Loneliness is a fact of life. As long as we are mortal humans we will be faced with it. Each of us will struggle with it at some point in our lives.
Loneliness is felt in many different ways. It could be the pain of the individual living alone. It could be the sense of failure that follows an unhappy experience. Or it could come when a person feels painfully aware of his inability to relate with people in a way, which brings real satisfaction. Although it would be splendid if we could simply ignore it and wait for it to go away, we are only kidding ourselves if we do so.
There are many different ways in which loneliness enters our lives, but we can win victory over loneliness.
Definition of loneliness
Loneliness is a state of feeling that one is not accepted or does not belong. It implies varying degree of emotional pain, an empty feeling, a yearning to be with someone, restlessness.
Let us briefly look at five general cause of loneliness.
- . Isolation from God.
It has been said that there is a God-vacuum in each of us. Men may deny it; they may fight it. But they cannot fill the lonely void that only God can fill. Many Christians experience this loneliness because sin has broken their fellowship with God, their heavenly father.
- . Our Changing society
We live in a society that tends to promote loneliness. Our society is fast, mobile and changing. Every year 20% of the families in American move. We may come into contact with many people, but there is not enough time to build relationships, and so people are lonely.
Also, because of television there is much less time for personal communication. Even the little time people have for each other in our society is often spent in loneliness in front of a television set. Research shows that excessive television watching also causes individuals to trust others less and thus promotes even more loneliness. Our changing environment also has produced a new set of values, such as excessive individualism and independence that encourages loneliness.
- . Rejecting others
Some people are lonely because they have rejected others. For various reasons such as their own pride, inferiority complex or shyness, they have rejected others. Many people are afraid to be open with others for fear that if they are open they will be rejected. So in order to avoid rejection, a person may reject others before they have a chance to reject him. What it boils down to, is that, people frequently reject others because they do not like or accept themselves.
- . Being rejected by others
Some people are lonely because others have rejected them. Perhaps they have a critical spirit and others do not want to be around them. Perhaps they are victims of circumstances; for example, a wife who is neglected by a busy husband. Perhaps, it may not be their fault at all; for example, the Christian who is being rejected by his non-Christian friends because of his Christians values.
- . Neglect in childhood
It is amazing how our society has failed in its responsibilities to its children. In our culture people divorce; fathers are too busy for their children. The results are devastating.
The victim of loneliness
Each of us has at least two basic personal needs. 1) a. need to be loved and valued 2) a need to feel a sense of social belonging. Failure to meet either one of this needs makes us susceptible to lonely feelings.
Since we each have different personalities and different social circumstances, our experiences of loneliness will differ, but the feeling is basically the same. Because of our personal imperfections and because of society’s imperfections, we will all come face to face with these emotions during our lives. Even with secure emotional attachment we may feel intensely lonely when circumstances in their lives are not to our liking. There is nothing shameful about admitting loneliness. Loneliness is not necessarily an indication that there is something very wrong with a person. The more afraid we are of it, the more devastating it can be when it comes. While respecting it as a sign that things are not perfect in our world, we should remember that it is also a normal response to non-fulfillment of emotional and social needs. There is a common wrong idea that loneliness is a problem peculiar to the aged. Statistics prove otherwise.
Among married people- 14% women and 9% men reported lonely feelings.
Among single adults- 27% women and 23% men reported loneliness
Divorced people- loneliness is the most common of their negative feelings.
Teenage- adolescent has the most problem with loneliness.
In the next article we will examine how different groups of people are affected by loneliness.
Rose Corner with Rose HANSEY