15 Facts You Need to Know About Loneliness

  • 0

If you’ve ever experienced loneliness or currently do, you are aware of how difficult it is to deal with. There’s a good chance you’d like to find a solution to lessen the suffering of feeling alone, whether it’s a new emotion for you, something brought on by recent changes in your personal circumstances, or a more persistent feature of your existence.

Being alone is a big part of what loneliness is all about, but you can also feel alone when you’re surrounded by your closest friends and family members. Feelings of loneliness can include the conviction that no one truly cares about you deeply or meaningfully, that no one needs you, or that you have no one to turn to for help when you need it.

What Does Loneliness Look Like?

“An unpleasant and distressing subjective phenomenon which arises when one’s desired level of social relations differs from their actual level in number or quality,” according to Phoebe McKenna-Plumley and colleagues (2023) at Queen’s University Belfast (p. 1). They point out that there isn’t much published research on its “lived experience,” despite its significant impact on people’s daily lives.

In other words, while the scientific description is fine and dandy, what actually happens to those who experience loneliness on a regular basis while they battle these uncomfortable emotions?

Upon considering the transition from defining loneliness to studying it, one may realize that precisely capturing the intrinsic distinction between “actual” and “desired” may prove challenging. The amount of persons in a person’s social network can be counted by researchers, but this doesn’t always indicate whether or not that person feels lonely. In order to address that internal experience, the Queens University team thinks qualitative approaches—which examine the language people use to express their subjective states—are essential.

Since that social relationships evolve through time, considering a person’s life stage is another crucial component in researching loneliness. Culture is another potentially significant element. For example, in a civilization that values individualism greatly, the sensation of being alone may have a different meaning than in a culture that places a strong emphasis on community.

The 15 Loneliness Facts

With this context in mind, the writers proceed to discuss their quest for the fundamental characteristics of loneliness as seen from within by people of all ages and ethnicities. A thorough evaluation of previously published qualitative studies that complied with stringent research requirements was part of this search. The 1,321 participants in the final set of 29 research ranged in age from 7 to 103 years old and represented a variety of nationalities.

Using a fairly conventional coding scheme, McKenna-Plumley et al. worked between “primary codes” and “descriptive themes.” The idea that “loneliness has emotional features,” for instance, is related to primary codes that contain assertions like fear, grief, boredom, hopelessness, and loss in the data. Additional assertions about an individual’s socio-political environment may affect another “theme” (COVID-19 was a good illustration of such an influence). The possibly hundreds of assertions in the data were then classified by the authors into digestible themes known as “analytical” themes. The analytical theme in this instance was “loneliness is both psychological and contextual.”

This thorough investigation produced 15 themes, which offer fresh information regarding the inner sense of loneliness. Here is a basic synopsis of them:

  1. Being alone is an unpleasant feeling. Many compare loneliness to a “nasty disease” and say it’s a condition they’d rather not have. Even worse, folks are afraid of coming across negatively when they talk to others about how lonely they are.
  2. There are emotional aspects to loneliness. “The emotions that came alongside loneliness were a key aspect of the experience,” as the authors put it (p. 11). The aforementioned topic encompassed not only the multitude of negative emotions that people report experiencing, but also sentiments of shame and jealousy.
  3. There are cognitive and perceptual aspects of loneliness. Lonely people blame themselves and think they’re not as good as other people. Time seems to stop totally, move too slowly, or move too swiftly to those who are lonely.
  4. Identification and personality have an impact on loneliness. People who are lonely may begin to identify as weak and alone, and they may also attribute their loneliness to aspects of their nature, such as timidity or introversion.
  5. There is a connection between loneliness and certain relationships—or lack thereof. When a relationship ends, such as with the death of a spouse, or when family members relocate, loneliness may result. The term “unattached” for unmarried persons is one example of how culture can influence behavior. If someone feels that they’re “different” from other members of their social network, they may also experience loneliness.
  6. Being alone is correlated with having few deep, meaningful relationships. Individuals must believe that they and other people genuinely understand one another, rather than just sharing a surface-level connection.
  7. Disconnection-related sentiments can be a part of loneliness. People may feel that they are truly unique from one another in addition to feeling distinct from one another. More generally, when someone feels cut off from the world, loneliness can take on an existential character.
  8. Bad experiences with other people are a part of loneliness. When people intentionally reject them, as in the case of being bullied as children or treated disrespectfully and abusively as elderly adults, it might leave them feeling lonely.
  9. A component of loneliness is social comparison. When you’re alone and see other people enjoying themselves, it can make you feel depressed and alone. The idea that you haven’t had the kinds of connections that you think your culture expects you to have—for example, those who don’t marry or start families in accordance with expectations—is another example of a social comparison.
  10. Aloneness, isolation, and solitude are related to loneliness, although they are not the same. These differences highlight the psychological aspect of loneliness. While isolated and alone is possible, loneliness is not. Positive feelings can arise from solitude, or from “chosen and enjoyed aloneness.” Among the statements that fit under this topic was the subgroup related to lack of control.
  11. Transitions and experiences in life might cause loneliness. A few of the major events that fit under this category are divorce, retirement, relocation, and bereavement. This is where COVID-19 enters in, since many people had to spend months away from friends and family due to lockdowns.
  12. The length, nature, and intensity of loneliness vary. Some people experience loneliness all the time; it’s nearly a personality trait. However, depending on their exposure to triggering events, persons may also experience varying degrees of loneliness at specific times.
  13. Certain situations can give rise to feelings of loneliness. Everyday occurrences such as weekends, holidays, winter, and evenings can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. People may make negative comparisons during these periods, which also tend to be less busy (e.g. spending a holiday alone).
  14. Problems with one’s physical or mental health might have an impact on loneliness. Individuals who experience physical illness, such as major surgery or a life-threatening catastrophe, may feel both alone and “different” from others around them. Feelings of loneliness are, by definition, impacted by depression and anxiety.
  15. Politics and society have an impact on loneliness. As was already said, major occurrences like the pandemic and societal perceptions of the group you belong to, like becoming the object of a “ism,” can both cause loneliness.

Countering Loneliness

A number of themes that offered solutions to combat this unpleasant emotional state were found in the studies along with the variables that contribute to loneliness. These included adopting pets, which are known to help people experience a feeling of connection, and turning to religion (including joining a religious group). There are other useful strategies to combat loneliness, such as lending a hand to others and making small talk with strangers.

On the inside, the motifs found in these research also point to potential directions for creating tools that can prevent loneliness. Those who were older in particular suggested that it was their duty to deal with loneliness, especially by making an effort to socialize or meet new people.

The results also suggest that how you spend your time can work against loneliness. Weekends spent alone should be punctuated by enjoyable activities that may also have the added advantage of helping others. Exercise, which is well recognized to improve mental health in general, may also act as an antidote by strengthening physical health and warding off illness.

In summary, recognizing the signs of loneliness might be the first step toward lessening its pain. You may choose your own path to fulfillment, but it can be paved with feelings of gratitude.

If you’ve ever experienced loneliness or currently do, you are aware of how difficult it is to deal with. There’s a good chance you’d like to find a solution to lessen the suffering of feeling alone, whether it’s a new emotion for you, something brought on by recent changes in…

If you’ve ever experienced loneliness or currently do, you are aware of how difficult it is to deal with. There’s a good chance you’d like to find a solution to lessen the suffering of feeling alone, whether it’s a new emotion for you, something brought on by recent changes in…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *