Loneliness is a strong emotion and occurs within each of us at one point or another, perhaps after the passing of a spouse, moving to a new city, or starting a new job. Despite today’s society of connectedness through social media, feelings of loneliness and isolation are still felt, and many report feeling lonely despite having many friends. Loneliness at it’s core is reflective of the types of relationships and connections we have within our circle rather than the amount of friends we have in our life.
A lonely person struggles with the need for human contact but has the perception that friends and family don’t really know them or care for them. This perception of isolation and emptiness is almost a self fulfilling prophecy and further distances themselves away from others.
Try not to confuse those wanting to be alone or preferring their own company as loneliness. Loneliness is much deeper than that and lies in the belief that when we try to reach out for others, there is no one there.
What characterizes loneliness?
- Feeling that you don’t have common ground with the people around you
- Feeling abandoned or disconnected from others
- Having an emptiness you can’t seem to fill
- Having few friends you can be yourself with
- Not wanting to be alone or not being comfortable alone
- Feelings of anxiety that no one cares for you or wants to spend time with you
- Being unable to connect with anyone on either a physical or emotional level
Loneliness manifests itself in many mental and physical ways such as depression, heart disease, alcohol use, obesity, and progression of Alzheimer’s.
- Recognize there is a problem that must be met with a change.
- Improve social skills. The more you make talking with others comfortable, the easier it becomes to open up these connections.
- Engage in social activities. Find something you love to do and join a club or group that does it. Just being around others that enjoy what you do will start to change those perceptions.
- Be positive. Loneliness makes us expect the worst out of others and focuses us on the negative. We need to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and experiences.