In the age of technology, we are more connected than ever, so why do many people still struggle with loneliness? First, let’s define loneliness. Loneliness is need of human connection but not being able to have it. It is a subjective experience and is not the consequence of being physically alone. If you feel lonely, you are lonely. Loneliness occurs when someone perceives their relationships as not fulfilling their social needs. Dr. Andrew Wister from Simon Fraser University believes social media may be partly fueling loneliness by creating a false sense of multiple connections. The list of friends you turn to for social needs is much smaller than your friends list on social media.
Check out Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by neuroscientist John Capiocco and author William Patrick for an in-depth look into the effects of loneliness.
Are you lonely? How do you deal with this?
It is important to accept that feeling lonely is a normal human experience, and there is nothing wrong with you if you experience feelings of loneliness. If you tend to prejudge people’s intentions as negative, or assume social situations are going to go terribly, you may be lonely. Taking time to reflect upon previous interactions with people is helpful in parsing out the negative from the positive. Not every interaction is negative! To build social connections it is imperative to get yourself out there. Go to an event you’ve wanted to go to, or invite someone out for a coffee. If someone reaches out to you, try stepping out of your comfort zone and go with them. Even if a lasting friendship doesn’t emerge, you will have succeeded in practicing your social skills which are useful for future connections.
Access “Compassion Fatigue Resiliency & Recovery” with Dr. Anna Baranowsky & Dr. J. Eric Gentry. You can find the audio recording at:
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