Loneliness vs Aloneness
Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Aloneness is a choice. There are times when we all may choose to be alone for certain times or experiences. Aloneness is contentment in being on your own. Loneliness is the pain of being alone while desiring companionship or presence of another.
Why am I so lonely?
There are many reasons a person may feel lonely. Often a period of loneliness accompanies or follows a period of circumstantial loss. Leaving home to attend college or following the breakup of a dating or marriage relationship produces a loneliness. Loneliness can even be experienced within an unhappy relationship.
The loss by death of a parent, a sibling, a spouse or even an unusual financial change that causes one’s lifestyle to be completely disrupted, can cause loneliness and grief. The loss of a job or of an enviable position in the community may leave an emptiness and lonely void. Losses that are not properly addressed may contribute to a seemingly perpetual loneliness.
Loneliness can be a feeling, conceived in childhood, that you are unworthy, not good enough, not pretty enough to attract friends or suitors or acclaim. Or it may be a feeling, warranted or unwarranted, that your parents never did think you would be a success.
Remember loneliness is an emotion: being alone is a condition of being content to be on one’s own
What causes loneliness?
- Loneliness is a state of being unhappy in being alone.
- Loneliness can be present even when you are in a crowd or even in a relationship where there is not acceptance and communication.
- One can be lonely at a large and fun event or even while participating in a project. It may be a feeling of not being understood, not being accepted, fear of not measuring up to expected standards – even to the point of feeling as if it will be this way forever.
- Loneliness may be a feeling of shame that you still carry rather than confessing it. Jesus stands ready to forgive as quickly as we confess. The load is quickly lifted. Joy follows. We were not meant to live a life of condemnation but rather a life of forgiveness through grace.
- These feelings of loneliness may be transient but no less real in new situations, new jobs, new environment. When we feel no one “gets me” or when we may feel invisible (for whatever reason), loneliness takes over and tries to convince us of the perceived fallacy that we will never fit in. The lonely person turns within and begins to have even more self-doubt and find more reasons for a disconnect.
- We were made for belonging – to family, to groups, to a church or perhaps to volunteer organizations. Find your place in one or more of these. You then can make a difference in others’ lives as well as your own.
How to deal with loneliness
I have known loneliness – deep and painful loneliness. My husband died suddenly and at a young age. We had a powerful love affair and had raised three great kids together. He was a romantic and we shared most of our time away from work together. He was a great conversationalist and fun to be with. That sudden heart attack left a hole in my heart and a void in my life.
Even at the darkest time of my grief, I knew that God was going to see me through. Through His grace, I had been a believer and follower of Christ for many years. I knew that He was not going to abandon me. I grieved deeply; but I somehow knew that God had plans for me and work for me still to do.
How to overcome the loneliness of grief
That did not remove the pain and sadness. It was a struggle to work through grief. Things are never the same. I had to rediscover my identity. I was lonely and needy. Friends and family comforted me. But God gave me a purpose and the strength and courage to continue living the abundant life – just in a different scenario.
I was and still am alone. But my life has not continued to be lonely. My family and then later grandchildren have revitalized my every day. I was given opportunity to travel, to develop a non-profit, to meet interesting people and have a full life. Not my choice, but rich rewards, nevertheless.
God is waiting to fill your life with purpose and joy!
For Jesus has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-8
Is loneliness harmful to a person?
Ongoing loneliness can be harmful to a person’s physical health. Studies show that a hug or just feeling the touch of a hand on the shoulder is conducive to lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Continued loneliness that may develop into escapism from other people is known to weaken the immune system.
God made Adam a wife to be His partner. We all need a parent, a friend, a mate, or a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people to complement who we are or can be, and to increase our ability to love others and be a benefit to the world. You can learn how to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life.
How to overcome the depression of loneliness through community
Every person has a purpose for being here and a place to fill. Understanding our individual worth and finding a place of belonging and a reason for being can work toward ending loneliness. Belonging can help help with overcoming the depression that can come with loneliness.
Even children who have loving parents are also ready to relate to a kind and loving teacher. They look forward to the teacher’s favor and affirmation.
The innate desire to belong and to have close friends motivates most people to reach out. We learn to be community by increasing our share time with others. We become less judgmental and more productive.
Reaching out to develop a relationship ignites that same miracle of affirmation needed by the other person. Relationships are healthful, meaningful, and helpful.
How God can help you with loneliness
A desire for a relationship with God is planted within us. We will never be content, satisfied or feel complete until we open the doors of our heart and let Jesus become our nearest and dearest friend as well as our savior. Do not miss having the presence of God with you wherever you go. You can learn how to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
What are the signs of loneliness?
- Avoiding contact with people
- isolating oneself
- declining invitations
- hopelessness may indicate deepening loneliness.
- unhappy to be alone, yet paralyzed by fear of reaching out
Self-deprecation reduces the self-confidence needed. Isolation reduces the essence of who you are and what draws people to you. Low energy and lack of self- care may occur. Unwise eating habits and detrimental use of alcohol may develop.
You may immobilize yourself by turning your thoughts inward thinking you are the reason for your loneliness, rather than looking outward and finding things that may interest you.
However, finding like-minded friends can change your approach to life and open the door to happiness and joy.
Conversely, others who are lonely may be mixers and go through the motions of being involved, and yet feel a disconnect.
They have no sense of belonging or of being accepted. One study shows that 76% of adults who identify as lonely are married but have no intimacy in their marriage. They may feel incomplete, unappreciated, and unknown. Such a waste of the wonderful time we are granted to nourish relationships and share the joy of living.
How to fight loneliness when your spouse dies
When a spouse dies, the survivor may feel abandoned and deserted for some time. When a marriage of several years is broken by death, the remaining partner may feel like only half a person. Loneliness is so devastating. The survivor feels sure that no one has ever felt a loss like this. Quickly they learn to bury that grief in order to get on with life. Others think they are doing well; therefore, they do not extend the listening ear and helping hand that is still needed. The widow unconsciously avoids the risk of connecting emotionally and draws inwardly into loneliness.
Early grief counseling can thwart this unhealthy withdrawal. Always reach out for any available help. Caring and wise counseling is available at many churches or community centers.
We are fellow travelers through this life. Our guide and our shepherd through this life is Jesus, available to each one of us who recognize our need.
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
How to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life
Loneliness may sometimes lead to severe depression that warrants a medical doctor’s evaluation and care. Medications can be prescribed to alleviate anxiety and depression.
Often, loneliness can be countered by self-evaluation leading to taking steps to become involved with another person or persons. Determining to live authentically, while seeking to engage with people who value the same ideals, can develop satisfying relationships.
Being involved in common community service projects, mentoring children, joining in sports teams, even inviting someone for a coffee break can lead to a feeling of connecting again. Putting oneself into the arenas where one desires to be is a step forward
Making friends and becoming a part of a group is conducive to finding the person possessing the qualities that you would want in a marriage relationship or an ongoing and rewarding friendship.
Recognizing and self-affirming that you possess valuable inner qualities as well as learned abilities can give you just the increased confidence to make yourself known and available. Being cognizant of the fact, that even those who seem to have it all together have periods of fear and self-doubt, and realizing that we all need each other, buoys us up for more joyful living.
It is It is essential to move forward, explore new interests, seek to make new friends and to purposely interact with the world.
Share positive news. Reach out to others. Expect warmth and connection. Give others a break – they too may be having a bad day. Purposely begin to retrain yourself to be involved in making this a better world. The returns are enormous and worth the effort. You can learn how to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life.
Laughter is a great anecdote to loneliness
- Laughing with another person or with a group, playing a game, sharing a meal – all of these tend to release the inner tensions and allow people to know the real you.
- Finding like interests produces a feeling of belonging and raises spirits.
- It is good to “belong” – whether to family, a work group, with friends or a church group. You will be welcomed.
- Take the first step. You can do it.
Is loneliness a modern-day epidemic?
- Admitting loneliness is thought to be a sign of weakness, of insecurity, lack of strength and/or skills, an insipid character trait. However, it is much more prevalent than the world at large may think.
- The lonely person develops a persona of self -control and offers no entry into her life, thus compounding the pain she carries.
- In the crowded cities, the lonely go unnoticed. Everyone has his own agenda. No time for reaching out. No interest in becoming involved. Nothing to offer.
- But then there is the faith community where everyone is an individual and it is there that we hope and dare to be ourselves. It is there that we find understanding and encouragement and a new take on life.
Is loneliness an epidemic? Perhaps it is an undercover epidemic. In a softer more caring society, loneliness is recognized and addressed: hope and joy can return to an individual. You can learn how to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life.
Experience community, seek the abundant life and share it with someone who is still struggling.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Where is God in my loneliness?
God desires to and offers to come into our hearts to forgive us and be with us. He has plans for our good. He indwells us with His Holy Spirit. It is after that transaction is made through believing that Jesus died for our sins that He can bear fruit in us – fruits of love, joy, peace, kindness and patience.
God promises He will never leave us and that He will be with us through all eternity.
When we are feeling lonely, we need to seek His power in our lives to hold us up, to help us to help others and to share His love. His love is amazing. His peace is divine.
When we learn to reach out to others, we find the joy of getting to know people in a deeper and more transparent way. We in turn can open our lives to those we trust. We can develop meaningful relationships that alleviate the loneliness in our lives. We are then community. You can learn how to overcome loneliness and find meaning in your life.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy
Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20