I wrote this entry yesterday for some of My members who say they suffer from loneliness.
There’s a myriad of reasons for loneliness, but one thing is certain: it’s bad for your health. Loneliness can lead to physical problems, alcoholism, depression and permanent social disconnect. Anyone can suffer from loneliness, even famous people surrounded by an entourage of “friends” because loneliness is about feeling sad over social disconnect and isolation.
Over time, the feeling of disconnectedness can lead to “social evasion”. Social evasion is a fight or flight response— a physiological reaction to a perceived threat. Over time lonely people become defensive and develop an overall feeling of mistrust for almost everyone— leading to further isolation.
Loneliness can be circumstantial or chronic. Circumstantial loneliness stems from temporary, situational circumstances, e.g., death, divorce, a move.
Chronic loneliness arises over a period of time and can stem from either past abuse or neglect, varying forms of mental illnesses, or drug and alcohol abuse. Chronic loneliness is not so easily overcome. Which brings Me to the main issue of this entry. Overcoming loneliness. What are the solutions?
The remedies for circumstantial loneliness are abundant: check city’s Town Hall and/or Library for local community groups; join a bookstore reading club, gym, riding club, golf club or even a church.
But what about those who suffer from chronic loneliness—those who have difficulty making connections? Joining a group and being surrounded by people is the last thing they want to do. So what can they do? Social media connections don’t help much. Studies show social media can cause some isolated people to feel more isolated. One caveat, however, is joining online communities for lonely/socially isolated people. I’ve lurked around a few of these communities for a while trying to better understand their experiences. Surprisingly I’ve seen quite a number of relationships form within these forums. These communities bring together like-minded people. As members share their experiences, other members find others whom they feel share a similar story. We tend to trust and bond with those whom we feel are similar to us and whom we feel can empathize with our realties. These types of communities offer this chance.
“But since everything like and akin to oneself is pleasant, and since every man is himself more like and akin to himself than any one else is, it follows that all of us must be more or less fond of ourselves…That is why we are usually fond of our flatterers, [our lovers,] and honour; also of our children, for our children are our own work.”
Becoming a volunteer can also help alleviate loneliness. Serving others is a great way to forget about oneself. And, it fosters a sense of gratitude. Having a sense of gratitude is like homemade medicine. In gratitude, there’s no room for longing.
So those are My two solutions for chronic loneliness: joining community forums for loneliness/social isolation, and volunteering. Of course, there are also pharmaceutical and cognitive therapies for loneliness, especially when associated with mental health issues.
I hope some of this helps.
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