Pain of Being Alone
Loneliness is a universal human emotion that is complex and unique to each individual. Being alone is not same as being lonely. Loneliness is characterized by feelings of isolation despite longing for social relationships. it is often interpreted as an involuntary separation, rejection, or abandonment by other people.
On the other hand, solitude is chosen. People who like their alone time, keep up some healthy social connections that they can reach to when they desire. In such cases being alone is voluntary and does not count as loneliness.
There are some factors that lead to loneliness and they include physical isolation, moving to a new location, divorce, death of someone important in a person’s life. Further psychological disorder can cause loneliness. Depression is one such reason which causes people to withdraw from society, that leads to isolation. Research also suggests that loneliness can be factor that contributes to symptoms of depression.
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Loneliness can also be triggered by low self-esteem. Those who lack confidence often believe they are unworthy of the attention or regard of other people, which can lead to isolation and chronic loneliness. Personality factors also plays a role in creating loneliness. For e.g. introverts might be less likely to cultivate and seek social connections which results to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Even long-standing illness can cause loneliness. It is possible to observe loneliness amongst retired age group. These are some reasons that cause loneliness. Studies show that a normal human being can experience bouts of loneliness throughout his life.
Loneliness literally hurts. When we feel cut off from people around us our health suffers. Loneliness has a definite impact on health and well-being. We become more susceptible to anxiety, depression and anguish. We experience disharmony which affects our sleep. We get sick and take longer time to recover.
Stress levels increase, you remain inactive. Chances of high blood pressure, getting flu, inflammation, periodontitis, Alzheimer, some forms of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease increases. A 2015review of 70 studies showed that loneliness increases the risk of your chance of dying by 26 percent compared to depression and anxiety which recorded at 21percent. Experts contend that the effect of loneliness can have the same negative impact on health as smoking 14 cigarettes a day.
Researchers are discovering that loneliness is far more than just a psychological pain, it also causes biological damage to our cells. A study was conducted by UCLA research team on a small group. They discovered that individuals who were exposed to long standing periods of loneliness had different looking cells. It was found that their white blood cells appeared to be stuck in state of fear. This offers a plausible explanation for why they may be susceptible to develop certain diseases.
The agony of loneliness serves as a reminder that we require social interaction. Before studies were conducted on loneliness it was not considered a grave condition. Its destructive power was beyond imagination even for experts. Now experts are convinced that it is a silent epidemic.
If loneliness is a passing inconvenience, one can quickly dismiss it whenever we rekindle our relationship with important people. When loneliness becomes a regular occurrence, it gives rise to a wide range of issues.
Let us not cave in to negative impacts of loneliness and explore ways to combat it. When we feel bouts of loneliness surfacing, we tend to engage in healthy forms of distractions like reading, exercising, working, gardening etc. People also develop unhealthy forms of distractions like overeating, watching hours of television, drinking, drugs etc. These unhealthy distractions may push you further towards loneliness.
Even excess of healthy distractions can create strain, like over exhaustion and burnout due to exercise, or if you coop up with a book the condition can extend further. It is important not to resist the reasons that are creating loneliness. When we try to resist something, it tends to persist more. Distracting ourselves from the core problem does not get at its root.
It is important to face the emotionscompletely. Allow the emotion to take center stage. If you are used to distraction method, this maysound unsettling for you. It is vital that you feel the emotion in its full form.There are high chances that it may just move through you more quickly. Observe the emotions, the feelings, discomforts and sensations it creates. If it releases tears it, is better to cry and feel better. Be with the discomfort fully.
Most people are not comfortable to accept that they are lonely. As they deny it to themselves, they will be unable to talk about it. In such cases it will be difficult to work on changing the reason for loneliness. Recognize that loneliness is a sign that something needs to change. Once you start working to change the reasons to your loneliness you should be patient. Things are not going to change overnight.
Usually lonely people are living in a spiral of negative emotions. They expect the worse outcomes like rejection, criticism, judgement etc. It is important to slowly develop an attitude of expecting the best. Instead of focusing on negative aspect of a social relationship it is important to look at the positive side of that relationship.
Try to be silent
during some part of the day. This may sound contrary. Fact is that we are surrounded by background noise andunknowingly they have become a part of our life, e.g. sound of traffic, tv, music, phones ringing, text messages beeping etc. Make sure you take half an hour from your day to be completely silent. Do this exercise to be aware of the present moment – aware to everything around you and within you. You should smile to yourself during the silence and experience the peace and harmony that exists below the clutter of unwanted thoughts and feelings.
helps to synchronize our inner and external life. Mediation brings peace, and provides us the courage to move through our lonely periods. It has been found that meditation increases brain activity in areas that trigger positive emotions. If one is new to meditation one can start with 5 minutes and eventually work up to 10/20/30 minutes at a time.
Practice kindness and service.
As Mother Teresa says, “Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” Practice kindness and service to the person in your family, your neighbour, vegetable vendor, your help etc. One small act of kindness will brighten someone`s day. As you continue to focus on small and simple acts of kindness – a smile, a kind word, saying thank you, these actswill definitely change the tone of your inner life, it re-energizes you. It is no wonder that compassion has been linked to well-being.
If kindness and serving others is a challenge to you then start connecting with nature first. Studies have shown that being in the midst of nature can have a calming effect on human beings. It enhances the sense of connectedness and closeness. This in turn aids in connecting with other human beings and further encourages us to share, serve and express kindness.
Talk to someone you can trust.
Reaching out to someone in your life to talk about what you are feeling is important. When you openly talk about your fears, anxieties, worries or any major concerns it helps you to clear out unhealthy thoughts and feelings. In serious case you can reach out to doctor or therapist. Now a day’s online therapy is a great option, it allows you to contact a therapist at your convenience.
If you make friends with yourself,
you will never be alone. We often fear being alone. But being alone also means doing what you wish. You can indulge in what you love to do – eat your favourite food, watch movies you love, listen to audio books of your choice, put on music and dance like you don’t care, Allow your inner self to express freely without being judged or ridiculed. It is truly a resting time and such periods of loneliness can in fact turn out to be healing periods where you take time to break through your inner limitations and set yourself free. For a person who feels free, bouts of loneliness can turn into healing time instead of being a painful time.
Finally, it is important for those who are lonely to know and believe that they can overcome the pain of loneliness. Loneliness does not have to last forever.