Loneliness – an epidemic in modern society? I was planning to write a blog article today but not on this topic. My mind was changed by several things I have seen and read over the last few days that highlighted the problem of loneliness in Britain today.
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“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”
This quote comes from The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834). Perhaps you are wondering why I have strayed so far from my subject? Well I don’t think I have. Imagine this mariner, adrift at sea, surrounded by sea water but with no drinking water. Imagine for a minute his desperation, and the irony of his situation. There was nothing he could do, water as far as he could see, but dying for lack of drinking water!
Now change your focus. I walked across Liverpool City Centre several times last week. It is a great City, incredibly vibrant, a hive of activity. ‘People, people everywhere’.
Looking in doorways and alleyways, however, reveals a different, disturbing, picture. One evening I counted 18 rough sleepers/beggars during a 20 minute walk. Many were sitting or sleeping along routes full of people who were enjoying an evening out with friends or loved ones. Yes, there were people everywhere but, to those who were sleeping rough, or just alone on the streets, they were effectively in another world.
It is easy to be lonely when you are by yourself, but often easier still when you are surrounded by others!
This week I read two articles in the local press, both concerned the apparent suicides of young men. One, reportedly in his 20’s, was found on a local Motorway having apparently fallen from a bridge. We will probably never know what led to this tragic event but I am sure that bridge was an incredibly lonely place for the young man in the minutes before his fall. A Police statement says that “his next of kin have been informed”. No matter how lonely he was, this young man was not alone in the world!
The second report was concerning a “Lonely man, 26, who plunged to his death from a 100′ tower block and who was described as happy and smiley by those who knew him” (To quote from the press).
Reading this second article it again appears that this chap was not alone in the world, he certainly had some friends. To those friends he presented as happy and smiley, but what was going on inside? We all wear masks that cover our true feelings and, no doubt, that was what happened here. To the outside world, no problems, but inside loneliness and turmoil.
I didn’t know either of these young men but I have some idea how they felt.
Loneliness is all about perception
There are not that many of us who are truly alone in the world, but we can all feel that way at times. We can convince ourselves that nobody is interested, nobody cares, nobody loves us, but rarely is this the case. Our own limiting beliefs, and poor thinking styles, create very low self esteem and, if we don’t like ourselves, how can we accept that other people like/love us.
We can never cure this epidemic of loneliness simply by surrounding ourselves with people. It is often lonelier to be in a crowd, but not engaging with other people, than to actually be alone! I used to feel incredibly lonely at parties simply because I thought nobody was interested in me and I wasn’t truly wanted there. This was all in my own mind, but I was good at perpetuating the myth!
I was convinced that I wasn’t wanted so, on arrival, I would find a quiet corner and isolate myself. If somebody found me I would be polite but monosyllabic, and I would leave as soon as convention would allow. I’d had a miserable time, which proved what I had thought all along and reinforced my feelings of loneliness. Nobody wanted to know, or could understand, how I felt, so down the spiral went.
The road to recovery
I learnt that I was creating these feelings myself. It wasn’t my fault, I just didn’t know how to stop!
Just like the people I talked about earlier, my own perceptions, beliefs, and thinking styles had convinced me that nobody cared or understood. I felt lonely whether I was actually alone, in crowds, with friends, with strangers – in short, pretty much all the time. Putting on my mask, my false smile, I tried to hide my true feelings. I ‘knew’ I wasn’t good enough and I ‘knew’ that other people thought that too.
How wrong I was. Once I learnt, through The Thrive Programme, how I could change my limiting beliefs and thinking styles, I stopped feeling lonely. I don’t see that many more people than before, but, I am present, I engage, I enjoy their company. Not only am I not alone, I don’t feel alone!
The tragic reports in the Paper, and the street sleepers, highlighted loneliness to me this week, but it is a permanent problem. A huge step towards solving this epidemic will be education. Changing your perception of yourself, other people, and the world around you, is the first step.
Thrive With Ian will teach you how to overcome your limiting beliefs and thrive. The good news is that you can turn your life around in as little as 6 – 8 weeks.
Don’t be lonely, don’t hide behind your mask, contact me now. I will meet you for a free, no obligation, chat and tell you more about The Thrive Programme.
It has changed my life and the lives of many others. Let it change yours and, one at a time, we will beat this loneliness epidemic.