We hear the adage, “ I’d rather be alone than feel lonely with the wrong people. “ The truth is, loneliness is an issue that faces millions of people at one point or another throughout the course of our lives. I write this article, not only as an author and speaker but as a single father of six, who himself has battled and battles loneliness. I’m not a therapist or an academic but a thinking, caring, speaking man, who share these comments from the heart.
Loneliness hurts and can deal many a slow death, leading to physical and psychological maladies. How and why then does it occur. How do we, as a society surrounded by millions of people suffer loneliness? We live in communities, have families and friends around us, yet we feel isolated and alone on many occasion. I process this phenomenon in terms of my own work around Communication. Not talking about what we want and need, how we feel and what we desire. We spend so much of our lives consumed by Fear, as I discuss in my book. We Fear, Rejection, Embarrassment, Failure, Confrontation and in the case of loneliness, we Fear Isolation. Yet, for reasons we may not even be aware of, too often we suffer in silence. Life can be a slippery slope for many.
Reach out for help to combat your loneliness, only to risk the wrath of being perceived as weak and needy. I think we’re less communal than we use to be as certainly much less so than some other world cultures. I speak and share those comments as an American. We’re taught as young boys growing up, not to cry or express your feelings, yet men feel, hurt and need just like everyone else. Reaching out should be seen as a sign of strength, not weakness, The saying, Real men Wear Pink has so many subliminal meanings!
Now that we have in part defined loneliness, how do we combat it? Living in a world of instant gratification, sound bites and over indulgence, I think we need a return to the basics. Statistics show us that the family unit has declined and or been greatly redefined. It’s estimated that over 35 million children will grow up in fatherless homes. We have in many cases turned away from the church and community, once considered to be pillars of our communities. Technology, while brilliant and efficient in its application, makes us more isolated and lonely. Why talk when I can text? Why visit when I can just email or tweet? With every invention and discovery, the pendulum swings both ways. Sadly, technology has made us faster but less socially connected, to family and friends. Stress and pressure isolate and alienate us even more.
While I do expect this fact of life to continue, there are things we can do to slow the tide. Express yourself more frequently. Talk about and ask for what you want and need. Stop worrying so much about how others will perceive and interpret you, realizing, they are dealing with their own ghost! Put yourself out there. Join a club, a team, an organization that share your views, beliefs, and values. The bottom line is to express how things Make You Feel! I tell people all the time, be true to how people and things make you feel, and honor those feelings!
Loneliness is part of life, bigger for some than others but we all have our moments. Don’t be too hard on yourself, we all have crosses to bear, you just can’t see what others are carrying!
To Your Success!