The desire to be around people, being heard and understood is a very natural one and when unfulfilled, it results in a feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is an emotional response to lack of companionship, loss of connection and communication. It is a state of mind that craves for connection but somehow stops us from making one.
Why do we feel lonely even when surrounded by friends? Loneliness strikes in when we lack a ‘true connection’. Irrespective of the number of friends we have, we might still feel lonely if we’re unable to find companionship or don’t feel understood. Loneliness brings about a huge change in how we perceive things around us.
- We may assume “no one understands me” based on earlier experiences
- We may feel sad or unwanted in a crowd.
- We may fall into a relationship very quickly out of need of having someone around and end up feeling lonelier when we fail to make a true connection.
- Thought of “why me” may stress us out and add to the whole struggle when we see people around us happy and getting along well with people.
Effects of Loneliness
- Distorted relationships- Loneliness, as mentioned above, changes the way we perceive things around us. It alters our view of a relationship and could devalue it as well. Even the people who can alleviate our loneliness feel hesitant to connect with us.
- Insecurity- Insecurity comes handy when we are trapped in loneliness. Fear of being alone is the root of insecurity that we might lose existing connections too.
- Anxiety- Loneliness is usually accompanied by anxiety of ending up alone. Researches show that people with loneliness are often found with anxious episodes.
- Self-Esteem- A very obvious effect that could be seen in people with loneliness is low self-esteem. They feel unwanted that drains the confidenceout of them.
- Social Isolation- The psychological effects of loneliness lead a person to maintain distance from the world. Low self-esteem may bring down the social interaction and may lead to isolation that further inflates loneliness.
- Substance Abuse- Drug abuse is a negative coping mechanism that people facing loneliness may adopt. They might get themselves into alcoholism, drugs etc. that deteriorates their condition.
- Medical/Clinical Conditions- Loneliness could grow and take a shape of some medical or clinical condition like depression, cardiovascular diseases, weakened immune system, suicidal thoughts/ideation etc
How can we feel better?
- Recognize what makes you lonely- First step towards helping loneliness is to find out what is that we want in order to feel better. Unless we find out what triggers our loneliness and what is missing, we won’t be able to work towards it.
- Initiate- While we have in mind what makes us sad, initiating a connection would help us reach out to people and reduce loneliness. Drowned in isolation we may unknowingly keep ourselves from initiating. This is something we can change.
- Find potential places- We can go out in search of places or activities that engage masses. These may work as a medium of finding like-minded people and building new networks.
- Focus on quality- Our focus must be on building a ‘true relation’ rather than ‘for the sake of having one’. Once we find a quality relationship, we may not care about the quantity of relationships we have.
- Use alone time- Loneliness could be used to explore our own selves better than ever. We can invest this time in pursuing our interests that would help us feel light and fresh.
- Positive self-talk- In loneliness we may very often think negatively about ourselves. This may reflect in our perception of surroundings and in turn we may expect rejection from people all the time. Talking positively to ourselves will help us improve our self-image and attitude in social relationships.