Being alone and loneliness are not the same thing. Being alone and having time and space to be with yourself is part of life, an important part of each person’s identity emerges from how a person thinks for and with themselves. However, what is central to how we inhabit our world, is our sense of belonging to a community, be that a workplace community or other groups of people.
We have seen a huge growth in isolation over the past few years and also an increase in the sense of being alone in a family or group due to lockdowns being an overly intense and protracted experience where our sense of ourselves often gets into conflict with others in those groups. Both the need to be with people and the intensity of not having space for oneself can lead to a sense of loneliness. Loneliness can lead to a sense of anxiety both personally and socially and can also be a depressing experience. In today’s world where so much is done in isolation, over 30% of people are experiencing some form of anxiety. Whilst medication may contribute to addressing this, it is not immediately the solution. Since so much of loneliness is about the absence of social, communal, group activities, it is this connecting to people that is the most important and also sensitive part of the issue. Being with others and feeling a sense of belonging is no easy thing but it is something that can be nourishing and make life richer and more tolerable.
If you are finding making connections a challenge, this is a time to reach out to a professional to create a sense of connection that is compassionate and personal. The relationship with a counsellor or talking therapist can help to re-establish those aspects of identity that allow for a manageable and uplifting sense of belonging. What is so important about belonging is that we feel able to contribute something as well as derive a far greater sense of personal resilience from collective activities that allow for us to be alone rather than lonely. Resilience is key to our ability to navigate the inevitable ups and downs of life and talking therapy is a space in which this need can be discussed openly and without judgement, to identify how each person can find their way to belong in a world that has inadvertently led to a sense of loneliness and anonymity.