We don’t have to be physically by ourselves to feel alone. In fact the most serious loneliness happens when we are surrounded by people, but feel isolated. We can’t connect and we feel misunderstood.
Research coming out of Brigham Young University in America suggests that feeling lonely and socially isolated has a similar influence on health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s connected to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, dementia, and early death.
Remember, loneliness isn’t about how many people we know, but how connected we feel.
If you’ve been telling yourself that you shouldn’t be lonely as you have friends, then stop and ask some good questions.
1. Therapy is actually a relationship.
For many people their therapist becomes their first relationship where they can be themselves and relate in healthy ways. This can give you the courage to try new ways of relating outside of therapy.
2. Therapy helps you learn to trust.
Bit by bit, you develop trust for your therapist. For many of us, it’s our first experience of a truly trusting relationship. It can give us the confidence to trust others, too.
3. Therapy helps you see how you learned to be lonely.
We aren’t born lonely, but we can certainly learn how to be so. An easy example here would be if you had a parent who had social anxiety and trusted nobody. You’d learn as a child to not trust others. Or perhaps you had a parent who was never around. Loneliness became what you are used to, so you recreate it in your adult life.
4. You’ll get to the root of your loneliness.
Some of us experience trauma in life. And traumas like sexual abuse damage our ability to trust others. We walk through life feeling disconnected, lost, and deeply alone. Therapy helps you identify and process any past trauma.
5. Therapy gives you tools that help combat loneliness.
Many modern therapies involve techniques you learn with your therapist and can then use for the rest of your life. Many of these techniques and tools, such as mindfulness and balanced thinking, can combat the thought patterns and behaviours that leave us lonely.