How I kicked Loneliness Out of My Life
By Lorrie Thompson
Topic: Overcoming Loneliness
Recently, two very good friends told me how lonely they are. Each of them is in a completely different circumstance yet suffering from the same problem. One is a man and the other a woman. One has recently lost their spouse and the other lives with family. The loneliness factor has recently been reported to be in epidemic proportions. In fact, a recent study has reported that over half of Americans are feeling lonely or left out. It is across the board in life circumstances and age groups.
A national health insurer surveyed 20,000 people and found that 54% felt that no one actually knew them – really knew them. Loneliness can be a feeling of isolation and a longing for friendships and company. You can be surrounded by other people, yet have no meaningful relationships. What is alarming is loneliness seems to be worse for younger Americans.
According to a recent survey reported by CBS news, those just coming of age, (Generation Z, ages18-22) are the hardest hit. When you combine Millennials, (age 23-37) through the Greatest Generation (those over 72) the overall percentage is still very high. However, I don’t think it is clear why the greatest loneliness is among the younger age groups.
Now we are living in the technical age where people are constantly involved in social media. It seems to be a contest to see who has the most followers on Face Book or Twitter. It doesn’t matter if you have 500 Face Book friends or 5000; that makes no impact or change in feelings of loneliness. What is missing and causing loneliness are personal relationships. We all need someone who can physically look into our eyes and listen to us and know us – know us for who we really are.
I realize all of these facts won’t change things for you, but at least you know you are not alone in your loneliness. The good new is, you can do something about it.
I’d like to share a personal story from my own life. It worked for me and it will work for you. When I entered the 7th grade and began a new school, I looked around and found that I knew no one. My elementary friends had all dispersed to different junior highs and I felt very much alone. I began observing the other students and there was one in particular that I was drawn to. I thought that I would like to have her as my friend. I made a conscious effort to talk to her and to be around her. As history would tell, we ended up being very best friends… so much so that we got our mothers to buy us the same outfits so we could dress alike. We had dinners and sleepovers at each other’s houses, rode our bikes together and took swimming lessons together. We were such good friends that everyone thought we must be sisters.
You might think my example is too simple, but it’s not. I have always been a very shy person. Both of my parents were also very shy. I carried my shyness on into adulthood, but also carried that lesson from my school days. If I want my life to be different it is up to me to change it. In all places and in all circumstances it has worked for me. Take a deep breath if you need to, then go up to someone and say, “Hi, how are you today?” Just begin to be friendly and you will begin to attract friends. Not everyone will be receptive for their own personal reasons, but others will. Keep it up and you will have a number of friends to share a meal with or a problem with. Before you know it there will be someone special that you will know and who will really know you. It will all begin with taking the first step. The first step is to decide to be lonely no more – then take action!