I recently read a blog post, by Mark Sisson, regarding loneliness and how it has become near epidemic levels.
The article discussed how loneliness is perceived as a weakness and is something we don’t openly talk about in society, which is certainly true.
To admit to being lonely is often seen as too shameful. It’s as though anyone admitting to loneliness is admitting to failure in life.
People may also not want to admit to being lonely because of the worry of what others think. The fear that being lonely might show one to be unpopular, with a lack of friends, might hold some back from discussing it. Which is ridiculous when you think about it. Someone can have many friends and family members, yet still feel lonely.
Loneliness can also occur when people feel like they don’t fit into life. Feeling ‘different’ can lead to a sense of isolation.
They say that loneliness is worse for the health than smoking; which makes sense. Anything that detrimentally weakens the emotional health is damaging to the physical.
The fact that loneliness has become an epidemic, and is now so famous, should not come as a surprise. People are so self-absorbed these days. Because everyone is kept super-busy with work commitments, family life, social media or just trying to figure out existence, they don’t always have time for others.
There are many elderly people who are lonely. When retirement comes around, some are left with all this time on their hands with nothing to do and no one to see, and because their children and grandchildren are kept so busy, they rarely have time to visit. For the reason that no one likes to admit to being lonely, everyone just assumes that their aging family members are ok, and are just getting on with retirement; when they might actually be suffering in silence.
I have experienced terrible loneliness once. It was for a short period, when I went to India for my yoga teacher training. I had already left the UK feeling sad, because I was leaving my husband and dog back at home whilst I did my studies, but when I arrived in India not knowing anyone and in a different culture, I had this extreme sense of isolation that felt awful. It only lasted a day or two, until I met with my other teacher trainees, but it was a horrible feeling that I would not wish on anyone.
I believe loneliness is made worse by the fear of rejection. We may assume that if someone doesn’t make an effort to see us, that they don’t want to be around us. Or if we ask to see someone and they tell us they are busy, this might be taken as a rejection. The more sensitive someone is, the worse rejection is experienced, and the more it can make people afraid of asking others to spend time with them.
Pride is another problem. Many people are too proud to admit they feel alone. They don’t want others feeling sorry for them. Or, as already noted, it may make them feel like they’ve somehow failed.
There are certain times of the year when loneliness is experienced much worse. Christmas being one. Even people who do not enjoy the festive season often don’t want to be alone on Christmas day. Especially, if they have happy memories of spending the day with lots of family members.
Introverts tend to be better at being alone than extroverts; but that does not mean they want to be alone constantly. Extroverts are often revitalised by being around people, whereas introverts can get drained. An introvert actually feels more alone when with people that they do not click with than when unaccompanied. As the old saying goes, ‘Sometimes the loneliest place to be is in a crowd’.
For an Empath, dealing with loneliness is difficult. Especially if being around people for too long triggers overwhelm. An Empath may retreat from the world to the extent that they are alone too much of the time, which could trigger loneliness. Getting the balance right, to avoid Empath isolation, takes experimentation. But it is attainable.
So, what is the answer? How do we become part of the solution to preventing loneliness?
Firstly, I guess we should probably start talking about loneliness more openly. Stop it being such a taboo subject and being seen as something so shameful.
Secondly, even when we are not feeling lonely, work to prevent it from happening in the future. We all get old, and we cannot expect our loved ones to always be there. Keep in touch with friends, join suitable groups, like walking groups or creative classes. Finding one’s passions and staying creative keeps us tuned into our joy.
Also, another way to counteract loneliness is to find Oneness.
There are many definitions of Oneness, but I’m simply meaning to feel at one with self. Stop the ego and inner-thoughts from creating our sense of self-worth and outlook on life. Which has to be said is not an overnight process, but it is very doable. These posts on meditation and yoga give more information on the subject.
Although I know loneliness can be a signal to make changes, I still hope that one day it will be a thing of the past, especially for the elderly.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
Until next time.
Photos by freestocks.org and Pixabay