What is Loneliness?



What is Loneliness exactly? “I feel lonely,” “I feel alone,” “I’m all on my own,” “I feel empty,” “I have nobody to turn to,” “I do not have anybody,” “I do not belong” “I’m isolated” “I’ve been alienated” “No one understands me.” Do you at certain moments catch yourself thinking these thoughts? Chances are in those moments you are feeling lonely. Loneliness at its core can be an adaptive emotional experience: it signals to us our innate need for relationships: for connection, for community and for love. Such a feeling, when it leads us to reach out, seek contact with others and establish connection, adaptively spurs us towards fulfilling our needs for interaction and belonging. However, more often than not, feelings of Loneliness elicit a completely different set of responses. Instead of reaching out to others for interaction and connection, we shut ourselves off. At times, social anxiety kicks in, preventing us from being ourselves with others and perpetuating our feelings of loneliness. As time passes, the certainty with which we feel that we are all on our own grows. Where does Loneliness come from? All of us have had particularly pivotal periods and experiences in our lives that define how we frame Loneliness. These include experiences with our caregivers, the loss of loved ones, or key turning points in our lives. Such experiences frame how we respond to similar situations in the future. The community and culture contexts in which we find ourselves also deeply shape the frame with which we experience Loneliness. Perhaps one has belonged to a marginalized or minority group. Or one was part of a community which actively practises exclusion towards non-conformity to its set of principles and norms. One’s cultural context and its deeply encoded rules on communication, vulnerability and seeking support also shape one’s ideas on Loneliness. These contextual factors, on top of pivotal experiences, deeply shape our frames of Loneliness and relating to others. Therapeutic Goals with Emotion-Focused Therapy In Emotion-Focused Therapy, we help clients reframe their perspectives and generate new feelings about Loneliness and relationships. This is done by creating vivid and new experiences of receiving compassion and feeling cared for and connected with others psychologically. Ultimately, the goal is for clients to emerge from their therapeutic journeys not devoid of feelings of Loneliness, for it is only human to feel, but with loving, adaptive responses to those feelings.




What are the functions of emotion? Emotions help us survive by providing an efficient, automatic way of responding rapidly to a situation.