Sustained Loneliness Can Be Life Threatening. Here Are 10 Ways to Escape That Trap

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The human need for connection is both cause and solution to many of our emotional and physical ills. 

Our heart-cry is for deeper, more meaningful and consistent relationships. 

Psychology as a science sometimes seems a little behind-the-times. Doctors in this field have found that people are social beings with a basic need for companionship and connection. This is common sense, and a fact I am sure most human societies have understood from the beginning of time. 

Still, deeper study on human behavior shows the negative physical effects of this unmet need.  In The Dangers of Loneliness , written by Hara Estroff Marano and published at https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/the-dangers-loneliness,  the author writes, “…the effects are distinct enough to be measured over time, so that unmet social needs take a serious toll on health, eroding our arteries, creating high blood pressure, and even undermining learning and memory.

Loneliness occurs when we realize the pain and emptiness isolation creates.  “Chronic loneliness is something else entirely. It is one of the surest markers in existence for maladjustment,” Marano continues. “…The net result is that the lonely experience higher levels of cumulative wear and tear.”

Ten ways to finally escape sustained loneliness

(1) Challenge your expectations. Do not wait for rescue while you shrivel away.  It is not coming, because no one is humanly capable of meeting your every need.  Your mental and emotional health is  your responsibility. Support is a reasonable hope, nevertheless, we often have to find it.  

(2) Don’t be invisible.  Be with people and make a noise. As a quiet person, you may be great. However no one knows this about you unless you speak.  Express who you are in some way that others can understand. Verbally, writing, participating, music, and art are means to this. Avoid  vagueness: no one is a mind reader.

(3) Invite.  Loneliness is both a result and cause of depression, anxiety, and neurosis. In turn, the one who is chronically lonely may incidentally build walls that prevent others from coming in or wanting to.  Invite your neighbors to dinner or tea. Watch sports events, or have an art party.  Love to teach? Volunteer to tutor. 

(4) Be pleasant. Make those amends. Quit complaining. Take your hands off other people’s lives and your nose out of their business. Speak life and encouragement to others so they will want to spend time with you.

(5) Accept invitations  and show up.  Opportunities to get out of your home and head are positive. Your nephew’s piano recital may seem like death to you, go anyway.  Attend  the neighborhood conservation meeting. Watch football with  your grumpy father-in-law.  Hopefully you  find enjoyable events, however, the point is to go out and mingle. Period. 

(6) Make relationships meaningful .  Do your connections lack depth? Insert some. Be vulnerable without whining. Listen actively and look to better understand those around you. Share your hopes and dreams and search for commonalities. 

(7) Invest in people. This is similar to number 6, except this is serving. Give of yourself. Volunteer.  Can you share what fills your days  with others who may also feel lonely? Does a young mother need help with fetching groceries? Does an elderly man need rides? Take the time to exercise number 6.

(8)Compromise.  Wish you could travel and lack of money keeps you home?  Skype, Facetime, email, social media, or old-fashioned letter writing (which is special these days), and occasional phone calls are all means to be with people you miss.  If you don’t have a computer, go to the library. Smile and say hi to people. Many libraries have free classes, too. 

(9) Step past personal pain.  Chronic loneliness. Wow. Have you thought about the implications of that?  Emotional neglect and abuse form a vacuum inside a person that may never feel quite filled.  Isolation, self-inflicted or not, may result.  Anxiety disorders, PTSD,  and general physical and mental limitations are all reasons to reach out for help. It is available.  Call helplines, online volunteer efforts,  churches,  and local resources to ask about help for a specific need. 

(10) Ask positive questions. This list falls short of an even ten. You fill in the blank. What can you do to get your own needs met?    

I know it is difficult. It is doable. I know it is terrifying. Facing the fear brings rewards. Change is hard, even if it is for the positive. Change can set us free. 

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

  • The Dangers of Loneliness By Hara Estroff Marano, published on July 1, 2003 – last reviewed on June 9, 2016; Psychology Today © 1991-2018 Sussex Publishers, LLC | HealthProfs.com © 2002-2018 Sussex Directories, Inc.

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