Loneliness is not the same as being alone. We can enjoy our own company. We may even prefer to be on our own at times. When we want to be alone, we can find it restful and peaceful. We can become quite creative.
Loneliness, however, is not having anyone to see or talk to very often. We could feel surrounded by hundreds of people but not feel there is anyone to connect with. We are social creatures and need some kind of social contact with others. That level of contact changes from person to person and in different relationships. Some need a wide array of acquaintances, and some need just a few close friends but one way or another we need to feel connected to others. We like to belong, fit in, be kindly regarded. We like others to think well of us, enjoy our company, laugh at our jokes and so on. Even if it is just for the sake of feeling sane sometimes.
Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem increases your chance of feeling lonely, and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health. We need to feel some kind of a bond with others in order to feel happy.
We can feel lonely at time to time and for different reasons. But when it’s long term or we feel there’s nothing we can do about it, it begins to affect our well-being. Some of these reasons for loneliness are:
Relationship Break up
Not only is there the loss of the partner, but some of the social circle which came from that circle also.
The loss of a loved one or family member can leave a gap in our lives
Moving home, changing school or jobs into an environment where we don’t know anyone
Not having the same interests, culture, political views, religion as others
Lack of confidence in social situations, feeling unable to fit in and integrate
Comparing ourselves to others unfavourably
Lack of trust
Either in self or others, one way or another it feels safer
They’ve no time for me
If someone can’t commit to a date or cancels taking it personally Forgetting others have lives and commitments of their own and will not always be available at the drop of a hat
Loneliness tends to bring unhappiness. Explore ways to widen your social circle and allow friendships to develop.
If you have difficulty connecting with others be patient and give yourself time to form connections. Good friendships are not made straight away they need time to develop. Volunteering can open up a new avenue to meet people. As can joining an online community or joining a local group of people who share the same interests such as hiking or local history. If you have trouble reaching out perhaps join a class where everyone is focused on a particular subject or activity and over time step out of your comfort zone a little at a time until you feel comfortable, let others reach out to you as well.
This article was written by sentientcounselling