What is loneliness?
To feel lonely is to be overwhelmed by an unbearable feeling of separateness, at a very deep level.
Loneliness, is it social isolation?
Chronic loneliness is a serious, life threatening condition. Studies of loneliness generally find high correlations with low self-esteem, shyness, self-consciousness, introversion, and the lack of assertiveness. Are these the result of a high pressure of life? Most of us have felt it. Most of us have feared it.
Loneliness is a normal emotion.
Throughout our lives there is a need for intimacy as well as a need to be on one’s own. Our life is a balancing act between these two emotions. When you are lonely you might feel as if there is no quality to your life. As we grow up we become more independent, become individuals or separate selves. There will be times when we feel anxious, abandoned, unloved, insecure. In other words, we feel lonely. There are times when we are unable to maintain the balance.
Pressures of life today
Stress of modern life can easily make someone feel lonely.
- Changes in employment, the concept of a job for life has gone
- People move away, this leads to a breakup of family support
- A large number of people in all age groups now live alone
Part of the community
In modern life there can easily be less of a community. You can live in a block of flats and never meet other people that live in the same block. During the day you are not a part of the community where you live. There are several factors that can increase a person’s sense of isolation.
- Physical disability
- Negative attitudes towards single mothers
- Long-term unemployed
- Mental health problems
People with a physical disability frequently feel disadvantaged and stigmatized Mobility is often a problem and disabled people can easily find themselves excluded from access to a large number of social activities. The problems with access for disabled people can make them feel excluded and this can easily lead to loneliness. People whose circumstances have suddenly changed, divorce or bereavement will feel lonely.
There are also people who lead a busy life, seem to be very happy but they can develop an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Loneliness affects individuals differently and can have a severe impact upon a person’s coping skills, stress level, and health.
Solitude or loneliness
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Creative people will frequently seek solitude to work and be happy. They enjoy their own company, this is quite different from being loneliness.
Doctors have known for some time that loneliness is bad for the mind. It leads to mental health problems like depression, stress, anxiety, and a lack of confidence. There is evidence that social isolation is connected with an increased risk of physical ill health as well.
What are the most common causes?
I woke up one morning and realised there was nobody there – that I no longer existed. I’d always been a mother and now that role was over, I was completely empty.
Loneliness is not one single, simple thing. There are both different degrees and causes. It’s possible to talk about three different kinds of loneliness: circumstantial, developmental and internal.
Loneliness will be discussed in another blog, Particularly how to overcome the problems and search for loneliness