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Why Do We Feel Lonely?

What is Loneliness?  

There is a formal definition of loneliness that can be easily found but in every day life I often hear people say that they don’t feel likeable, that they are unloveable or broken and that they don’t have any meaningful relationships. I hear people say that they feel invisible, that they are numb and if they disappeared tomorrow, no one would notice and people don’t care. 

Why do we Feel Lonely?

Vivek outlined three different reasons why we feel lonely:

  1. Intimate or emotional loneliness is the need for a close confidant or intimate partner, someone with whom you share a deep mutual bond of affection and trust. 
  1. Relational or social loneliness is the desire for quality friendships, and social companionship and support. 
  1. Collective loneliness is the desire to connect to a community of people who share your sense of purpose and interests.

These reasons explain that even when we have have deep connections with people in our lives we can still feel lonely in certain situations. For example, I went to a workshop a couple of months ago and I didn’t know anyone there. As I was walking into the lecture theatre, I wondered where I could sit and whether anyone would talk to me. I was nervous and in that moment, I felt socially lonely. Many of the participants in that workshop were with their work colleagues and for me, in that moment, it would have been nice to have some support and companionship. 

Loneliness in Modern Society

During the podcast, Vivek discussed how modern societies and cultures are increasingly focusing more on independence, power and wealth. This gives out the message that our worth is conditional and if we don’t have all these things then less people will want to be around us. If we don’t meet these expectations then we can feel ashamed. When we feel ashamed, we hide away and stop talking to one another and this in turn makes us more isolated and afraid to connect.

 

 

How Can I Stop The Feeling of Loneliness? 

One of the antidotes to loneliness is making a connection to someone else and these can take a variety of forms. It is knowing about someone’s values, past experiences, visual cues, body language. We assess people when we meet them, would I like to hang out with you? Can I relate to you? Would you like to hang out with me? This is harder to do when we interact with people online and it’s impossible to do via social media because we just don’t get that vital information to make that assessment. 

When we connect with others in person, we have the opportunity to build up our confidence. We can do more, we feel as though we belong, and we don’t have to carry that heavy load by ourselves. It’s important to reflect on these good moments. What did I like about that interaction? What happened there and do I want more of that?

One note of caution though, we have to be careful if we are lacking in confidence as we can spend time with another person seeking reassurance that the other person wants to be with us and we’re good enough rather than focusing on developing our connections. If we just notice that is happening, then we can stop it and reflect. What happened there, what’s going on for me, am in a bad place right now? 

There are many ways in which we can develop personal face to face connections. For example , joining a dance or exercise class, volunteering, shopping regularly at the same place and paying at a manned checkout. There are also many websites that we can use for when we feel lonely and need a bit of guidance. One particular organisation with a website that I’d recommend is the Marmalade Trust.

Sometimes we also need a bit of support when we feel lonely. It is especially helpful if loneliness is making us feel depressed or anxious. If you would like more information about how CBT can help, please contact us here. 

Latest from Twitter

Everyday ways to look after your mental wellbeing:
🙏 Check in with yourself
🌦 Make space for all your emotions
💕 Be open with others
😴 Say no to being busy all the time

https://www.stylist.co.uk/health/mental-health/everyday-mental-maintenance-wellbeing-tips/659734 @StylistMagazine

It is so important to make time to appreciate the small gifts of each day. As the only thing we know for sure is we will not have today again. #gratitude #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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