Loneliness is one of the most difficult feelings a person can have. It’s such a strong emotion, in fact, that it can have serious repercussions a person’s life, health, and outlook on things. People who feel lonely are more likely to experience depression and face other physical and mental health issues and that can have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives.
Loneliness however, isn’t necessarily caused by being alone. There is a misperception for many that loneliness is caused by the absence of others in their lives, particularly a partner. While this can be true it often isn’t the case. Many people who feel lonely are married, have families, lots of people they consider friends, and successful jobs. Yet even being surrounded by all of those people it’s still possible to feel a crushing loneliness that can leave a person feeling isolated, disconnected and empty.
People who have friends, go to parties, or are in a relationship may not recognize that the sadness or emptiness they are feeling is actually loneliness. It doesn’t make sense – they are never actually alone, so how could they possibly be lonely?
The truth is that loneliness has much more to do with the quality of your relationships than the quantity of people in your life. It’s not physical proximity to other human beings and discussing things like the weather that makes us feel connected, it’s trust, depth and knowing someone cares enough to really hear you when you talk, and value and understand you. In other words, it’s feeling close and connected to someone.
So what can you do if you are feeling lonely? There isn’t a quick fix, or a one-size-fits all, but there are ways to start changing your circumstances. Any or all of the suggestions listed below can help build the connections that will begin to push loneliness away.