Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alone but Not Lonely

but Not Lonely
In this series:
Why So Many Lonely People?
Coping With Loneliness
When No One Will Ever Feel Lonely Again
What You Can Do About Loneliness
Related topics:
Empathy—Key to Kindness and Compassion
How to Make Real Friends
Comfort for the Elderly
Why So Many Lonely People?

IN TODAY'S society, many experience loneliness. It affects people of all ages and of all races, social strata, and creeds. Have you ever been lonely? Are you lonely now? Actually, all of us at one time or another have felt the need for companionship—for someone to lend us an ear, to offer us reassurance or possibly to echo our deep feelings or inner thoughts, and to understand us as a person. We have a need for someone who is sensitive to our emotions.

Being alone, though, does not necessarily mean that we are lonely. A person can be alone for a long period of time, enjoying the things he or she does, without feeling at all lonely. In contrast, there are those who cannot stand to be alone. The American Heritage Dictionary states: "Alone emphasizes being apart from others but does not necessarily imply unhappiness. . . . Lonely often connotes painful awareness of being alone . . . Lonesome emphasizes a plaintive desire for companionship," that is, a condition of grief, woe, or melancholy. The person's heart needs to be comforted with sincere and loving fellowship for it to be cheerful once again. Finally, solitary is defined as a condition that "often shares the connotations of lonely and lonesome . . . Frequently, however, it stresses physical isolation that is self-imposed."

Changes in life, from attending a new school to losing a mate, can cause loneliness

Loneliness is a powerful feeling, and it can be very painful. It is a feeling of emptiness. There is a sensation of isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other humans. We can become vulnerable and frightened. Have you ever felt this way? What causes loneliness?

Problems, situations, and conditions have diverse effects on people. Perhaps you feel rejected by your peers because of your physical appearance, race, or religion. Changes of environment—such as attending a new school, initiating a new job, or moving to a new neighborhood, city, or country—can bring a sense of loneliness because you have to leave old friends behind. Experiencing the loss of a parent or a marriage partner can result in loneliness, possibly for many years. Also, as we get older, our circle of friends and acquaintances changes, decreases, or disappears.

Marriage does not always ensure freedom from loneliness. Mutual misunderstanding or lack of compatibility may cause stress that can produce uncertainty and may even result in isolation for spouses and children. But apart from loneliness caused by the death of a loved one, divorce, or physical or emotional isolation, there is another kind of loneliness that can affect us very deeply. This occurs when our relationship with God suffers and we feel separated from him.

Have you experienced any of the situations mentioned above? Is it possible to cope with loneliness?

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