Technology has made us more “connected” than ever, but the problem of loneliness still exists. In fact, loneliness is considered an epidemic. When we are lonely, it cannot simply be solved by a text message or a pill; it can only be truly solved by human interaction– something that is increasingly challenging to fulfill for many people in today’s world. In today’s world of polarization political strife we have become socially isolated from our friends and families and many of us are living with a hollow feeling inside.
Confusion lies in the illusion of what loneliness “is” and “is not.” Being connected through social media does not have the same impact as a face-to-face interaction. The problem is that this type of connection is different from authentic and intimate interconnectedness, which is what makes us thrive as humans. It’s through the experience of being close that we escape loneliness and move out of isolation.
Too many people have grown familiar with that hollow feeling inside of them– that lack of fulfillment– about how their life feels to them. Something is not clicking, but what? These inexplicable voids are often an indicator of loneliness.
Here are 3 insights to help you see why loneliness is both misunderstood, and a very challenging emotional state to live in.
We are often our own biggest obstacle that can stand between us and dealing with loneliness. It’s easy to be quick to judge or to not allow people a chance to hold a meaningful place in our lives. Yes, sometimes there may be justifiable reasons for this, but oftentimes, our judgments act as armor that disconnects and distances us from the close connections we need and crave in order to thrive and flourish.
Think about where you spend the most time, and evaluate the quality of those relationships. If you work a lot, take time to solidify relationships with your peers. If you meet people, ask questions and learn about them and begin to engage. These types of actions are all beneficial in warding off loneliness and developing interconnectedness. Start small by being curious. Trust can and should be slow to build based upon proof that the other person is worthy of the risk, and hence the reward.
The term “loneliness” seems easy to understand, but it is more involved, which generates confusion at times. If someone says they are lonely, their good intentioned friends and family often suggest staying busy, meeting people, or just getting out there and doing something. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the problem of loneliness; it’s more a prescription to diminish isolation.
There are many people who are always active and busy, constantly surrounded by others, but they are still lonely. It’s not the number of relationships we have that prevents loneliness, but the quality of the ones we choose and nurture. Additionally, some people can spend much of their time alone and not be lonely.
Kira Asatryan, author of Stop Being Lonely, appeared on my podcast, Harvesting Happiness, and shared:
We can only have five people close to our heart, at most. There are quite a number of people with one close person to their heart and they don’t feel lonely. More is not always better…One of the things that plagues us is that we turn to romantic relationships for this feeling of closeness, feeling that a spouse should be the number one close person. This is true for most, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s important to be mindful that romantic closeness is not the only way to stop loneliness. People can be single and not lonely, just as people can be married and have the same hollow feeling.
There was a study posted in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science which stated that the subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26% (i). This reveals that our bodies cannot sustain loneliness and maintain good health. Emotional suffering is linked to the type of pain that is similar to that which physically debilitates us. The most common side effects of loneliness include a lesser sense of well-being, depression, and also lower levels of immunity.
With so many people dealing with loneliness and its significance in so many of our lives today there is an imperative call to action to actively engage in activities that promote authentic connections. By participating in simple prosocial behaviors like having a heartfelt conversation, we feed our bodies, minds, and spirits the antidote for loneliness and isolation.
i. Chronic Loneliness is a Modern Day Epidemic. Entis, Laura. June 22, 2016. http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/loneliness-is-a-modern-day-epidemic.
Lisa Cypers Kamen is a lifestyle management consultant who explores the art and science of happiness in her work as a speaker, author, and happiness expert. Through her globally syndicated positive psychology podcast, books, media appearances, and documentary film, Kamen has impacted millions of people around the world.
Our communications do not constitute mental health treatment nor is it indicative of a private therapeutic relationship.
Individuals seeking help for trauma related issues or other psychological concerns should seek out a mental health professional.
© 2010-2023 Harvesting Happiness
Website Design by Nadia Mousa