Everyone feels lonely from time to time. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if we’re actually by ourselves, or in a room full of people. There are plenty of different reasons people tend to feel lonely. But, when it becomes a consistent feeling, it may have a lasting negative impact on your physical and mental health.
It’s important to note that emotions affect everyone differently. Some people are perfectly content, and even enjoy being alone as much as possible. Others tend to feel a deep sense of isolation, as though they don’t have a true friend in the world. If you tend to lean on the negative side of loneliness, know that it’s more common than you may think!
What Makes You Feel Lonely?
Again, emotions are different for everyone. What makes one person feel alone may be a perfectly fine scenario for someone else. However, there are a few key factors that tend to impact most people’s feelings of loneliness. These include things like:
Craving closeness: Being with someone (or even several people) doesn’t always take away the feeling of loneliness. Some people need a certain kind of closeness in order to not feel so isolated. If you have a bunch of acquaintances but no close relationships, you can certainly feel unfulfilled and empty.
Quality over quantity: Many people tend to think that the more friends you have, the less lonely you’ll be. Relationships have to contain mutual effort by both parties in order for them to be fulfilling and solid. Many friends don’t equal happiness or fulfillment. One or two close friends who are actually there for your relationship can be far more satisfying.
Being guarded: You may not realize it, but many times people are lonely because they’re afraid to really let people in. While quality relationships are important, it’s not always easy to let your guard down and be vulnerable. This is something everyone needs to work on from an individual level. When you’re able to open up to people and they reciprocate, you’re likely to feel less isolated.
Social media: Unfortunately, this is a factor that has really come into play over the last several years. Social media has the ability to make us feel connected to people all over the world. At the same time, however, there is a great disconnect in using it without investing in real, face-to-face relationships. Furthermore, social media is often about keeping up appearances. You may see pictures of your friends having a ‘great time’ without you, and it can make you feel left out. It’s easy to put a lot of stock into these things when really, they don’t mean much at all. Don’t let social media fool you into a false sense of connection.
What Can I Do to Feel Less Isolated?
Understanding what makes you feel alone, personally, takes a real focus on your inner and outer experiences. Essentially, we need to look at past experiences you may have had with people (or on your own), and how different situations tend to make you feel.
There are many things you can do to feel more connected with the world. From experiencing new situations to forming closer bonds with people you already know, the key to getting rid of isolation is different for everyone. Understanding what leaves you feeling fulfilled is important. Together, we’ll focus on useful ways to bring you a deeper sense of connection with people.
Carolyn Ehrlich LCSW, CGP specializes in Relationship Counseling NYC