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How to Handle Loneliness when Loneliness is on the Increase

by Christopher Paul Jones(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 260 - February 2020

 

Loneliness is on the increase, and isn’t just related to the elderly. And the reasons behind the rise in loneliness, is actually really interesting. In this article, Harley Street therapist, Christopher Paul Jones, talks about the issue of loneliness, and looks at what we can do about it.

 

loneliness

 

Why is Loneliness on the Increase?

There used to be a time when we’d associate loneliness with the elderly - but today, as we approach 2020, loneliness affects ALL age groups, and isn’t exclusively related to being solo.

People, particularly teenagers and people in their twenties, report a general feeling of loneliness, due to the ‘social bubble’ of social media. When more and more people are interacting virtually, it’s leaving a gap where real human connection used to be. And having a social network of hundreds of virtual followers, is no substitute for real intimacy.

In fact, it is the rise of social media that I would suggest could be related to the increase in loneliness.

We live life through a lens and have somehow become detached from ourselves; there is almost a dual personality. Us who we are in ‘real life’ and us as we appear say on Facebook- this means that even if we receive a lot of online attention, it doesn’t meet our needs on the inside. And this feeling of isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Of course, it’s not just all down to social media. But we do have to look at the role that this could be playing. There are other issues that I feel play a part here, including the rise of reality TV shows and online dating.

Again, those things are real but somehow not real. And all of the time that we spend watching (and comparing ourselves) to other people, can somehow lead to a false sense of reality, that can give rise to depression, anxiety and loneliness, as our needs are not met on the inside.

Loneliness isn’t just about Being Alone. It’s not Always about Other People.

One other important thing to note about loneliness, is that it’s not always about other people. Things that happened in childhood, for example, can mean that even when we are surrounded by others, we feel an incredible sense of loneliness.

Perhaps it is that we never felt like we were good enough, and don’t really let people close enough. If this is the case, it might be worth speaking to a therapist or counsellor, who can get to the root cause of things.

Often, through self-acceptance, and building your sense of self-worth and confidence, you will find that you lose this feeling of loneliness, whether through allowing yourself to connect with other people, or finding a sense of peace inside yourself.

So what exactly can we do about it?

How can we handle loneliness? Is the answer to get out there and meet people? Or is it more complex than that?

The first thing that we need to do, is to recognize that loneliness may sometimes be a part of everybody’s life - and to some extent, a little loneliness can be normal. However, if it leads to anxiety, depression and begins to affect our mental health then it is time to do something about it.

In fact, nipping it in the bud as soon as possible is the best way to handle loneliness.

But that sounds all well and good in theory - but what can you DO to stop loneliness, if for example, socializing does not come easy for you? Do you just accept your lot and suffer in silence?

I would suggest that the first step in handling loneliness, is to recognize it

This is incredibly powerful and just this step itself, and saying out loud to yourself “I Am Lonely” can put you back in the driver's seat as acknowledgement means that you can do something about it.

Then, look around you, and in your community and see what activities you can do that will help end your feelings of loneliness - look to your local community centre for example and get out to coffee and chat meetings.

Another great tip for meeting people without looking like you are lonely, is to get out there and Help People. Spend time with the elderly, do some voluntary work for your local charity… this can disguise your loneliness, as let’s face it, nobody wants to ‘appear’ lonely, but it can be difficult to get out and meet people.

Look up old friends on Facebook, but DON’T get caught in the cycle of hiding behind your computer, as you can then find yourself in an even deeper web of loneliness.

I would actually recommend to my clients that they look at the time that they are spending on social media and see if they need to curb it. As I discussed above, social media I believe is directly related to the increase in loneliness, so keep a journal for a week or use an app that allows you to track your actual screen time…. You may be surprised at what information comes back to you.

Then, look at better ways to spend this time, and make an effort to get out a little – take up a new hobby, go and learn a new language, or join a sports class… anything, just as a way to get out of the house, get off your phone and actually meet people.

But - I would like to finish this article off, by pointing out that even the people with the biggest social circle can feel incredibly lonely - the solution to loneliness does not simply reside in a large group of people. It’s about finding the right kind of people, so rather than collecting people, go out there and find your people.

It’s about finding peace and happiness, that can only exist within yourself, and putting an end to your loneliness, before looking outside of yourself.

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About Christopher Paul Jones

Christopher Paul Jones Certified Trainer NLP, Master Practitioner NLP, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias; from a fear of public speaking to anxieties around work, Christopher has helped 100s of people ‘let go’ and get their lives back. He even cured his own morbid fear flying, to the extent he was able to take a sightseeing flight through the Pyrenees – strapped to the OUTSIDE of a helicopter! For contact and more information please visit http://christopherpauljones.net
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