If you are struggling with loneliness, you’re not alone.
Wikipedia defines loneliness as a complex and unusually unpleasant response to isolation or lack of companionship. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connectedness or commonalty with other people. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. Loneliness has been described as a social pain-a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate him/her to seek social connections.
The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental, or emotional factors. People can experience loneliness for a variety of reasons, such as depression, social anxiety, prior failed relationships, fear of rejection, and low self-esteem. Lonesomeness can occur after the birth of a child, after marriage, moving to a new town, end of a relationship either through divorce or death, and unstable relationships in marriage or family.
Everyone experiences seasons of being alone. Loneliness has intensified in every society as modernization has occurred. Americans seem to report more loneliness than any other country. A 2006 study in the American Sociological Review found that Americans on average had only 2 close friends. The percentage of people who had no such confident rose from 10% to 25%, and an additional 19% said they had only one confident, their spouse. Research has shown that feeling alone is widely prevalent throughout society among people in marriages, relationships, family, and successful careers.
Steps to overcoming loneliness:
- Admit to God that you have felt this way, and ask for His help. Ask for His healing in this area. Maybe you can’t do it, but God can!
- Get to the underlying reasons (roots) of your loneliness. Journal, write it out. Expose the lies the enemy has imposed on you with the truth of God’s Word.
- Join a church (if you have not already), and find a small group or Bible study to attend.
- Consider getting a pet; they are great companions and they can teach you a lot about relationships.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth those friendships and connections that He has for you, and then be open to what He shows you.
- Challenge yourself to take the initiative in social relationships. Ask someone for coffee, they may say no, but they may say yes!
- Reach out to someone who may be lonely. Call or go visit someone who needs human interaction.
- Get involved in a cause in your community and volunteer.
God could be using your time of loneliness to deepen your relationship with Him, and to use this experience to minister to other hurting and lonely people-after all, you know what it feels like.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18