Many people are under the impression that being alone goes hand in hand with being lonely. Whilst solitude does sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness, this isn’t always the case.
Some people feel less impact from being alone than others. This group of individuals prefer being by themselves and don’t feel lonely in the least… even after an extended period of solitude. What’s the real difference between feeling lonely and being alone? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling of isolation, disconnectedness or abandonment. Feelings of loneliness have been linked to depression, loss of sleep, an increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure. Sounds quite scary, doesn’t it?
Loneliness is a complex emotional response which affects people in many different ways. We feel loneliness when we can’t communicate or connect with other people. You don’t necessarily have to be alone to feel lonely, especially if you’re surrounded by people that you don’t feel you resonate with or comfortable communicating with.
Humans as a species are very social and many of us feel a need for contact on some level. For many, the need for regular validation from others necessitates frequent human interaction. Again, this frequency varies greatly between individuals. It’s not uncommon for a person to feel lonely at one point or another during their lifetime. Events such as a breakup or the loss of a loved one can lead to temporary feelings of loneliness. These feelings typically fade as time goes by.
When it comes to cases of chronic loneliness, the dreadful feeling is brought on by the person rather than the environment. The feelings of loneliness cannot be easily relieved and will likely be more permanent until changes are introduced. Something only the individual experiencing the sense of loneliness can do. As they say, in life…..pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
When is it Loneliness?
* You feel isolation that comes with an unmet expectation or unreturned feeling
* You cry when no one is watching
* You feel a huge sense of emotional abandonment
* You struggle to find distractions, to free yourself from what you’re feeling
* You start blaming yourself for how you feel
The Effects of Solitude
Being alone affects each of us differently. While many people tend to view being alone as a negative, there can be positive effects of social isolation. Being alone gives us time to think, which can help to improve our concentration and other cognitive functions. It also provides time to reflect on our experiences and process what’s going on in our lives.
Getting a little time to yourself also helps in avoiding overstimulation or stress brought on by too much stimulus – in this case, social interaction.
Being alone isn’t always a good thing, however. Studies show that complete social isolation can have a negative impact on our health, even if we don’t feel lonely. If we go for a long time without talking to anyone, it can also get us out of practice when it comes to listening and communication skills. It’s important to interact with someone every now and then, whether it’s a friend, relative or even someone more distant like a stranger or a pen pal.
It’s Solitude When:
* You feel a sense of freedom by being isolated
* You feel so consumed with yourself that you smile for absolutely no reason
* You feel mental or physical freedom
* You feel like it’s okay to follow your heart
* You love yourself, so you want to be alone
The Difference between Loneliness and being Alone
Although being lonely and being alone are closely related, they are two entirely different things. Being alone can be a good thing, especially if you need to unwind.
But, being lonely is almost never a positive thing. If you feel like you are lonely, take whatever steps you can to reach out and make a connection with someone. In the end, you’ll be glad you did. Feelings of loneliness cannot end until changes have been made in your environment, emotional needs and expectations. As Einstein said, madness is expecting change when you continue to to do the same thing. The difficulty is, when feeling lonely, energy and motivation levels are generally pretty low, resulting in despondency and procrastination.
Strategies to Manage Loneliness
Decide to gift yourself care and commit to completing at least 2 of the below suggestions.
- Share with someone whom you trust, your current feelings of loneliness
- Decide to learn a new skill, craft, language or recreational pursuit
- Join a social Club or organisation which will expand your social circle or network
- Commit to volunteering with an organisation you feel worthy of your time and energy
- Consider adopting an abandoned pet from a reputable animal refuge
The Secret to Avoiding Loneliness
History shows the eternal questions are: What is life? What’s life for? What am I here for?
I’d like to suggest the simple answer is love. L.O.V.E. Love makes life worthwhile, makes your heart soar, your spirit shine and gives meaning to all that you do. That love, can be for a fellow human, animal, interest, hobby, nature or greater force. But, love is the answer. The bonus? When experiencing these emotions, loneliness fades significantly, if not into your past. The very act of loving, floods positive feel good vibrations though out your body, makes you glad to be alive and shows you why you are spending time here on earth.
Love is the answer! So then, getting out and expanding your horizons is the solution. Honour you by focusing not on feeling lonely, but getting out and becoming proactive about change and expansion, thereby eliminating loneliness. Something each of us can do, if we just decide to do it.
May all good things come your way through out all of your tomorrows.
Live, laugh and love lots
Partners and Friends Perth