What if being lonely is a bigger problem than we ever suspected? When people are asked what makes the greatest contribution to life, they tell us that love and intimacy with other people (partners, children, parents, friends) are what makes them feel life is worthwhile and good. This is more important than money or fame.
Yet so many people feel lonely. About 20% of people in this country feel isolated and alone. And this is making them unhappy. The emotional effects are depression, self esteem, anxiety, hostility, and/or pessimism. The pandemic also further isolated individuals.
Yet this is not the worst of it. Social isolation is also detrimental to their health. It’s comparable to high blood pressure. obesity, lack of exercise or smoking.
You can feel lonely when you are in a crowd. You can feel loved and supported when you are alone. Loneliness is unique to each individual. However there is an epidemic of loneliness in the country now. So what is it that makes people feel lonely?
Increased internet usage with “friends” increases social isolation as well as depression when it replaces more tangible forms of human contact.
One key is not feeling connected to other people. We are wired to want connection. But why do so many people have difficulty in making connections.? I talked to one man who was trying to date online and he told me that so many conversations were very shallow. If you’re only discussing shallow topics and not really sharing important things about yourself, then it’s difficult to feel a connection. However if you both have an interest in a hobby or an activity this can sometimes eat to a start of a connection.
There are also fears that some people have about reaching out to other people. Some of these belies and fears are: .
1. I’ll be vulnerable and look needy if I reach out to someone.
2. I’ll be rejected
3. It’s too hard to do it
4. (S)he will take advantage of me
5. If I ask any personal questions, (s)he will think I’m an inquisition
6. I’ll make the same mistakes I made in the past
7. There are no good people out there looking to meet someone.
These and other fears can be overcome. You can steal yourself to reach out to people. Or you can do some exploring in your past to heal these beliefs and fears.