Recently, I participated in a support group dedicated to addressing loneliness.
In that gathering, a troubled gentleman poured his heart out, sharing his overwhelming sense of isolation and his desperate quest for solace. His words struck a chord within me, evoking memories of a time when I, too, grappled with similar emotions.
For years, I remained oblivious to the profound depths of loneliness until the onset of COVID-19 thrust me into a world of social isolation. As someone who has always identified as an introvert with a small circle of friends, my survival had relied on the daily interactions I had at work, the sight of people in the places I frequented, and, of course, the comforting presence of my family during visits.
Covid brought out a hidden side of me that I didn’t know existed. It was a revelation when I found myself trapped in a state of mind that shut out not just others, but even myself.
Later on, I realized that this state of mind extended far beyond the impact of Covid, encompassing something much deeper and more significant.
Here are some insights I discovered about loneliness:
1. It is not just about other people.
Loneliness is not solely dependent on the presence or absence of other people. While social isolation and lack of social connections can contribute to feelings of loneliness, it is not the only factor. Loneliness can also stem from a sense of disconnection, alienation, or emotional unfulfillment, even when surrounded by others.
2. It is about being disconnected with oneself.
Loneliness is like a deep longing that you can’t quite explain. When you are lonely, you feel like you are separate from who you truly are, as if your thoughts and emotions are unheard and unnoticed. It’s a kind of isolation within yourself. It can manifest as a sense of inner emptiness, a lack of self-understanding, or a feeling of being disconnected from one’s own emotions, desires, or values.
3. It is not about being seen, heard, and validated.
Loneliness goes beyond physical presence and encompasses the emotional and psychological aspects of connection. When someone feels lonely, it can indicate a perceived lack of meaningful social interactions where they might feel their thoughts, emotions, and experiences are not understood, acknowledged, or valued by others.
4. It can stem out of a lack of physical intimacy.
Physical intimacy, such as touch and affection, is an important aspect of human relationships. It plays a significant role in fulfilling emotional and physiological needs.
When individuals are in a situation where physical connection is limited, it can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Physical touch and intimacy can provide a sense of closeness, comfort, and connection that is unique and irreplaceable.
Combating loneliness involves embracing a sense of aliveness and finding happiness in the act of experiencing life each day. It entails finding joy and fulfilment in the present moment, appreciating the beauty of the world around you, and engaging with the opportunities that life offers. It is like breathing fresh air all over again with a new sense of purpose in life.
Here are my three key mantras that might help you to combat loneliness:
1. Embrace self-connection. Taking the time for self-reflection and practicing self-care is crucial. By nurturing a deeper understanding and appreciation of yourself, you can diminish feelings of loneliness.
2. Cultivate validating relationships. Surrounding yourself with individuals who genuinely validate, hear, and acknowledge emotions is vital. Building supportive connections with those who understand and care can foster a sense of belonging and alleviate loneliness.
3. Pursue joy and fulfilment. Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfilment is a powerful tool against loneliness. These endeavours can ignite passion, uplift the spirit, provide a sense of purpose, and potentially lead to meaningful connections with like-minded individuals.
Loneliness has diverse root causes that vary between individuals—including a lack of social connections, relationship challenges, loss or absence of loved ones, life transitions, and low self-esteem. You need to identify and acknowledge the cause for loneliness to address it. It is important to identify the connection between loneliness and mental health conditions. When loneliness arises from underlying mental health issues, seeking appropriate medical help is crucial for finding support and relief.