choose to write about silence when there are crackers bursting all around me. But it is in the midst of chaos that we crave for method and it is in all this noise that we appreciate the sound of silence.

If I were to ask you what your greatest fear is, what would you say? If you were faced by a boggart from Harry Potter what form would it take? Most of us would probably fear being lonely the most. To be away from our loved ones or those who comfort us is a very scary thought.

Man is essentially a social animal. We need people around us no matter how annoying they are. Isolation and solitary confinement are used as punishment and are known causes of depression. A house full of people chattering away noisily, kids laughing and women giggling is how we picture a happy family.

But can we be happy only when we are around people? How would we fare if we are to stay alone for a while. I know this idea may appeal to many, especially to harassed mothers but most of us are not comfortable with it for an extended period of time.

We fear being alone because we are scared of loneliness. What we fail to realize is that being alone and being lonely are two different things all together. People suffering from loneliness often complain of feeling lonely even when surrounded by people they love. One of my all time favourite gazals aptly puts it as

“Dekhiye to lagata hai ek bheed chalti hai,

Sochiye to lagta hai bheed mein hai sab tanha…”

(When you see you see a crowd, but if you think everyone in that crowd is lonely)

 Simply put it means that what we see is very different from what reality is. A lot of people envy others who they perceive as surrounded by loved ones. Nobody ever peeked into their minds and saw them being jealous of us for the same reason.

Why are we so scared of being lonely? I have seen many people stay in abusive or non- fulfilling relationships just because they are scared of being ‘alone’ or lonely.

Since childhood we have grown up on this romantic concept of ‘someone somewhere is made for us’  or that we are a part of the jig-saw puzzle called family and we need to fit in to feel whole. I do not deny the need or even the importance of a partner or a family. My point is an incomplete part can not complete the whole. A broken jig-saw piece will leave gaps in the puzzle.

A person who is not comfortable within himself/herself can’t provide support to others. Why are we so scared of being with ourselves? Whenever we are alone we need to have gadgets or books or music around us to keep us distracted. Why do we run away from being alone with our thoughts?

So how do we become comfortable with being with ourselves? Let us try some simple tips.

  • The Dictionary tip: Amitabh Bachchan in the 70s gave us very valuable insightEnglish is a funny language. Not just English any language for that matter assigns different meanings to similar words. The first step is to accept that ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’ are two such words. You can’t say “Leave me lonely!” instead of “Leave me alone!”, right? Then why assume that they mean the same things. A person who is alone is not necessary lonely, a person who is alone is not necessarily alone. Being alone at times is beneficial to your physical and mental health. Try spending time with yourself. And by yourself I don’t mean with your gadgets. I have seen people getting restless in waiting rooms if they don’t have any ‘distractions’. Why do we need to have external sources of entertainment? The computer was inspired by the brain. The human brain is capable of amusing itself if you just allow it to. Sit alone, create a story, paint a picture, sing a song. Just because it is happening in your head doesn’t mean it is not real (I really need to stop reading Harry Potter)
  • The Narcissist tip: Try falling in love with yourself. If you can be a fun company to others, if you can comfort others, if you can advice others, you can do all that to yourself. Yes we all have weaknesses and we all have shortcomings. But so do our lovers and best friends. If we can put up with their annoying behaviours why can’t we put up with our own? Try going out with yourself. Have you ever eaten a meal all by yourself in a restaurant or watched a movie alone? Do it! No one to question what you order, no one to laugh at you when you cry at silly dialogues and no one to complain when you spend more on popcorn than the movie ticket. It does not mean that you have no friends it only means that you are complete within yourself.
  • The Drainage pipe tip: Have you had a chocked drainage pipe? How do you deal with it? Do you ignore it? Do you change the house because of it? No you just pass the water through it till the water pushes out the waste. Our mind is like a drainage pipe, we all have waste in our brains. Unwanted memories and thoughts which block the free flow of our thinking. Ignoring them or looking for external distraction will not help. Just allow your thoughts to flow. Let them pass. Eventually they will clean themselves out. Maybe through tears maybe through logic but they too shall pass. Once you start spending some time alone, you will appreciate the silence because in this silence will lie the solution to all your worries. All of have our most brilliant ideas in the loo don’t we?

We don’t have to fear being lonely when we learn how to be with ourselves. Sometimes all we need for peace of mind, is some alone time. Let the silence envelope you. You don’t need people to be happy or to have fun. All you need is imagination and a little someone called you.

Why search for peace in the sounds of noise

If I listen in silence I will find a voice.

Listen to the sound of silence that originates within

All your answers you will find herein;

 

I will never be lonely again because I have me for company always…..

This Diwali be your own lamp, brighten your own life and see how beautiful the world looks…

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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