Loneliness is something we can experience even when we are among other people. While dealing with feelings such as loneliness, we can be destructive in our behaviour, destroying ourselves and destroying others around us. We can also discover healthy ways of dealing with loneliness.
Why does loneliness occur?
All of us have a little child in us that thrives on what Eric Berne calls “strokes”. These strokes are the basic units of Human recognition. Everyone needs strokes. Exchange of strokes in the form of stimulation, love, affection, touch, recognition, appreciation are the fuel for survival. If a new born baby is given the best of medical care but deprived of human stimulation, touch and hugging, the baby will shrivel up and die (proven fact).
Hunger for strokes is as basic as hunger for food. Giving and taking strokes ought to be among the easiest activities in our daily life just as we eat food. However just as the economy and society creates a scarcity of food, there is a scarcity of strokes too resulting in what Claude Steiner calls “stroke economy”. The stroke economy is a result of us being forced to hold back while giving and taking strokes. This holding back is caused by what we are told since childhood and what the society around us makes us do. We all therefore follow these rules of ‘stroke economy’ :
- Don’t give strokes you would like to give.
- Don’t ask for strokes you would like to get.
- Don’t accept strokes you would like to accept.
- Don’t reject strokes you don’t want.
- Don’t give yourself strokes
These rules prevent the free exchange of strokes and stroke starved people feel lonely, deprived, desperate or they shrivel up and die.
There are healthy and harmful ways of dealing with stroke hunger or stroke starvation. Just as the two year old child breaks things for mommy’s attention, we seek strokes in more and more harmful ways. Even a slap from mommy would fulfil the stroke hunger for the two year old child for a while. Eventually the harmful ways of seeking strokes become habitual to people who know no other way of feeding stroke hunger. Many harmful behaviour in people can be traced easily back to stroke starvation and harmful ways of seeking strokes.
My next post will explore the healthy ways of dealing with lonleiness.
To read more about the stroke economy by Claude Steiner click on http://www.emotional-literacy.com/economy.htm
I recommend particularly the delightful short story by Claude The Warm Fuzzy Tale to understand how harmful or healthy ways of seeking and giving strokes can become a part of our behaviour.
Some reader of the post “It’s a lonely world” wanted to know how to deal with loneliness. The answer lies in the post itself but let me repeat. Loneliness is caused by “stroke deprivation”.
‘Strokes” are the basic units of Human recognition. Everyone needs strokes. Exchange of strokes in the form of stimulation, love, affection, touch, recognition, appreciation are the fuel for survival. To allow free exchange of strokes the following rules need to be applied:
- Give strokes you would like to give.
- Ask for strokes you would like to get.
- Accept strokes you would like to accept.
- Reject strokes you don’t want.
- Give yourself strokes
I will expand on how we me may do this one by one if there is any request.