How can it be that we feel lonely when there are people around us everywhere?
Loneliness in western culture is an epidemic.
We live in an individualistic society which is at odds with how we were born to live – in tribes, groups, and communities – and this can make us feel utterly alone, even when we have others around us.
The fact that we are left to figure things out by ourselves such as raising children, making ends meet, and having a perfect marriage can leave us with a sense of loss – a loss of community, a loss of support, and ultimately, a loss of love.
And according to the National Institute of Aging, social isolation and loneliness isn’t just an emotional issue. It can lead to physical decline and disease such as:
– cognitive ability
– heart disease
– lowered immune system
which makes loneliness and isolation a serious health risk.
But here’s the thing…you may feel lonely, but you are not alone.
When it comes to experiencing social isolation, some estimates believe that around 20% of the US population feels lonely. Like we said, loneliness is prevalent in our society so you are not the only one feeling this way.
However, it’s important for both your mental and physical health to acknowledge and attend to your feelings.
Following are 3 steps Dr. Graves recommends to take when it comes to addressing your loneliness:
1. Be Aware.
The first step in processing your loneliness is to become consciously aware that it exists and then, consider where it stems from.
Ask yourself such questions as:
Do you have past trauma that has not been processed?
Is something preventing you from experiencing social interactions?
Do you feel anxious or depressed?
Are you scared?
Do you feel undeserving?
Many times, answers to these or other questions can begin to uncover the root cause of your loneliness which can provide insight into what needs to be addressed to move forward. Our holistic counselors can begin to uncover the root cause of your loneliness and help you understand.
2. Understand Guilt Versus Shame.
Loneliness may stem from many different reasons and guilt and shame can be high on the list.
Feeling bad about ourselves can encourage loneliness, making us feel unworthy or not loved enough to deserve a sense of support or community.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between guilt and shame.
Guilt is embarrassment or feeling bad about an action, behavior, or choice you made. Shame, on the other hand, is feeling inherently bad about yourself as a human being.
While both can cause social isolation, shame is something that can follow you around for life and can harbor your ability to believe in yourself. Shame is crucial to process and work through, many times with a professional counselor, a meet-up group, or even acupuncture.
3. Change Your Mindset.
When it comes to feeling lonely, it’s easy to have a victim mentality. Someone did something to us, we got the raw end of a deal, no one cares, and the reasons go on.
However, when we change our mindset from feeling like a victim to taking accountability and growing from an experience, we can begin to free ourselves from living at the hands of others.
Do you blame others for your sense of loss or isolation? If so, what responsibility do you take in your situation? What can you do personally to grow from this experience?
“Pain is a motivator for change,” says Dr. Graves. Is it time for you to make changes in your social life in order to improve your emotional and physical health?
Don’t feel that you have to do it all by yourself.
If you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, or the greater Denver metro area and would like support in changing your loneliness, please call us at (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with Dr. Graves or meet with any of our holistic counselors.
It’s time for our culture to embrace each other and our communities with support and love. Together, we can do that one person at a time.