Is loneliness normal?

In the history of human civilization, we live in times where we are most connected with each other, yet we all have faced this loneliness, that is, sad feeling of being socially isolated

Ever wondered why? We are so connected yet lonely? This article will tackle this counter-intuitive feeling most of us have often been feeling. When I say most of us, I really mean it

According to Cigna, A intercontinental health service company, 46% of adults in the US reported: “always feeling or sometimes lonely.”

In January 2018, Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK announced a Minister of loneliness as their survey says 14% of the population feels lonely.

In India, according to the NSS of 2004 nearly 2.7% (calculated) of the population feels lonely. And according to the 2016 statistics conducted by the Centre for the study of developing society, which was conducted on age group 15 to 34 years of age says 8% of youth feels lonely quite often

This brings a question to our mind, is it okay to be lonely?

In fact, A number of researches say that Any human being in the world will feel loneliness in some point in their life; being a psychological mechanism that our body does to motivate and brings about reflections about our social connections.

Evolutionary biologists say that loneliness and it’s long term dangers has made our ancestors struggle to get in a community or build a community, short term loneliness was like a warning for our ancestors, which made them feel vulnerable, so for survival, our ancestors learnt from loneliness, in a nutshell, loneliness had driven our ancestors to form us into social animals

Actually, loneliness for a short time is right; actually, it makes one aware of the importance of relations and strengthens one’s relations

Here are 7 reasons why we feel lonely usually, the first five reasons are very common in all of us the last two are not so common

1. Existential Loneliness

It is not possible for anyone to continually satisfy their inherent need for connection, so we end up feeling a lonely yearning for that connection at that particular time.

Also, some researchers believe that 4-5% of our tendency to be lonely could be inherited, although the “loneliness gene” is not known

2. Loneliness due to Cultural differences

The growth of “individualistic” approach during the industrial revolution has been of significant influence to the western culture, which is also a contributing factor for loneliness. This becomes evident to the migrants living in the western world and even with a feeling of missing their home and culture can cause loneliness

3. Loss of Family or Relationships

We have all experienced loss of our dear family member, very close friend, neighbour and some might have also gone through a breakup in relationships, this grief can cause loneliness even though when there are many people around you

4. Personality Differences

An extroverted person who is mostly very social is more likely to feel lonely if they are living somewhere with a low population or with less social events and interactions

5. Excessive Internet Usage

Actually, there is a contradiction in this as studies have found excessive use of the internet can contribute to loneliness and also loneliness can also be reduced by excessive internet usage

The final coherent conclusion came after meta-studies after 2015 which says

“Passive excessive use” tends to cause loneliness whereas “Moderate use, engaging” with others can increase social connection to some extent and thereby decrease loneliness

We all have been scrolling through Instagram or Facebook again and again even we might have logged in just a few minutes ago

6. Ripple effect of loneliness

This is a view that most researchers agree on this can be thought of continuation of loneliness caused loss of loved ones, and individualistically, the person will either depend too much on the existing connection he has or become very suspicious about the current relationship, this when trust issues can develop if the latter happens in a persons’ friend circle, those friends can start feeling lonely and can also extend the above-mentioned cycle again; although there is no evident study to back this up, we all know this is something that has either happened to us or to the people around us

7. Maladaptive social cognition

Traits such as hyper-vigilance, social awkwardness, which is usually caused due to long term loneliness come under Maladaptive social cognition. This makes a person harder to make connections and maintain connections, the loneliness felt by this is rare and therapy is the option for such individuals although results differ from person to person that is, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Benefits of short term loneliness are listed as follows:

  • Time for Self Reflection and planning
  • You start to understand the value of relationships
  • You can develop a feeling of empathy
  • Increases productivity
  • Increases creativity
  • Can develop mental strength to some extent
  • If the feeling of loneliness you have is short-lived, then you may need not to worry, but if you feel lonely for a long time, then you actually need to worry and find the roots, which will be discussed in another article on how to tackle long term loneliness.
  • So if your feeling lonely don’t just end up believing that you are depressed or suffering from bipolar, this could be our inner self warming us of our current relationships or maybe asking us to take a break.

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