Loneliness and Solitude

And now for loneliness – something we don’t like to mention too much. Some fear it could be contagious! I know that feeling – we all know that feeling of being lonely – it’s part of the human condition, a primeval sign that we need to seek out connection! We are hard-wired for it: social creatures that need social bonds, in the same way that we need food and water.

It’s a complex thing this dull, heavy and hard to define feeling of loneliness. It is often a response to isolation, and this is not only in the physical realm. We can feel disconnected no matter what is happening on the outside – parties, lots of friends, and no apparent isolation.

NLP coaching can clear away your limiting beliefs that invariably create and maintain separateness. This will enable you to integrate your intentions and actions and allow you to make conscious choices to connect without those negative life-scrips holding you back. You can create space for new relationships and possibilities for connection.

Lack of Connection

When we lack connection with others we feel alone, and this feeling appears to extend into the future, making everything look bleak. Through working with a coach you can gain a new perspective and begin to take action – small steps and sometimes leaps, that will change you and your life.

It’s a Social Thing

Extended families and tribes are often not available to us as support structures. You are fortunate if you have a good family and supportive friends. Make the most of them, be grateful.

Sometimes, despite having friends, we don’t have anyone to connect with about stuff that really matters to us – whether this is to discuss the meaning of life, share a love of films, music, bask in nature or talk about Game of Thrones …. whatever!

Chronic loneliness is bad for your health

Loneliness elevates our risk of developing a range of disorders, including  cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline. It also weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections. Left untended, even situational loneliness can ossify into a fixed state that changes brain structures and processes, (Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Lab at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine).

Unlike depression and anxiety, loneliness has no recognised clinical form; there is no available diagnosis or treatment for feeling chronically isolated, however, loneliness is seen as a major public health concern.

Health risks

  • Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
  • Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
  • Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression. (Valtorta et al, 2016) (James et al, 2011) (Cacioppo et al, 2006)
  • Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 29% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)

Loneliness and older people

  • There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
  • Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (Office for National Statistics 2010. General Lifestyle Survey 2008).
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age, U.K., 2014. Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life. London: Age UK).

How to deal with loneliness

Firstly, distinguish between solitude and loneliness. Solitude can be something we actively seek at times; it nurtures us in a busy world.

Begin to build a scaffold of networks, connections and relationships. Begin small and keep at it. By taking action consistently we can build anything, including relationships.

Mind has good advice on coping with loneliness they link it to mental health and emphasise the cyclical nature of loneliness to our state of wellbeing.

Get some help –  Get a coach  – get in touch. There are also there are many organisations that offer befriending such as Age Cymru

Help others – through reaching out and thinking about others we can combat loneliness on many levels. Volunteering is a good way to start – See volunteering Wales for example 

Practical tips – 10 things to do if you are feeling lonely 

 

Thoughts on Solitude

“Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” Bell Hooks

“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.”   Honoré de Balzac

 “I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” (Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, December 7, 1953)”

 “Your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

“Solitude was my only consolation – deep, dark, deathlike solitude.” Mary W. Shelley

“It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquillity within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.” Marcus Aurelius

“I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing – not just a waiting.”  Susan Sontag

Poetry

While many poets savour the isolation needed to write, their words will ideally create connection.

Emily Dickinson said that loneliness was …

The Maker of the soul
Its Caverns and its Corridors
Illuminate—or seal-

And Hafiz definitely thinks loneliness can illuminate

Don’t surrender your loneliness 
So quickly. 
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you 
As few human 
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight 
Has made my eyes so soft, 
My voice 
So tender,

My need of God 
Absolutely 
Clear.

This one by Carlos Williams Carlos makes me smile

Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen

are sleeping

and the sun is a flame-white disc

in silken mists

above shining trees,—

if I in my north room

dance naked, grotesquely

before my mirror

waving my shirt round my head

and singing softly to myself:

“I am lonely, lonely.

I was born to be lonely,

I am best so!”

If I admire my arms, my face,

my shoulders, flanks, buttocks

against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not

the happy genius of my household?

 

This is Basho in the seventeenth century

The first day of the year:

thoughts come – and there is loneliness;

the autumn dusk is here.

And finally – a favourite song by the Walker brothers

Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)

Loneliness is the cloak you wear
A deep shade of blue is always there
The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky
The tears are always clouding your eyes
When you’re without love, baby

Emptiness is the place you’re in
There’s nothing to lose but no more to win
The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky
The tears are always clouding your eyes
When you’re without love

Lonely, without you, baby
Girl, I need you
I can’t go on

The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore (The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore)
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky (The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky)
The tears are always clouding your eyes (The tears are always clouding your eyes)
Sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
When you’re without love, baby

The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore

Ah, but the sun does shine

Go well and connect.

 

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