"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is the pervasive feeling of being alone, unloved, or unwanted. It is often tied to, and associated with depression, despair, dejection, social isolation, and sadness. Some of the key descriptions of loneliness include the following:
You have no choice in your alone-ness. You are alone but don't want to be.
You no longer have attachments to people, places, or experiences. You feel adrift and disconnected.
Life changes such as moving to a new location, starting a new job or school can bring about feelings of loneliness.
Loss is an instigator- losing a friend, family member, partner, or loved one can create feelings of loneliness.
Feeling worthless, unlovable, or unacceptable and having low self-esteem may lead to social isolation and feelings of rejection, whether or not they truly exist.
Feelings of loneliness are often driven by the belief that no one can truly understand our experience, and our longing to belong. Some people are better able to cope with the feeling of loneliness than others. It may be described as a painful, dark, or cold experience.
Common Misperceptions of Loneliness:
There are many misperceptions that others hold about loneliness. Often if we are lonely, it matters what we tell ourselves it means.
- Loneliness is a sign of weakness
- There's something wrong with me
- No one else feels this way
- I'm unlovable
- No one cares about me
- I'm pathetic
These perceptions may lead to a decrease in self-esteem, or an increase in feelings of worthlessness or depression. Further, entering new situations may create feelings of anxiety, as a person believes that they are unsuccessful socially.
Loneliness is a valid need that every person must satisfy. At some point we will all be affected by loneliness. It is subjective how and what a person needs to feel less lonely, so it is important to understand your own needs. It secondarily requires the knowledge of how to find and maintain social relationships.
How To Combat Loneliness:
Those who are lonely are at a social disadvantage. Often they become less daring socially, less willing to put themselves out there for fear of rejection, and they have a harder time with opening up to others. However, there are several ways to decrease loneliness.
Change your perception that loneliness is a weakness, incurable, or a defect. It is a temporary condition, not a permanent state.
Take action and join a social group - this can be a religion, social club, book club, martial arts, gym, cycle club: anything that feeds your interests and hobbies and gets you around other people.
Identify your needs to make sure that they get met. You know what you need better than anyone else. Make a list and start asking for what you need or what you want.
I know, all of this sounds easier said than done, right? Making friends is a big deal and can seem overwhelming or challenging, especially if you're shy. However, here are some ideas for easier ways to make friends.
- Do what you love, in the normal course of a day.
- Look for ways and opportunities to interact with others.
- Eat with other people.
- Sit with new people in class.
- Join a study/exercise/social group.
- Participate in new situations which make you more likely to meet people.
- Look at campus resources or your work employee program.
- Develop social skills to reduce social awkwardness.
- Don't judge people or yourself.
In addition to tackling the social aspects of making friends, it is important to work on your self-esteem and your skills.
- Identify your hobbies and interests.
- Get to know yourself.
- Find ways to enjoy spending time with yourself.
- Maintain good nutrition, sleep, and exercise.
- Don't decide ahead of time how you are going to feel about an activity or situation.
Coping With Loneliness:
Feelings of loneliness can be a bitter battle to fight. Some people shop to get out of the house, some call up a friend, some sit and feel miserable. There are many ways to cope with being lonely.
Active loneliness - This is where you use your alone time to actively engage in activities you like, get to know yourself, or find ways to enjoy your time.
Feelings - It is not uncommon to feel things like sadness, despression, or anger. Allow these feelings to exist, but don't get overwhelmed by them. It is okay to cry or express your feelings.
Inactivity - Inactivity is common in people who are lonely because there is the perception that there is no point in doing something because there is no one to do it with. That is why it is so important to get out and get moving. Exercise and join interest clubs.
Sleep - Oversleeping is a common symptom of sadness and depression. Make sure you are eating and sleeping according to a regular schedule. Exercise is important too.
Remember that loneliness is a temporary state.
We at The Band love you and will always welcome you with open arms. If you are lonely, share your story with us.
Other Resources About Loneliness:
University of Illinois - This school's counseling center has a helpful page of suggestions about how to increase your social interactions as well as decrease your feelings of loneliness.
Webofloneliness.com - Website where people can get information, resources, and share artwork. Great resource for those feeling lonely.
csulb.edu - The website of Dr. Tom Stevens contains information about relationships, coping with fear, and factors important to relationships.