Loneliness is something most of us fear, yet most of us have felt it at some time or another. However it’s still a something of a taboo subject as we rarely talk about.
So what exactly is loneliness?
To feel lonely is to be overwhelmed by an unbearable feeling of separateness, at a very deep level. To some degree, it is a totally normal emotion, a part of growing up. At birth, we all start the process of separation, the growth towards becoming individuals. Also, from our earliest months, as awareness of our separateness dawns upon us, the parallel need to seek relationship begins.
It’s a balancing act, between the search for intimacy and an acceptance of isolation that continues throughout life. However smoothly our life has moved from birth to adulthood, there’s bound to be times in our lives when this process of growing up, of becoming separate selves, feels difficult; times when we feel anxious, abandoned, unloved, insecure. i.e. we feel lonely.
Many classify aloneness and solitude as the same thing, and think of them as negative things. Mention the word “lonely” to many people and they’ll imagine an isolated figure huddled in a corner, but in reality being alone is not the same as being lonely. There are in fact a lot of people who happily choose solitude as a way of life – Some people need to be alone to allow creativity to blossom.
Some Causes of Loneliness
The particular stresses of modern life tend to make people particularly vulnerable to loneliness. Changes in employment practice, health problems, a rising divorce rate, it’s easier to move house these days, and many people of various ages live alone these days, have all caused many people to suffer the pain of loneliness.
We live in a world which is full of inequalities – a world in which many people feel excluded. When people feel excluded, they feel as though they have no voice as so feel powerless, disregarded and lonely.
Many people still treat single parents, homeless people, unemployed, homeless and those with mental health problems in a negative way, usually through ignorance. However by treating them in this way they can feel even more isolated. I can make them feel as if the circumstances they find themselves in that is ultimately at the root of their loneliness, is somehow their own fault.
I’ve said it before in my blog, but it really is so true, it really is possible to feel lonely in a crowd. It may be a surprise to hear that even those who are always surrounded by people may still feel desperately lonely and may in fact have an active social life, a busy job, a stable relationship, and a family.