Loneliness is More Serious Than Being Alone
When I decided to do some research on “loneliness,” I had no idea of the seriousness of the problem. In truth, I never looked at loneliness very seriously. Loneliness is a feeling that we have all felt at one time or another. It’s a fact of life, much like, getting hungry, falling in love, feeling angry, becoming sick, etc. I believed that people who were feeling lonely put themselves in that situation. It was a condition caused by one’s own free will. I never once thought lonely people were suffering from a disease.
Socialization is as Important as Food, Water and Air
Some of us need more social interaction than others, but, even loners need to have some sort of social connection to thrive. God created us to need and crave social interaction as much we need and crave food, water, oxygen, sex, etc. How much we need, varies with the individual.
Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of Others
Our self-esteem is very much tied to our social connections. We tend to believe the feedback we get from others. If we are getting the message that we are dumb, unsuccessful, ugly, etc., we believe it. If you have positive social connections that make you feel like you are a valuable person, you tend to believe it. That is when a loneliness scenario begins forming. We start believing that we are dumb, unsuccessful, ugly, or whatever, negative things people are saying about us. Then, we become withdrawn from the people. We stop trying to connect to people. We see signs of rejection everywhere. It appears like everyone is liked and has friends, but us. We don’t realize that sometimes our own behavior is making us lonely, but we don’t reach out others because we are afraid.
The Struggle to Fight Loneliness
You may try to fight this lonely feeling by going to parties or wherever there is a gathering, but unfortunately things don’t change. Sometimes, you may try to make friends but everyone seems to have settled into their own cliques and you don’t fit in. You self-evaluate and compare yourself to the people who “fit-in.” You are at a disadvantage because you are related to anyone, your job doesn’t impress anyone, you aren’t funny enough, you don’t have the “right” clothes, jewelry, car, house etc. You start to feel that “you” aren’t good enough. Before you know it, you find yourself feeling lonelier around other people than when you are alone.
Loneliness is Different Than Being Alone
We come into this world all alone and go out of it the same way. Alone! But the difference of being alone and feeling alone are very different. Take, for instance, you go to a party and you don’t hit it off with anyone, you feel lonely. Someone who delights in spending their days at home in front of a video game, computer or television may feel his or her happiest. The difference between these two people is choice. When loneliness is forced upon you, it is a different feeling than wanting to be by yourself.
A relationship with someone is built by close interaction. Taking walks together, having tea together, discussing events, telling stories, laughing, crying, and even getting angry at one another, builds true relationships. An onscreen relationship only involves two senses: sight and hearing. Touching the person, like holding hands, satisfies a human need we all have. Technology can’t meet that.
Technology Can Make Things Worse
- Feeling bullied and rejected by others. Even laughing or teasing someone could lead to isolation. There is a vast difference between laughing with someone and laughing at someone.
- Distance from family and friends. We live in a mobile society and can find ourselves far from old social connections.
- Death of someone close. We have fewer close relationships and the loss of a spouse or family member can leave many people alone.
Loneliness can affect anyone….old, young, rich, poor, married, single, successful, unemployed, etc. Wikipedia defines loneliness as a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental, emotional, and physical factors ”
- Make small talk. At the grocery store you could initiate small talk with some comment about the weather. These may be brief encounters but they will affect your mood in a positive way. Stores are pressuring customers to use self-check outs and online shopping but running errands brings about social interactions that knit together a community. Being recognized by the pharmacy clerk, check out person, a doctor’s receptionist, or even regular visits to a fast food restaurant where you get to know the employees, will help you feel part of a community.
- Get out and find something you enjoy doing even by yourself. Go out and get coffee, go to the movies, or visit the library.
- Hang out in areas where you may run in to the same people with the same interests. Go to a writer’s workshop if you are interested in writing. Go to lectures or take classes to develop your interests and make new social connections. .
Nurture Your Existing Relationships
Appreciate who you are and the connections you do have. You may have small circle of friends and family, but if those are healthy relationships, be satisfied with them. Even though you often hear that we are born and die alone, the Bible tells us differently. Many people know and love the Twenty-Third Psalm.
Psalms 23 1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Next time you find yourself alone, turn to God in prayer. Not only will praying give you comfort, you need to ask God to help you. Just talk to Him and then trust Him to fulfill your needs. I was lost after losing my wife of 47 years, but God blessed me with another companion to spend my remaining years. He knew better what I needed than I was even aware of. Life can be scary and full of surprises, but hold on, because if you put your life into God’s hands, He will work it out for your best interests.
May God Bless You All
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”