More than ever in our history people are living on their own, add in the pandemic and there is a growing epidemic of people experiencing loneliness. Our feelings of loneliness are sometimes taken as a character flaw adding a layer of shame, and contributing to our silence, isolation and fear of reaching out for support.
The feeling of loneliness is the discomfort we feel when our relational experiences do not meet our level of desire for connection. Loneliness can occur because of our situation, such as living on our own, pandemic, divorce, loss of a loved one or unfulfilling relationships. Internal and psychological factors such as depression, and beliefs about self and low self-esteem can also contribute to feeling lonely.
Like many of our emotions that feel uncomfortable, the feeling of loneliness is a call for compassion and attention. Our felt sense of being lonely is our systems recognition of our human desire to connect, to be seen and to see. And how beautiful is that. Your heart is calling out for love.
Impact of loneliness on well-being
Loneliness has been linked to several adverse outcomes and risks factors:
Creating a new relationship with loneliness
Start by recognizing that loneliness is a universal condition most people will experience at some point in their lives.
There are concrete effective steps that help combat loneliness, such as: getting a pet, volunteering, joining a group, sharing a hobby or skill, and establishing an exercise routine.
If the above are not logistical or practical possibilities or feel too hard then start from a place that is gentler and more supportive of yourself.