One of the biggest problems in western society is loneliness. It’s tragic to think of people suffering such sadness. The fear of being alone causes many people to stay in dysfunctional relationships and toxic friendships. This despite knowing that it’s possible to feel very alone in an unhappy marriage.When we suffer loneliness, it is easy to doubt our self worth and feel full of regrets.

There are two points to consider when thinking about loneliness. First, how can we deal with our own loneliness and second, how can we help others feel less lonely?

Some people need others around them all the time. If they have to spend one night alone, they feel lonely. Obviously, the answer here would be to learn to self-soothe the anxiety they must feel if they’re on their own. For those who are staying in a dysfunctional relationship for fear of being alone, some time learning to survive as a single person is probably just what’s in order.

Loneliness can be a sign that something much deeper is going on. Depression can often create a sense of loneliness, especially since social withdrawal is one of the most common symptoms. Loneliness can also be caused by the sense of abandonment that can follow neglect or abuse as a child. If you are often feeling lonely, despite having friends or family around, it might be worth exploring the cause in counselling.

By focusing on how to help others deal with loneliness, we can also help ourselves. A greater sense of well-being is experienced when we feel connected to other people. On the surface, we appear to crave success, but deep down, most of us just want to feel worthwhile. Why not take the time to talk to an elderly neighbour or invite the single people in your block over for a drink? Make a point of smiling and saying hello to a passer-by. Stop and have a chat to that acquaintance who always appears to be on their own. If we all aimed to create a greater sense of community, there would be less loneliness in the world.

Although we need to learn to sit with occasional feelings of loneliness, no one should have to feel alone all the time.

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