Loneliness is quite different than being alone. Being alone is being by myself. Just because I am by myself does not necessarily mean I am lonely, because sometimes being alone DOES mean I am lonely. Frequently, we experience loneliness when we sense our lack of importance to other people based on their actions of independence, lack of communication, busyness or agenda.
The definition of loneliness reads “sadness because one has no friends or company; feelings of depression and loneliness; the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation”. I can assure you there is a difference between sadness and depression that many get confused, but that topic would be best for another time. Loneliness can be a companion to either depression or sadness, but not always. Loneliness presents itself in a variety of ways when a disconnection occurs. This disconnection may be a permanent or temporary or perceived change. This disconnection can be considered a loss even if it is only momentary. Losses come in four categories: loss of relationship; loss of residence or change of home; loss of job or financial change and perceived loss. Perceived losses come as a result of the idea that perception is reality.
So to continue this exploration of loneliness, I discovered 7 types of loneliness. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I think it provides something that everyone can relate to:
is felt when you proceed into a new situation.
- Maybe it is an unfamiliar surrounding like in a move or new employment with all new faces.
is felt when you sense you are different from other people.
- Maybe it is a difference in beliefs or values or interests.
is felt when you don’t have that soul-mate or sweetheart connection with
- Maybe it is just knowing this is missing.
is felt when you don’t have a deep connection with an animal.
- Maybe it is grief of missing a pet or not having a pet.
is felt when you feel others don’t have time for you.
- Maybe it is when others appear to have moved on with their lives.
is felt when you begin to doubt or second-guess the trust you place on your relationships
because it doesn’t seem reciprocal.
- Maybe it is the sense of withholding something or holding back something that is surfacing even when everyone is having fun.
is felt when you miss someone just being around.
- Maybe it is the omission of a quiet presence.
Some professionals have addressed loneliness as something wrong that needs to be fixed. There are lists of “cures” that could exacerbate one’s loneliness rather than cure it when attempted without necessary groundwork being completed. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with loneliness. Instead, I address loneliness, along with all emotions and situations, as learning and growth opportunities. To be lonely provides an opening to appreciate who we are, what we value and how we manage our relationships and our lives.
Loneliness does not have to be a constant battle in anyone’s life. Loneliness does not need to lead to fear or frustration. Sometimes, loneliness can forge a path of rationalization or avoidance which keeps us away from our bucket list of dreams and adventures. If loneliness is having a toxic impact on your life, help is available and contacts are welcome.