Loneliness Vs Aloneness: Why Are So Many People Lonely?
Why are we so curious to know whether there are intelligent beings like us from the outer world? Why are we so fascinated with aliens and UFOS? Are we trying to comfort ourselves we are not the only intelligent beings in our near and distant universes? Do we want to be assured there is more meaning to life than what we probably know? Do we have an aching longing to know our purpose of living and that we are not alone?
Why do some people feel lonelier than others? Why do some afraid to be alone?
This paper intends to find out why people feel lonely, the benefits of aloneness and how to overcome loneliness.
Definition of Lonely
Dictionary.com defines lonely as “affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.” Also, it defines lonely as “destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.
Vocabulary.com defines it as “the state of being alone and feeling sad about it.”
Lastly, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “sad from being apart from other people.”
Definition of Alone
Cambridge Dictionary defines alone as meaning “that no other person is with you.”
The Free Dictionary defines it as “being apart from others; solitary,” and “Being without equal, unique.”
Collins Dictionary states, “When you are alone, you are not with any other people.” In addition, it states, “You say one person or thing alone does something when you are emphasizing that only one person or thing is involved.”
Alone and lonely are two words which look alike but in all respect have different meanings. It may seem there is a slight difference between the two words but that is not the case. One is a state of mind, the other a state of being. You can be alone and not feel lonely but you can be lonely and feel alone. In fact, you cannot feel lonely when you are alone. You will feel alone when you are lonely.
Aloneness is a state of being. It refers to a person isolated from a person, people or things. You can be isolated from other people either physically or mentally. You can be in a company of friends but still fell alone in your thoughts. On its side, it is a positive condition. As it will be found later, there are advantages of being alone. Are there are any disadvantages to being alone? Factually, not at all. There are two major disadvantages that are associated with aloneness. One of them is lack of companionship and the other is loneliness.
Is it true a person who is alone can feel lonely? The truth is though you’ll lack companionship you will not feel lonely. It doesn’t mean you isolate yourself from others for the rest of your life to live a solitary life. It means you know there are times when you need to be alone - to have your own space. There are plenty of reasons why people decide to be alone and how aloneness benefits them. These people who take their time to be alone are not the lonely type. Some of the reasons why they prefer to have time to themselves are:
a) They feel content to be alone
b) They want to have ample time to reflect on various things
c) They want to re-energize themselves after going through tiring and/or stressful time
d) They want to spend time with themselves
e) They want to be independent in their thoughts and physical presence
f) To enjoy their alone time by doing something creative or inspiring
g) To regain peace of mind and heart
If we look on the other side of the coin, loneliness is a state of mind. You feel sad when you are isolated from others including things. You don’t feel happy you are alone. People who are lonely fear to be alone. There are people who are content to be alone but there are others who dread it. You long to have a companion be it a spouse, partner, child, friend, sibling or even a pet. You feel an aching longing in your heart to be with someone. It is referred to as a negative emotion. It is regarded as negative as it can lead to physical and psychological health problems such as depression and heart problems if it prolongs or is very frequent.
The common factors that lead to some people to feel more lonely than others has to do with how they were raised by their parents or guardians, the environment they grew up in, their personality traits and how they were viewed and possibly treated by the community during their growing years.
Aspects of Loneliness
There are three aspects of loneliness. The first and second are intertwined as the differences look to be very slight for both to be separated entirely.
a) Physical Aspect
This is whereby a person feels distanced physically from a person, people or things. The lack of presence of a physical reality makes them feel lonely. It doesn’t necessary mean they intend to talk to them but just seeing them makes them feel happy. For example, take the instance of a teenager who is alone in the whole school. He may feel lonely there is no physical presence of a living thing – don’t count trees. If she happens to see the school’s worker or teacher she will breathe a sigh of relief.
b) Emotional Aspect
A person can feel emotionally lonely. The person may be in a group of people but feel lonely emotionally. The person may feel he is not emotionally satisfied. His emotional needs are not met. He feels like he is tormented emotionally. The person may seek a friend in order to strike a conversation in order not to feel lonely. Or, he may try to get involved in destructive activities to satisfy his emotions such as drinking or partying. One best example of this aspect of loneliness is how a person feels after a relationship with his partner comes to an end. The person will feel both the physical and emotional loneliness.
c) Spiritual Aspect
Man is made up of three aspects: flesh, soul and spirit. This is the biggest loneliness a large percentage of humans feel but they don’t know it. It in turn affects the above two aspects even if you don’t experience them. The spirit is what connects the soul and the physical body. It can be referred to as the ‘real you.’ This is the reason why when someone talks about wellbeing it signifies you are healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually.
We noted there are three aspects of loneliness. Loneliness manifests itself in different forms. The different forms manifest themselves in the three aspects. Loneliness can be as a result of an external cause or an internal one. In the case of external, a person may feel ‘distant’ as a result of not seeing the presence of a familiar person or thing. One can be in a company of a stranger and still feel externally lonely. In the case of internal (emotional), one can feel lonely as a result of being hurt, depressed, over-estimating oneself and others, low self-esteem, over-dependency and belittled. The list is endless. An example is of a student who has failed in an end-term exam. Even though the student knows there are others who have failed miserably than her, she feels she is the only one who has failed badly. She doesn’t feel good about that realization (of which it might not be true but in some situations it can be true).
Some loneliness can be avoided while there are others a person will have to experience. The feelings of loneliness a person experiences after a breakup is a loneliness that cannot be avoided. Another example is of a wife who is distanced from her husband for duration of time. If you do careful research you will find majority of loneliness can be avoided.
Loneliness tends to be a negative emotion if it is frequent for situations that don’t warrant it, and if it goes on for a long period of time. People who are lonely have to learn to be independent especially in regards to their thoughts and emotions. It will be noted people who are usually alone or prefer it; one of the major reasons why they want to be alone is to be independent. When you learn to be independent you will not always feel the tinge of loneliness. If you happen to feel lonely, it is only for a short period of time. Loneliness is categorized in the same group as anger and hatred as it is a negative emotion. When these negative emotions are allowed to run for long, they tend to cause physical and psychological health problems.
Lonely people need to learn not to over-depend on a person or people. They should not have over-expectations on themselves and others, they should not underestimate themselves, they should realize they are of worth, they should not hate themselves, they should love themselves, always praising themselves when they do something good, and learn to accept who they are.
How To Deal With Loneliness - Never Feel Lonely Again!
There is a spiritual loneliness. Man has for a long time tried to find meaning to life. Why am I here on earth? What is my purpose here on earth? Am I only meant to live then die and that’s it? If you don’t know who you are and what your existence signifies, you will live each and every day a lonely person. You will wonder why you always feel a deeper loneliness that cannot be articulated in world. You feel as if there is a void in your heart. On the physical and emotional aspects you will not feel lonely if you value yourself and such. However, spiritually you will always be lonely. Since the spirit connects the physical body and the soul, it will in turn affect you psychologically which will lead you to feel emotional lonely. As you deal with the physical and emotional aspects of loneliness, don’t forget the spiritual aspect. It is the most important one. If you are not lonely spiritually then you can expect not to live every single day a lonely person, only in some situations such as after a breakup but it will not last for long.