Remember: We all feel lonely sometimesOlena-Yakobchuk/Shutterstock
It has been reported that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness. Knowing this can bring us some solace; the feeling of loneliness is something many others near and far face in various forms. Loneliness can be a physical distance from family and friends or it can be perceived emotional distance. A perceived sense of isolation can involve feeling alone in certain areas of life. Maybe we think we’re the only ones around us who worry about body image, suffer from embarrassment, or have financial woes. This is simply not true. Maybe success is a lonely experience for us. Maybe we’re the only entrepreneurs in our community or perhaps we just got promoted when everyone around us seems to be struggling. We may have different reasons for being lonely, but at one point or another, we’ve all felt it. (Don’t miss these 17 little things you can do to connect with others.)
Know what loneliness means to youRawpixel.com/Shutterstock
There’s a difference between company and companionship: one might involve polite small talk and the other an intimate heart-to-heart. When we’re feeling lonely, it’s likely we are hoping to experience the latter. That said, knowing what you need to not feel lonely is key. John T. Cacioppo, neuroscientist and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, writes, “Being with others doesn’t mean you’re going to feel connected, and being alone doesn’t mean you’re going to feel lonely.” You might be a solitude-enjoying introvert or you might, out of personal preference, avoid alone time in favor of being with others. A feeling of empty disconnection or a longing to experience a sense of belonging can be a form of loneliness that occurs in the presence of others. On the flip side, a peaceful awareness can arise when one is solo. Observe your emotions and define loneliness for yourself.