Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

On Being Lonely

July 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 233

I cannot imagine anyone who has not experienced loneliness at one time or another in their lives. Yes, and although the feeling, experience or intensity of loneliness can be different for each of us, it is safe to say that all of us have, or perhaps even now are experiencing some level of loneliness.

Taking that as a given then, most all of you will be able to identify with what I have to say here today. Perhaps you will even learn something new in the process.

Loneliness, interestingly enough, has more than just one definition.

A very popular but narrow definition is the feeling that often occurs when one is physically separated from other human beings whether by choice or not. The problem with this definition is that it does not account for the person who feels isolated and alone even when in the presence of others.

A much better definition that would account for both is: an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation wherever they are, whatever they are doing.

We know from our own experience, and common sense has taught us, that the feeling of loneliness can overtake someone, can overtake each of us, with or without people being around.

Loneliness then, is actually a state of mind, or it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most. Albeit, and not to negate that for some, being physically alone sometimes can and does trigger the feeling of loneliness.

The catch-22 here is that loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people, hence perpetuating the loneliness.

Loneliness and Health

Despite all our clever communications technology, half of our population today feels lonely. And loneliness isn't just stressful - it's a major cause of ill-health and unhappiness. It is often associated with depression and even suicide. So much of this technology, rather than physically bringing us together socially, actually encourages aloneness and isolation. Part of our problem is that there seems to be a new definition for coming together socially. Now it's more about meeting or getting together on Facebook, tweeting, emailing or texting one another. None of this involves being physically present with one another - and we absolutely need that.

It is widely believed that Aristotle was the first to draw our attention to man as a social animal.

"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god." Aristotle

It is well known then, that man is a social animal who cannot live alone and isolated, and still maintain his mental and physical health. He must - and it becomes a matter of degree depending upon the nature of his personality - enter into relationships with others, if he is to develop and maintain adequate mental and physical health.

It was stated at an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference that being cut off from friends and family can raise blood pressure and weaken one's immune system.

According to the research of psychologist John Cacioppo (Department of Psychology, University of Chicago), loneliness can also make it harder to sleep and even speed the progression of dementia. He found loneliness raises levels of the hormone cortisol, and can push blood pressure up into the danger zone for heart attacks and strokes.

In his study, the loneliest people had blood pressure readings up to 30 points higher than those with the most active social lives, making them three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, and twice as likely to die from them as people with normal blood pressure.

In fact, his research showed the difference in health between the lonely and the most socially active could be as great as that between smokers and non-smokers and between the obese and those of normal weight. Those dramatic comparisons should make us all pause for thought. Professor Cacioppo said, "When time takes its toll on the body, loneliness steepens that slope of descent."

Personality Styles

Earlier I stated that, "He (man) must, and it becomes a matter of degree depending upon the nature of his personality, enter into relationships with others," in order to maintain his mental and physical health.

In understanding the nature of people, I am sure we are all familiar with the idea of people being either extroverted or introverted. In defining the two, we know among other things that a truly extroverted person needs and derives their energy or put another way, well-being from being with and surrounded by others. The introvert by contrast, also needs some contact with others but finds too much to be draining and craves alone time to relax and re-energize him or her self.

In addition to our tendency toward being either an extrovert or an introvert, to the degree that we are feelers, thinkers, sensors, intuitors (Jungian Psychology), will also have a substantial bearing on our innate need for relationships with others.

Feelers because of their empathy with others' feelings, leads them to put an emphasis on human relationships; therefore, they have a greater need for contact with others. Sensers experience their world through sensory perception, which makes them tend toward action, with an emphasis and need to communicate about their reality.

Intuitors and thinkers, on the other hand, because of their inward nature and need for thoughtfulness, reflection and solitude, need more alone time.

In other words, some personality types are more comfortable with being alone but not lonely.

What are your personality traits?

Loneliness vs. Solitude

Loneliness and solitude are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. This is a mistake. Solitude, in fact, should not be confused with social isolation or any other definition of loneliness previously discussed. We will define solitude for our purposes as being in; "a state of deliberate seclusion or isolation." "Short term solitude is often valued as a time when one may work, think or rest without being disturbed. It may be desired for the sake of privacy."(Wikipedia). In this context then, solitude is a positive thing.

Language created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being or feeling alone. And it created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.

In our hyper-connected culture, pausing to gather our thoughts is more necessary than ever. Solitude, among other things ironically, can help strengthen bonds with others, as well as rekindle curiosity and interest in the world.

Loneliness vs. Depression

Loneliness and depression are by no means mutually inclusive or exclusive. Some correlation can exist between the two, as found in numerous studies. As an example, people who have suffered from loneliness for a long period of time are far more likely to experience some sort of depression than those who are only periodically lonely. But a contradiction to this is that the situation sometimes can reverse.

What ties the two together are some of the characteristics or feelings associated with each. Both involve feelings of helplessness, loss, even disinterest in activities that were previously enjoyable. They affect diet, sleep and one's work habits. Generally, they can both negatively impact one's mental health.

One best way (there are others) to determine the difference between loneliness and depression is to compare someone who lacks social skills and the ability to communicate (likely loneliness) with someone who feels either guilt and/or perpetually sadness about all things (likely depression).

Needless to say, both loneliness and depression are not to be dismissed as minor interruptions to one's life, but rather as something to be taken very seriously. If you or anyone you know is experiencing either, it is in your and their best interest to have someone to talk with or someone who can provide counseling support.

A Different Perspective

A Question

Can you take it for a given that when you are in the throws of loneliness, it is a signal not unlike hunger, thirst or pain, that something important is missing from your life?

In a sense Douglas Coupland (Shampoo Planet) had it right when he said, "The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself, life's cruelest irony." What I take from that is that we all are responsible for each of our respective lives. We must seek out the truth about who we are and wish to become (introspection). Once we can figure that out and it is sometimes no small feat, then we must make a decision to do something about it, if we want the pain of loneliness to go away. Awareness transferred to positive action.

What Mark Twain had to say on the subject of loneliness is very relevant here, "The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself."

In other words, when in the throws of loneliness the first place to look is within yourself. You will find the answer and way out right there!

JAMES LADD B.A., C.H.R.P., C.P.I.R. Life & Business Coach, author and speaker, who has without a doubt been down the "Road Less Traveled," having survived and thrived after a double lung transplant in August of 2003. Jim comes to this place in his incredible life journey with a dynamic combination of work and life experience. Jim worked as an Organizational & Human Resource Development Specialist for over 35 years in the private, public & non-profit sectors and also managed a provincial government employee assistance program serving over 15,000 employees. He has authored and facilitated a wide variety of training programs covering such diverse topics as; managing organizational change, conflict resolution, performance management, managing and/or coping with stress, interviewing & counseling skills, supervisory & management skills. His most recent publication titled; "THE PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION GUIDE: Raising Awareness of Self to Slay the Dragon," is an important part of his coaching process. In the community he became an award winning football coach over the course of 25 years (Coach of the Year 3M of Canada, Coach of the Year, Developmental Category, Coaches Assoc. of Manitoba.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:














Imagine a 10,000 piece jigsaw complete with a picture and then a tornado comes along and rips it apart, the pieces scattered and the picture lost. Imagine that jigsaw falling back to earth in some

By: Tim Holmes l Self Improvement > Empowerment l August 12, 2012 lViews: 334

Personal growth and understanding of self are no different. We fear that which we do not understand and it is a choice as to what we do with that feeling of fear. I now understand myself very well

By: Tim Holmes l Self Improvement > Personal Growth l August 12, 2012 lViews: 309

If you are going to write articles online, you are going to inadvertently increase your critical thinking skills. The reason is simple - because as you are preparing an article you are explaining to

By: Lance Winslow l Self Improvement > Mind Development l August 02, 2012 lViews: 302

Back when I was in high school and college I was a spectacular athlete, and I'm not afraid to say so now. At the time, it might not been inappropriate, as it would have shown an inflated ego, but I

By: Lance Winslow l Self Improvement > Mind Development l August 02, 2012 lViews: 496

Brainwave entrainment is a great resource for self-hypnosis and can be very effective in helping you to access the brainwave frequency that allows you to change your core programming by changing your

By: Wanina Petlock l Self Improvement > Mind Development l August 01, 2012 lViews: 248

Simply put, brainwave entrainment is a process that uses sound patterns to change your dominant brainwave to a specific brainwave frequency that produces a certain, desired effect. Entrainment can

By: Wanina Petlock l Self Improvement > Mind Development l August 01, 2012 lViews: 235

Prospering as a woman coach is possible. Regardless of what your business situation looks like, it can be turned around. You deserve to prosper and live your life the way you dream of living it.

By: Dr. Shauntel Peak-Jimenezl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 05, 2012 lViews: 207

As a coach, it is important to develop a mindset that rocks. A mindset that rocks can launch you into your desired level of success. But a mindset that doesn't rock will work against you, and can

By: Dr. Shauntel Peak-Jimenezl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 03, 2012 lViews: 202

Life can sometimes bring unexpected or unwanted circumstances that can knock you off your feet. When this happens, it's important to remember the keys, gifts and love you already have on the inside

By: Belinda S Whitakerl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 02, 2012 lViews: 248

Faith can help you persevere and achieve success. It is one thing to take steps toward coaching success, but when you take faith steps that can inspire and empower you from the inside out.

By: Dr. Shauntel Peak-Jimenezl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 02, 2012 lViews: 205

Declaring No More Ms. Nice Coach can empower you from the inside out to live more happy and fulfilled. If you are doing things in your business that are robbing you of your joy it is time to declare

By: Dr. Shauntel Peak-Jimenezl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 02, 2012 lViews: 223

Q: How hard is it to launch a coaching business online? What is the best traffic source for coaches, consultants, teachers, trainers and online mentors? Do I need to spend thousands of dollars on

By: Ian Ross Hollanderl Self Improvement > Coachingl July 02, 2012 lViews: 176

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus