We’ve all felt lonely. Everybody feels lonely from time to time.
When we move to a new country, city, school. When there’s no one to hang around with in the weekend. We’ve all felt loneliness.
But over the last few decades, this occasional feeling of loneliness has become chronic for millions of people.
In the UK alone, statistics are that 60% of 18-34-years-old say that they often feel lonely.
In the US, 46% of the entire population feels lonely regularly.
We are living in the most connected time in human history, yet unprecedented numbers of people feel isolated and lonely.
Being lonely is not the same as being alone. You can be alone and feel great about yourself, and hate it when you are surrounded by people.
Loneliness is a subjective, individual experience, a feeling. If you feel lonely, you are lonely.
Loneliness is not only for one particular group of people. It can affect everybody: money, fame, beauty, social skills, power, and even great personalities. Loneliness is for everybody.
Loneliness is part of your biology. Nothing can protect you from it.
The downside of the modern world.
Today we move huge distances for new jobs, love or education, and we leave our social net behind.
We meet fewer people in person and less often
In the US, the mean number of close friends dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011.
Most people stumble into chronic loneliness by accident. Without even realizing it. You reach adulthood and suddenly you’re busy all day long with work, university, romance, kinds, and Netflix.
The most convenient thing to sacrifice for all these, it’s your time with your closest friends. Until you wake up one day and realize that you feel isolated.
You want your connections back; you yearn for close relationships. But it’s hard to find close connections as adults, so just like that loneliness can become chronic.
How loneliness kills
Studies show that the stress that comes from chronic loneliness is among the unhealthiest things we can experience as humans.
It makes you age faster, makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advances faster and your immune system weakens out.
Chronic loneliness is as deadly as obesity and as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.
“ ALL sources will be at the end of the article”
The most dangerous thing about loneliness its once it becomes chronic, it can become self-sustaining.
When loneliness becomes chronic your brain goes into self-preservation mode. It sees danger and hostility everywhere.
Some studies found that when you’re lonely, your brain is much more receptive and alert to social signals, while at the same time it’s getting clumsy and worse at interpreting them correctly.
You start paying more attention to people, but you understand them less.
The part of the brain that recognizes faces and reads reactions gets out of tune and it can categorize neutral faces as hostile. Which makes it distrustful of others.
It makes you assume the worst in people and their intentions about you. Your brain becomes more self-centered to protect yourself.
How to combat loneliness?
If loneliness has become an issue and presence in your life, the first thing you should do is admit it and try to recognize the vicious cycle you may be trapped in.
Loneliness makes you sit far away from people, in class or at lunch. Not answering the phone when friends are calling and declining invitations until the invitations stop.
We all have a story about ourselves, and if your story becomes that people start excluding you.
Other people might pick up on that and so the outside world can become the way you feel about it. This is also part of the law of attraction.
This process usually takes years, you don’t realize it at first, and can end up in depression and a mental state that prevents connections, even if you are yearning for them.
The First thing to do to escape it is to accept that loneliness is totally normal feeling and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Everybody feels lonely at some point in their life. We’ve all been thru it, the experience is universal.
You can’t ignore your feelings and hope they’ll magically go away. But you can accept them and get rid of the cause.
Self-examine what you are focusing your attention on all the time. And check if you are selectively concentrating on negative things mostly.
Examine your thoughts about the world. Are you assuming the worst about others’ intentions? Do you enter a social situation and in your head already decided it will go bad?
Do you assume that others don’t want you around? Are you avoiding being hurt by not opening up?
If so, you should start giving others the benefit of the doubt. Assume that nobody is against you, and risk being open and vulnerable again. It’s the best thing you can start doing.
If after-all you are unable to solve the situation by yourself after you’ve given a try, the best thing you can do is reach for professional help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but one of courage. I can say I have personally done this and it worked out great.
Those are the best things to combat loneliness, we have all been there. It’s in our biology to be, but we also have a fundamental biological need for connection.