At one point or another every single one of us has felt all alone. Especially in these current times of the pandemic where we had “shelter in place,” self isolation and lock downs. There’s so many “social” media sites and technology, but somehow with rapid growth in communication technology, the feeling of loneliness is a fast growing concern. I’ve even heard of some people communicating through text even though they are in the same room. Have you heard something similar?
What is loneliness?
Simply put, loneliness is an emotional state. This is a state where people experience a disconnection from the people around them. It can also lead to a deep feeling of emptiness, which renders even their present company around them meaningless.
Often it doesn’t matter if they’re in a big crowd or by themselves, single, partnered, married, young, or old. They basically find it very hard to connect with others and often experience separation from any meaningful relationships.
This should not be confused with being alone.
Being alone does not always equal loneliness because there are some people who thrive on being alone. There are also times where it can be an opportunity to refresh, recuperate and rediscover ourselves. For example, after several hours at a party, I feel that it’s time for me go home. I get more energy from reflecting on my own and solitude, than mingling at a party for long periods of time.
Now that we know the difference between loneliness and being alone, what are the symptoms of loneliness? If you are reading, you might be feeling one or more of these symptoms.
You believe your problems are unique and others cannot possibly understand
You feel like everyone else in the world has friends but you don’t
You feel very self-conscious in everything you do
When you do something wrong, you get extremely embarrassed
You feel anxiety or drowned out when you are in a crowd
You feel disconnected with people even though you are with them
Feeling shy and scared to be around others
You have low self-esteem
You tend to get angry, defensive, and critical at almost anything even if it is not directed at you
You’re afraid of strangers and refuse to talk or engage in a healthy conversation
You’re convinced there is something wrong with you
Feeling anxious and sad and believing no one knows how miserable and isolated you feel
You lose your capacity to be assertive
You refuse to accept change and won’t try anything new
Feeling like nothing matters
Feeling lonely? Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for you. Jesus will seek you. If you feel lonely, all is not lost. Jesus will find you.
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes: "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.'