THE EPIDEMIC OF LONELINESS
We are faced with a number of disconnecting factors in our world today such as post-pandemic restructuring of home and work, political divisions, social media and disappearance of social institutions As a result loneliness, depression and even suicides are at all time highs. ironically, with the possibility of electronically connecting with every human being on the planet on that little electronic rectangle in our pockets, we have never been more disconnected.
Whenever possible, we should try to choose the human connection, one on one facing each other, sharing nonverbal cues and communicating through body language. It has become far too tempting to combat loneliness by scanning social media (when it may actually do the opposite), rather than reaching out to a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or even a stranger on a bus. Maybe we should go the extra distance to make an actual phone call rather than just a quick text or email.
But reaching out is only half the battle. How do we make connection to other humans once we’ve made contact? Sharing vulnerability, even with those we know well, is the best way to cement connection to others. Telling someone why you are hurting, lonely or afraid automatically gives them permission to do the same, and connection results.
All too often clients tell me that their partners are afraid to share what’s really going on with them, and this hurts intimacy. What I recommend is for them to share their insecurities and fears, and then be an engaged listener. Often, they are amazed at the connection that then results.
During these divisive times, when it seems that all we can see are differences, it may be best to reach out to others to learn how much we share in common. It is in the commonalities and shared emotional experiences that we can bridge the loneliness and share life’s joys.
Dr. John Monaco