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At some point we all will feel lonely or have to deal with it. Loneliness can be debilitating as it tears down day by day. It can cause us to make bad choices which can lead to a lifetime of paying consequences. Some withdraw completely from people and others will look desperately for a friend. Either way, loneliness, if not handled right, can lead us down a road of deep pain.

Loneliness can be caused from many things, from minor to major. We may feel lonely after moving away from friends and family or if a close friend moves away. We can feel lonely in a crowded room where we don't know anyone. We all deal with this kind of loneliness and it's usually just temporary.

The dangerous kind of loneliness is the type that, despite being in a room full of people you know, you still feel lonely. You may feel like an outcast among friends and family. You may feel no one cares about you or loves you. No one cares what you think or what you have to say. You're uncomfortable going somewhere by yourself because you feel self conscious. Maybe you feel no one pays attention to you or no one likes you. Maybe you've been hurt so much loneliness comes from trusting no one. Loneliness is very real and not something we can just snap out of. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to many years. It ruins lives.

There are a lot of scientific theories why some people live a life of perpetual loneliness. Some think it's a chemical imbalance and can be treated with therapy and drugs. Others think it's diet and exercise and still others think it comes from past abuses. It isn't about just making some friends. We've all heard someone tell us "You need to make a friend". Most people who deal with chronic loneliness have friends and/or close families. Scientists and therapy gurus have a lot of methods to try to break its hold, but in an age where tens of millions, just in this country alone, suffer from severe loneliness daily despite having tried methods, it's obvious the issue is much bigger than science, much deeper than having human companionship and its hold on a person is much stronger.

Loneliness can be broken, but first we need to see it for what it is. Loneliness is being self focused. Loneliness is an obsession with "self". By going to therapy, taking drugs or spending millions on self help material the cycle is never broken in a person. These methods are, in fact, a vicious cycle because they only reinforce the loneliness by keeping the individual self focused.

Take a look at this excerpt from an article concerning major depression among Western societies that loneliness also fits into...

Societies that breed depression, and societies that don't
It is a fact that we all have basic emotional needs that must be met for us to thrive and enjoy life. After the primary human needs for food, water and shelter come commonly shared emotional and physical needs. Without exception we find depressed people are not getting these needs met.
Traditional communities naturally meet many 'basic needs' for emotional support. In the traditional Amish society in the US major depression is almost unknown, as it is in the equally traditional Kaluli tribe of New Guinea. In these societies individual concerns are group concerns and vise-versa. You know that if you have a problem other people will help you and you are expected to help out when others need support. We know we are meant to do these things but it's not a 'built in feature' of modern society in the same way.
These days we are much more 'self-focused'. The idea of considering the wider community to be more important than the self is almost impossible to understand for most people.
Major depression is 4th most disabling condition in the world, and 2nd most in the developed world. As well as the human cost, the burden on society is incredible. Much of the research on this site about effective treatments for depression has been controlled by the US government, in order to try and find the best way to overcome depression. The cost to society is real, and we need to find the best way at beating depression for good.

Loneliness makes you think "No one loves me. No one cares about me. No one thinks I'm important. No one notices me. No one thinks about me. No one will ever do anything good for me. No one thinks I'm cute/nice/important enough/smart", etc. What's the common denominator in all of this? "Me".

The problem isn't medical or a painful past. The problem is being self centered. We get all wrapped up in ourselves and what we want and what we need. We are only worried about ourselves. This not only does extreme damage to us, but to others as well. We become so self centered and ungrateful, so focused on ourselves that we neglect others and push them off over and over again until ultimately they leave. Instead of seeing it for what it is we turn in on ourselves, reinforce the loneliness in us and say "See! No one loves me. No one cares. No one's concerned for me. I did everything I could..."

Ever heard the term "it's better to give than to receive"? It's true that people who give of themselves, either by volunteer work, involvement in charities or other things, are happier people. They experience far less loneliness and far less depression than those who aren't active in giving of themselves in some way.

Ready to break the cycle? First you have to realize (and this may sound harsh but I've had to face it too) the world does not revolve around you. The truth is if we die today the world will still go on as just another day. You are the only one at the center of your universe. No matter what you've been through there are many more who have been through or are going through far worse than you. No matter what you may not have there are many others who have far less.

Instead of thinking "no one loves me" try asking yourself "who can I show love to"?
Instead of thinking "No one appreciates me" ask yourself "who can I show appreciation to?"
Instead of thinking "No one listens to me" ask yourself "who can I listen to?"
Instead of thinking "I have no friends" ask yourself "who can I be a friend or friendly to?"
Instead of thinking "No one is there for me" ask yourself "Who can I be there for?"

Selfishness is not a virtue. Being self centered is not a good character trait. People notice it and instinctively back away from it. But those that give of themselves despite what they feel or what they may be going through not only profoundly changes us, but it changes those around us. Think of a time when you felt bad or at your worst and someone (maybe a complete stranger) did something for you, something they didn't have to do, but went out of their way for you. Maybe something that seemed so insignificant, but it completely changed your mood and made your situation a little better. Because it changed your mood it had a chain reaction. Now you are reacting to others a little differently, a little nicer, a little more patiently. Now you've effected those people and their mood is a little lighter and better and they in turn do something for someone else.

Those we praise as heroes have always been those who gave the most of themselves and thought of others more. You may not save kids from a burning building today or rescue an old lady from a group of thugs, but you can can make a difference in someone's life today and that always makes a difference in us. You may be the only person today who picks another person up with even just a kind word. Loneliness cannot survive when we reach out to others, but it's more than just coming to a realization of what loneliness is. You have to act on it and the more you do the weaker loneliness becomes.


Anonymous said...

Oh my! You rock, girl! I never thought of Loneliness as an obsession with self! This is a PERFECT analysis!!! We humans (too many Christians) are so full of ourselves! Instead of focusing on God, we waste so much time & effort seeking to 'feel good'.

While the truth may hurt, it is still truth! Keep rocking for Christ!

Ariel said...

thanks so much! you are so right that we're full of ourselves and that's the human condition. I think one of the hardest things we deal with when we become believers is getting over ourselves and/or accepting getting over ourselves. thanks for taking the time to comment. God bless :)

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Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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