Today I read in the Guardian that scientists are researching a pill for loneliness***.
So here are my two cents worth on why this is not likely to provide the fundamental 'cure'.
Having experienced much deep loneliness over much of my life, I can speak personally as to the devastating effects of what it's like to be and feel alone.
It affects every layer of our being: mind, emotions, physical and spiritual.
Research has shown that loneliness can impair health*, for example one research project showing it raises levels of stress hormones and inflammation, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and even suicide attempts.
From years of personal introspection on how to manage and deal with feeling alone and disconnected from other human beings, I have drawn two major conclusions:
If we know how to deal with the feelings of loneliness, which one could describe as deep sadness and a 'hole in the heart', through specific practical strategies and action plans, there is much one can do to allay and dispel the feelings of loneliness. This takes much self-awareness, dedication and practice.
It also requires that one is willing to face the feelings of loneliness rather than run away from them. Most people have not been trained in the art of how to 'feel feelings'. In fact, most people have trained themselves to not feel, and instead to 'bury, suppress, ignore and swallow' (or whatever other term you would like to use) their feelings. We unconsciously learn to do this by the age of about 7, as a result of our environment and the modelling from caregivers. Most people are not aware that there are specific strategies one can use to face and clear emotions, which brings much greater and faster relief than ignoring them. This is why I am so passionate about teaching people how to self-process emotions.
Whilst most people might think (and I certainly did for years) that loneliness is caused by not having enough social contact with other human beings, whilst this is on some level true, in my experience it is not the fundamental cause of loneliness.
The root cause of loneliness is a disconnection from self, and by self I mean 'True Self', the part of ourselves which is much bigger than our personality self.
Whilst I may be entering into 'woo woo' territory here for some people, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the case, having had to dive very deep into this topic for so many years in order to manage the deep loneliness and depression I experienced.
Now that I have 're-connected' with this part of myself, I can honestly say I no longer feel lonely. If I ever feel a 'twinge' of loneliness, I know it's time to re-strengthen the connection with my True Self.
Many people may have no idea of either of these two approaches for managing loneliness, which means their experience of loneliness will perpetuate until they do. This is no easy task. Just addressing the first solution is hard enough, and exploring and connecting with one's True Self** takes dedication, perseverance and effort.
I would also like to add that as social creatures there is no doubt that we need interaction with other human beings. Being able to self-process feelings of loneliness and re-connect with one's 'True Self' are not the only answers: we need fun, connection and social interaction to make our lives meaningful.
So, back to the question of the pill for loneliness.
Will this help?
Well, like most pills, they tend to address the symptoms rather than the cause.
I'm all for getting to the root of the problem and pulling it out, so that the weed no longer has to grow.
It's up to you which option you choose, but sooner or later those weeds will need to be pulled out!
Happy gardening : )
** It's hard to put words to this part of our self, and there are many words used to describe it, including 'higher self', 'God' etc. It's a touchy subject because it moves into the realm of spirituality and religion, which is a tetchy topic to talk about, often because many people feel 'their' religion is the right way and other paths are wrong.
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