Internet relationships on Facebook and Instagram can ease loneliness, but they can also arouse comparisons and increase the feeling of isolation. In fact at times internet connections make loneliness worse.
Loneliness impacts us all at one time or another. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but the feeling of loneliness lets us know that we are human and that we long for a connection beyond ourselves. It is not an emotion to despise, but to listen to and honor; one which needs tended to.
Loneliness shows up in various places along our life journey. We may experience it in a leadership position. At times it may be isolating in a high level position being the one responsible for making decisions.
We don’t need to be alone to experience loneliness. It can happen at a party, at work, at church. Superficial relationships at times elicit lonely emotions. We may be with others, but find interactions feel empty and shallow.
One of the symptoms of depression is loneliness. Whether depression is caused by overwhelming life events, grief, loss or a biological predisposition, depression can bring feelings of loneliness and isolation. Fatigue and a lack of energy that accompany depression can cause us want to withdraw from friendships and social connections.
Loneliness needs to be faced and talked about. This, of course, is easier said than done. Because of the stigma attached to it, we fear being perceived as weak or needy so we might be reluctant to admit loneliness to ourselves and even more hesitant to discuss it with others. But when loneliness is internalized and suppressed we become more isolated and vulnerable to making unwise choices, seeking solutions in activities that have damaging consequences.
Trevor Hudson, in his book, Beyond Loneliness, says “when we willingly admit that we are lonely, good things can happen. Certainly we start to live more authentic, honest and transparent lives. We may discover people around us who are genuinely interested in forming friendship. Our loneliness can become a source for fresh creativity in our work.”
Sometimes it is good to visualize having a conversation at the table with your feelings. What does loneliness have to say? We wish it wasn’t at the table, but what is it saying to us? And what do we do in order to honor our feelings and care for ourselves?
Loneliness can motivate us to reach out to others who may be experiencing loneliness and would benefit from our friendship and care. It can motivate us to be be proactive in engaging others in meaningful endeavors. In other words, loneliness can be used for something good to happen in our lives and in the lives of others.