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Dealing with loneliness: But how do we love ourselves if we have never been loved? How do I take the first step to deal with loneliness? By learning to love. But first we must examine the paradox to love. When we are lonely, we feel like we are in an unbearable prison. By its very nature of loneliness is just like the stomach ache - the attention centers only on ourselves. So we try and fill this emptiness by finding others who will give us that very love we need.
People often try to do things for others to gain their love. They barter trade favors with each other thinking that they are loving people. We know that our loneliness can only be filled by the love of others and therefore we must feel loved by others.
The paradox of love is this: If we seek to fill the void of our own loneliness in seeking love from others, we will inevitably find no consolation but only a deeper desolation. In other words, if we seek the love that we need, we will never find it. When a person orients his life towards the satisfaction of his own needs, when he goes out to seek the love which he needs, he is basically self-centered, no matter how pitiful he is. As long as he focuses on himself, his ability to love will always remain stunted.
What is the solution then? If a person seeks not to receive love, but rather to give it without strings attached, he will become lovable and he will most certainly be loved by others in the end. We must stop being concerned with ourselves and begin to be concerned with others.
Beginning with the end in mind - which focuses the results of the act of love others without concerned with self-gain, is the first step to gaining love and easing the pain of loneliness. Every single person on earth has some capacity to love.
We all have some ability to focus the attention off ourselves to the needs and concern of others. It is the extent that we are willing to give, are we able to receive that amount of love from others. Deciding to love others with no strings attached is like a donation (we don’t expect anything in return, not even a satisfied ego or relieved guilt), not a barter trade.
When we ask others, “What have you done for me?” we have failed to love. Even if at the beginning you are only able to love little, you will be loved little. That very love will empower you to grow and produce more love and in return receive greater love from others. But always remember that in making this self-donation or self-sacrifice, our minds must always be focused away from ourselves or it wouldn’t work.