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Being alone is different from being lonely. You may find yourself alone when you move to a new place where you don’t know anyone or it can be thrust upon you due to circumstances, such as the passing of a loved one. Some of you, like me, may relish your time alone. I like the solitude as I engage in doing things I enjoy.

Loneliness, on the other hand, can leave you feeling neglected or depressed. One reason for this could be the way you interact with people. Let’s say you get into a huge quarrel with someone and instead of coming to a mutual agreement to end it or at least agree to disagree, you decide to stop speaking to that person. If you do this often enough, you could end up with no one around, lonely and bitter at others for causing the rift, not even considering how your actions contributed to the fallout. Pushing people away doesn’t benefit you.

Additionally, jealousy or envy can prevent you from connecting with people, and feelings of resentment can stop you from forming or keeping relationships. But why go this route? Is it really worth it to live your life cut off from family and friends? Then there are the holidays…loneliness can be worse during the holidays if you let go of your friendships. If you are a football fan you would know Joe Namath. Joe sums it up this way. “I used my sporting life to realize we’re all in this together. It would be awful to think that you are alone. We need other people—I need love from others.”

Prolonged loneliness carries health risks, but connection is the most effective way of averting it. We all need the intimacy of relationships, which doesn’t necessarily have to be with a partner but with anyone we bond with who gets us. Develop real friendships by surrounding yourselves with people you can confide in, who make you laugh, comfort you, and lift you up when heartbreak comes. Don’t have close ties to anyone? You can volunteer or get involved in a sport or activity; the point is to keep engaged with people. If your loneliness is just a case of the blues, a quick pick-me-up can be listening and dancing to your favorite music, watching uplifting and comedic shows, or changing your thought patterns. As Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” The ability to feel less alone is in your hands, but you have to make the first move to get out of the lonely state.

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