This article is for the people who feel incurably alone and are suffering because of it. It’s about the cases when loneliness has turned into a true prison, even if it’s invisible to everyone else. Life has brought these people to a point where they don’t have friends or family, just functional, temporary bonds. But if this is you, and you’ve found yourself in this position, you probably don’t know what to do to find people you feel close to, people you can trust.
“Pay attention: a lonely heart is not a heart.”
The scenario we just described unfortunately isn’t unusual. There’s actually a true epidemic of loneliness going on all over the world. And it looks like its growing. So many people have advocated for individualism that we’ve ended up creating a reality where personal isolation is becoming more and more normal. There are millions and millions of people in the world who feel chronically alone. It’s a condition that goes beyond age, nationality, or social status.
Chronic loneliness, a muffled pain
We’re not really sure exactly when this idea that absolute “independence” was a desirable virtue started to develop. People will tell you over and over that you shouldn’t depend on anyone. It’s best if you can overcome all hardships on your own. Ideally you’ll live alone, grow your own garden, have your own business, and not need anyone. In fact, too much intimacy or closeness starts to seem like a threat, because people confuse it with dependence. Why do we run away from this word, from our nature, when deep down we’re all dependent in one way or another?
The result of all this is the world we have now, where personal company is being sold. There are various places in different countries that offer accompaniment services, not just sexual, but also personal. Nowadays you can rent out the services of someone who will talk to you for a while, or go out and see a movie with you. If there’s a supply that means there’s a demand. And if there’s a demand it’s because we’re missing something that we used to counteract naturally.
The effects of loneliness aren’t always easy to see. It always leaves a mark on your mind and body, it just might be that the mark doesn’t show up immediately. One of these effects is especially dangerous. We’re talking about the changes that start happening to our brains. When you spend too much time alone, without you even realizing it you’ll start to see other people’s faces as a threat.
That’s truly tragic. It means that the more alone you are, the more alone you’ll stay. And it’s not even because you chose to be, but because your anatomy and physiology are changing. That’s where the wall really closes you in. And that’s when you start to be at risk for becoming physically and/or mentally ill.
Knocking down the wall of loneliness
Like we said, it’s very serious when someone is alone and stays that way for a long time. After that they’ll come up against internal resistance to getting out of their loneliness. They’re not reasons in the strictest sense of that word. They’re more like excuses. “There’s no one who’s worth the effort,” they say. Or, “We all die alone, anyway,” they’ll add. What they don’t talk about are the moments when they’re taken over by fear or sadness. Basically they’ve resigned themselves to something they’ve accepted but never tried to change.
Chronic loneliness causes sickness. There are a lot of studies that establish this idea. We know that our immune system gets inflamed and falls apart. There’s a clear link between loneliness and a premature death. Lonely people are generally sicker and more fragile.
You can’t overcome loneliness with more social media connections. There are also a lot of people who don’t live alone, but do feel alone. The most important aspect here isn’t really the amount of people you’re in contact with. The important thing is the quality of the bonds you create. Learning to be a good friend and make good friends is an act of survival and self-love. All human relationships need to have a component of sincere friendship, even if it’s higher in some relationships than others.
Human beings are social creatures. Chronic loneliness goes against our nature and doesn’t come from any need or real desire. If you feel alone, if you can’t create bonds with other people, something isn’t right. The problem might be in how you were educated, or some subjective problem you haven’t resolved. It might even just be that you haven’t developed your social skills or don’t know where to start. Whatever the case, this much is clear – if your loneliness is chronic, you need help. Go and look for it, there’s no shame in that.