ABOUT ONE OUT OF EVERY TWO PEOPLE FEEL LONELY
It doesn’t matter who we are, where we are, or who we are with, at one point or another as many as 40-percent of us will feel lonely.¹ Many people think that family, friends, or romantic partners will insulate them against this painful feeling. Others think money, a title, or a job position will do the trick. Unfortunately, this is not the case. People can feel lonely even when they are interacting with other people! In fact 60-percent of lonely people are married.²
SO WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE LONELY?
Well while it isn’t possible for me to know all the reasons people can feel lonely, I can get you thinking in a productive direction. First, I think people can feel all sorts of painful emotions when they are depressed. Loneliness and emptiness are common feelings when people are depressed. Second, I think people can feel lonely when some of their needs are going unmet. For example, if we are craving the attention of a romantic partner, we are not likely to feel great if we are stuck with a relative or even a friend. These people just can’t meet those kind of needs. Third, sometimes we may actually have people all around us yet still feel lonely. This is often due to the quality of our relationships with them. When we don’t have emotionally intimate, healthy, loving relationships with the people around us, we are not likely to feel connected to them; and this makes us lonely.
We all need to be able to let our defenses (or hair so to speak) down with other people. That means that we can talk to them about how we really feel, and we can share what is really going on in our lives today. Most of the time, this requires that we know the other person well. It is also necessary for that other person to be able to relax around us and be vulnerable with us.
Many people are terrified of being vulnerable with others. After all, what would they think if they learned we feel lonely, empty, or neglected? Some people have such rigid defenses that they cannot dare to be their real selves with others. Sometimes this is due to how they were raised. For example, how emotionally healthy were their parents? Could they relax? Or were they afraid of being rejected or discriminated against? Did they feel shame? Did they speak English? Were they immigrants? Did the family go through financial difficulties etc…? Finally, I think sometimes we are lonely due to faulty thinking. For example, if it’s a Saturday night and we are home alone, an automatic thought that might come to mind is, “Everyone else is out having fun.” This is erroneous thinking, and it can make us feel as though we are missing out on something important.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Well that depends on what the problem is, of course. If we are depressed, we may need to seek professional help. If we really want a boyfriend or girlfriend, then we need to put ourselves in situations where we can find one. On the other hand, if our character is such that we can’t risk being vulnerable with others or if we tend to make a lot of assumptions in our thinking, we may want to consider finding a psychotherapist. If we know why we are feeling lonely yet cannot do much about it, we may need to accept it and focus our time on something that is personally meaningful like spirituality, painting, gardening, etc…. Also, getting a pet can be of great help.
OUR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS ARE IMPORTANT TOO
Many times, when we feel lonely we worry. However, if we are Christians, we may just need to be reminded about what an awesome God we serve. Think about the following verse from the Amplified Bible at BibleGateway.com:
“Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, and of salvation].” – Isaiah 41:10
As I’ve discussed previously, the Holy Spirit is love itself! Jesus promised that He would not leave us alone after He ascended to the Father; He said He would send the Holy Spirit to live inside of us forever. Thus we need to remember this especially when we feel alone: We are never really alone for GOD IS WITH US!
¹, ² Winch, G. (August 21, 2014). 10 surprising facts about loneliness: Pangs that attack your body in ways you never expected. Retrieved April 14, 2018 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201410/10-surprising-facts-about-loneliness.