2016-06-30

Editor's Note: The Information Age has transformed society, but not always for the better. More people are forgoing face-to-face communication in favor of e-mails, text messaging and other forms of communication technology that are chipping away at our basic human need for personal interaction, or so says a study published in the American Sociological Review

. The result: a trend toward disconnecting from friends and family and increasing social isolation. In light of the recent study, Beliefnet asked its users to share ways they have overcome social isolation and loneliness.



Meditate/Pray

When I slow down and meditate, I have a great sense of well-being and I feel connected. Also, being a sincere listener and very open with people creates a deeper connection in which there is no loneliness.
--Scott, Camarillo, Cal.

Constant prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to fill me is my answer. I have found that through daily prayers said before I get out of bed, asking for strength, health and a happy spirit, help me to start the day out right. I read Beliefnet everyday. I read my Bible, and other reading material that guides me through the day as well.
--Penny, Englewood, Fla.

First I meditate by visualizing a familiar, imagined place. Then I listen and end with a prayer. Towards the end of the meditation, I think of all the people who are also experiencing what I am, and I unite with them, sending them peace and confirming that I am not alone.
--Adele, Paradise, Cal.

Cell phones are everywhere. Everywhere you go people are talking on cell phones while driving, eating, and even while in public bathroom stalls. Prayer is the only communication that should require that much attention. Can you imagine how much more peaceful the world would be if people spent more time talking to their Creator/God rather than talking on cell phones?  Try prayer…it works!
--Gwendolyn, Upper Marlboro, Md.



Welcome the Loneliness

Sometimes it might be wiser to stop "fighting it." Loneliness can be a call for us to go inward and find that part of ourselves that we have ignored for too long. Like the symptom of an illness, it tries to get our attention by making us feel uncomfortable. When we find, empower, and welcome the spirit within us it becomes impossible to be lonely.
--Duane, Corpus Christi, Tex.

Say it out loud: “I am lonely." Ironically, speaking the forbidden words can deepen relationships and expose the wealth of support already available to you. The shame of being lonely--the stereotypical image of an outcast who has done something to create his or her lonely state--is so much more painful than the simple human unavoidable truth that you, like countless people before you, are lonely. It passes. It is survivable. It even gifts you with the ability to see loneliness in others and reach out to them. Choose your audience wisely and then speak the truth. Believe me, they have been lonely too.
--Ti, Winston-Salem, N.C.

My suggestion for loneliness is just to accept that it will be a part of your life young or old. It is no respecter of age. When you encounter it, look at it as an opportunity to grow. To learn to do something to fill the spaces you find in your life. Do something you have always wanted to do, go somewhere you always wanted to go. Don't say, “Well, I don't have the money." There are ways to find that pathway of life which leads to fulfillment in a different way. What loneliness brings is a change of thinking from the head to the heart.
--Vickie, Albion, R.I.



Volunteer/Help Others



One method to fighting loneliness is to stay out of self. Visit a nursing home. People in nursing homes are lonely too and some never get visitors, so sit down and talk to them. Consider writing a letter to a friend or family member of the resident. They might be lonely at the other end and receiving a letter will perk them up. Join a church or a parish in your neighborhood. Volunteers are always needed in a parish or church. Become a volunteer for a local charity.
--Janet, Aurora, Col.

I have been battling loneliness most of my life and even more so the last five years, as I have been coping with a disease that pretty much keeps me tied to the house. I picked up my knitting and found an organization that needs my talent by making items for the homeless shelters in my area. When one of our missionaries caught wind of what I was doing, she asked me if I could knit hats for the 300-plus children she provides housing for in Nepal. Well, how could I say no? I love children, but I didn’t know how I was going to provide enough for what she needed. I ended up finding a local knitting group to go to and be with other ladies and fill the void of being alone plus help the children at the same time.

If you have talents of some kind, search out your local area and see if you can volunteer somewhere just to get out of the house. I found several years ago that even the school can use volunteers to simply cut and prepare things for the teachers for their classes.
--Melanie, Forest, Va.

The best thing to battle loneliness is to help others. Part of loneliness is self-pity. Donating food at a food bank and helping to hand it out, going to a soup kitchen and volunteering your time, reading stories to senior citizens who can no longer see well, these things will make your life richer and much fuller. Understanding that there are others in the world who are as lonely as you, and filling that void together by reaching out to them is the best way to eliminate the problem.
--Marcia, Bellevue, Wash.

Stay in the present, love yourself, and have relevant principles that don't just benefit you, but also those around you. Get involved in helping other people and other living beings (nature). The more you give of yourself, the more people will see the value of your wisdom and be attracted to you. Community service and involvement in social causes will lead you on the path to loving yourself so others may also love you. This action on your part will provide social opportunities that solidify true friendships and can lead to long-term companionship and loving relationships.
--Charlie, Arcata, Cal.

 



Turn to God



I have been in the middle of loneliness for years, and I have one answer: "Make the Trinity your best friend." When it comes to money, sickness, day-to-day sufferings, and daily challenges, we put our trust in people. Surround yourself with evenly yoked people, pray together, and put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-18). Learn to be a godly militant soldier in the army and never give in to the enemy no matter the cost. Trust in the Lord; he will never leave or forsake us.

--Roberta, Springfield, Ill.



Surround yourself with "rooted" people who have stood through tough times and remain faithful to God and his word. Increase your worship. It's hard when you're hurting but I've learned when the focus is truly on God what else matters. Find yourself at the feet of the Lord and he'll give you what you need and more.

--Irene, Yorktown, Va.

Fighting loneliness is remembering that you are never really alone. God is with us at all times. In the early morning, I take my coffee and a good Christian book to read outside on the deck where I can hear nature come alive and read. It brings me closer to the best friend I've ever had, or ever will have, and that is God.

--Ann, Kenyon, Minn.



The first step in fighting loneliness is for people to turn back to God, to ask him/her for help in overcoming this problem and then to have faith that God will, indeed, send help. We should all pray to God, asking him/her to send us opportunities to heal others and for others to heal us. We should then be alert for these opportunities and live in a joyful attitude of expectation that God will send them to us. Love of God and love of our neighbors is the answer to loneliness.

--David Mortensen, N.J.



Turn to Friends



What we have done is that we get together once a month. There are eight of us and we meet at a restaurant or other location and spend a couple of hours catching up on what has happened since our last gathering. It is BIG FUN, and we get a chance to spend quality time with our adult friends.

--Patricia, Ill.



I have done something every so often that helps rejuvenate my spirits and those that are around me. Invite all your friends, especially those you have not seen in awhile, and rent a limousine or a big passenger van with a driver, and visit a big city near you. Enjoy the sites, the company, the feeling of friendships, and bring a camera. This will always help to pick you up and remind you of the wonderful life you have. It always works for me.

--Bill, Philadelphia, Pa.



I have a very tight circle of friends (nine of us in all) but we all travel and have very busy lives so we've come up with ways to use technology, as well as traditional means, to stay in touch. We meet once a week in the morning online using Yahoo conferencing, so no matter who is out of town or what's going on, we all get a chance to catch up and boost each other. We also plan events (BBQs, weekend getaways, concerts, fairs) ahead of time so people can plan around them but we also make sure that we always invite everyone. We update the rest of the group if there's news, something funny to share or a birthday or anniversary to remember through text messages, email or instant messenger. Most of all, we've made it a priority not to let one of us wander off for long without going after them and saying, "Where do you think you're going?"

--Lori, Sacramento, Ca.



Twice weekly I meet friends for lunch and dinner. One night a week I meet with my gal friends at the local hotel to enjoy refreshments and conversation. Many of my former classmates from high school gather once a month for breakfast and sharing of our lives. While many of those classmates are from around our hometown, we are also joined on occasion by those who are visiting in town or live within a day's driving distance. This October our high school class will celebrate with our 50th reunion, so we are busy planning that weekend.

--Carol, Marietta, Oh.





Meet New People



I just moved across the country by myself and have been combating loneliness in an uphill battle. Some things that I have been doing are going to public places where there is a lot of noise and interaction. While you can still be a lonely island in a sea of people, at least there is a physical presence. I especially like going to coffee shops, where you can become a regular and they greet you with a smile and recognition when you walk in the door. I have also thrown myself into activities that are offered at the church I joined, such as mixers and new-member lunches. It is great to meet other people. While I haven't made a lot of friends yet, I am confident it will happen. I also think people get a little picky about others and instead of seeing the good in them, people judge them as "unworthy" and potentially write off someone who could be a great friend. Take the time to have a conversation with someone, you might find you like them and are on the path to a friendship.

--Jen, Fremont, Cal.



I am 69. When I was young, I always thought I would be happy to live to that age and I no longer feel that because I could not cope with infirmity or other handicaps. But here I am, with so many ambitions and so much I want to learn.

Three years ago I decided that being alone for 32 years was long enough. I enjoy my own company but I do feel the need to be needed. My children are grown, and I have four lovely grandchildren. But my life seems without purpose. So I ran a small advertisement in our local magazine with the words "Anyone over 50, wishing to make new friends and improve their social life, please come to _____ for a buffet supper and discussion about forming a friendship group."

Sixty people turned up that night from miles around, and it was obvious that there was a great need for such a group, as this is a tourist area and therefore a shifting population.

It was a lot of work in the beginning, and it seemed that the only way to hold anything together was to take the reins myself and run a weekly 'What's On' in the local magazine. Three years later, I am still here, and many friendships have been formed. It is a commitment, and sometimes it feels like a thankless task, but for the people whose lives have been turned around it has been a blessing. It certainly gives me a purpose in life, trying to think of something each week, but the members themselves get involved and one or two people have opened their homes.

I am not suggesting that everyone should do this, but for those with special interests like art, embroidery, walking, or even just reading, it's possible you can find like-minded people to join you occasionally. It does help to have a computer, and I am lucky that I am able to use modern equipment.

I suggest to anyone in need of company: Seek out others in the same situation. It could change your life.

--Eileen, Algarve, Portugal

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