Loneliness and Prayer For a Companionship
Loneliness and Solitude: A Reading List
When I moved from a small town in Northern California to Brooklyn, New York in the summer of 2010, I felt the pang of an inarticulable loneliness.
Unable to string together words to describe this complicated feeling, I found Olivia Laing’s Aeon essay, “Me, Myself and I,” to be a starting point that began to map a cartography of loneliness.
Published in 2012, Laing writes, “What did it feel ? It felt being hungry, I suppose, in a place where being hungry is shameful, and where one has no money and everyone else is full. It felt, at least sometimes, difficult and embarrassing and important to conceal.
” Four years into my New York experiment, the pang of loneliness has dulled and has been exchanged for a desire to retreat from an overstimulating city with my close friends and a bag of salted caramel.
This brief list takes a dive into the discussion about loneliness and solitude in our contemporary lives—what it is, how we cope, and how it affects our bodies. Please share your recommendations: essays and articles in this vein, if you have them.
1. “American Loneliness” (Emma Healey, Los Angeles Review of Books, June 2014)
I’ve been watching MTV’s reality show, Catfish in awe for the past two seasons. I vacillate between heavy feelings of eager empathy and awkward amusement. Healy explores what Catfish reveals about our common loneliness, longing and vulnerabilities as well as how easily we suspend logic in the pursuit of companionship.
2. “The Lonely Ones” (Emily Cooke, The New Inquiry, May 2012)
After several summers of lonely artist residencies in small towns, I was interested in the relationship between loneliness and artistic growth.
Cooke looks at the writing of Susan Sontag, Vivian Gornick as well as Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik to explore considerations of “total submission to literature,” the necessity of loneliness and solitude for the elevation of the craft as well as the tension between the exalting and avoiding of solitude.
3. “On Loneliness: Art, Life, and Fucking Human Beings” (Sonya Chung, The Millions, June 2012)
“…there is something terribly wrong about this loneliness on the one hand, and on the other (in knowing the wrongness utterly), something also potentially beautiful”, writes Chung.
In this piece, Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann, It Chooses You by Miranda July and Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale are used by Chung as anchor texts to explore how people cope with loneliness.
Most compelling is July’s It Chooses You where she calls people who advertise items for sale in the L.A. Pennysaver, asking them if she can come to their homes with a photographer and tape recorder to interview them.
4. “The AIDS Granny In Exile” (Kathleen McLaughlin, BuzzFeed, December 2013)
Since reading an Economist article about China’s “plasma economy,” a state policy where local officials encouraged peasants to supplement their small incomes by selling blood plasma, I was curious about those who were resisting the government’s cover up of a policy that led to an HIV/AIDS outbreak. McLaughlin sheds some light.
In the 1990s, a gynecologist named Gao Yaojie, now known as the “AIDS Granny” exposed the cause of an AIDS epidemic in rural China as well as the government’s role in covering up the “plasma economy.
” Seventeen years ago, in pursuit of safety from the Chinese government, she made an unplanned journey from Henan to Harlem where she has chosen to live in solitude, even denying her daughter a visit.
5. “Is Making Us Lonely? (Stephen Marche, The Atlantic, May 2012)
As a fickle user of social media and an avid chaser of articles this that discuss how social media exploits algorithms to toy with our emotions, I was excited to read Marche’s nuanced piece on the relationship between social media and loneliness.
Marche is clear to argue that while social media has broadened our social networks, new research suggests that we approaching an epidemic of loneliness, a “slippery, a difficult state to define or diagnose.
” Marche asks us consider the way we use social media rather than “casting technology as some vague, impersonal spirit of history forcing our actions is a weak excuse.”
6. “The Lethality of Loneliness” (Judith Shulevitz, The New Republic, May 2013)
When I read the 2012 New York Times article where researchers found that exclusion and loneliness leads to lower body temperatures, I wondered about the other biological effects of loneliness.
Shulevitz discusses how over the past half-century, academic psychologists have largely abandoned psychoanalysis and embraced biology in their attempts to better understand how isolation and loneliness affects the body. Research has led to discoveries that have ranked emotional isolation as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking.
Once treated as a public concern, loneliness is now being considered a public health crisis. UCLA researcher, Steve Cole’s findings suggest that social life, particularly loneliness, even affects expression.Kameelah Janan Rasheed, originally from East Palo Alto, California is a conceptual artist, educator and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. A collector of everything from religious tracts distributed by street preachers to audio from evangelical sermons, she loves a great story.
She mines for long form pieces exploring religion and ritual, race, science fiction and gender. Her archival and memory-based work has been exhibited throughout New York City and written about in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Art Slant, Hyperallergic and the Los Angeles Times.
Her writing has appeared in Gawker and Specter Magazine. She is always available to write, teach or chat.
Photo: Berk Kaufmann
Loneliness, a complicated emotion that typically occurs when one’s needs for social contact are not met, may be described as a feeling of emptiness that results from isolation. A person may be lonely when alone, but the state of being alone does not necessarily indicate loneliness.
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness can mean different things, depending on one’s situation and individual needs, but it is generally considered to be a negative or undesirable state. Feelings of loneliness may develop when one lacks fulfillment in one’s social relationships, but just as a person who is alone is not necessarily lonely, a person can be lonely without being alone.
A person in a romantic relationship who has few friends may feel lonely in the partner’s absence or find the relationship to be somehow lacking in other ways, and a person who has many strong friendships might still feel lonely at times. An individual who is not in a relationship and desires romantic companionship might also experience loneliness.
Experiences that might also contribute to feelings of loneliness include:
A person who feels lonely may often be physically alone, but many individuals choose to remain alone, maintaining few social connections. This state of being alone is not the same as loneliness: In most cases, a person who is alone by choice enjoys and welcomes solitude.
Loneliness and Mental Health
A sense of loneliness is often accompanied by the belief that one has no choice in the matter. For many people, loneliness is a transient state that passes eventually. But when one’s social needs and desires go consistently unfulfilled, feelings of loneliness may become chronic and debilitating and lead to a decline in mental health.
Loneliness has been linked to a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and substance dependency. It may also contribute to disruptions in eating and sleeping patterns. Feelings of loneliness may sometimes develop to such an extent that they lead an individual to engage in acts of self-harm or have thoughts of suicide.
Several studies show that adolescents who are lonely may be more ly to use drugs or alcohol and become sexually active at an earlier age than peers who are not lonely. Teens experiencing loneliness have also been shown to be more ly to engage in risky and unsafe sex or exhibit aggressive behavior.
Coping with Loneliness
The distress associated with loneliness can be significant and may lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Pursuing a new hobby, taking up a sport, volunteering in the community, or attending social events can help reduce distress by increasing one’s opportunities to form friendships.
Engaging and meaningful activities can also help a person cope with loneliness by making time spent alone more meaningful.
Those wishing to expand or rebuild their social connections may find social networking or dating sites to be useful, as these sites can help one locate people with common interests, reestablish contact with old friends, or form romantic attachments.
Individuals who are shy, experience social anxiety, or are reluctant to take social risks may be more ly to describe themselves as lonely and may have difficulty forming lasting and satisfying relationships.
When a person finds it challenging to reach out to others or self-disclose in order to form closeness and trust—both of which are generally necessary for a strong relationship to develop—therapy can often help.
Therapy for Loneliness
An individual who seeks therapy to address feelings of loneliness may find it helpful to explore potential factors that may contribute to these feelings. Often, these factors can be discussed and resolved in therapy.
For example, a person who feels lonely after the death of a close family member may be able to work through these feelings in therapy, addressing grief and loneliness together.
A person in therapy can also challenge and modify any thought patterns or perceptions that are associated with or contribute to loneliness, such as a perceived lack of control over life or social situations.When a person experiences loneliness due to a difficulty making and maintaining friendships, social skills training might be used in combination with other forms of therapy in order to further develop social strengths and communication skills.
As part of such training, individuals may practice beginning and ending conversations, giving and receiving compliments, and using or making sense of nonverbal forms of communication.
This kind of training can often encourage people to feel more confident about making social connections, which may help them become better able to do so.
- Killeen, C. (1998). Loneliness: An epidemic in modern society. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 28(4), 762-770.
- McWhirter, B. (1990). Loneliness: A review of current literature, with implications for counselling and research. Journal of Counseling and Development, 68, 417-422.
- Rokach, A. (2001). Strategies of coping with loneliness throughout the lifespan. Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social, 20(1), 3-18.
- Stickley, A., Koyanagi, A., Koposov, R., Schwab-Stone, M., & Ruchkin, V. (2014). Loneliness and health risk behaviours among Russian and U.S. adolescents: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 14, 366. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/366
Last Updated: 08-11-2015
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The Loneliness of Leadership
I appreciated very much the music of the band [BYU Symphonic Band, directed by Richard A. Ballou]. You are all awake after that. I will do what I can to restore you to your former state.
I have come here today without a written talk. I had one, but I discarded it. I awoke at five this morning thinking of something else. When I get through, I suppose you will say, “He should have slept.”
I am not here to preach. I do not wish to preach to you. It is easy to preach, and we do a great deal of it to young people. I would simply to talk with you. I believe you are worth spending time with. I believe you are worth reasoning with.
This is a devotional service.
I have only one desire, and that is to share with you a few thoughts in a very informal way, with a hope and prayer that I can bring some small measure of inspiration and lift to you.
I think you need that; I think we all do. I prayed this morning that I might be able to do so, that I would be guided by the Holy Spirit. And I hope that you will add your prayers to mine.
I suppose many of you watched President Nixon last night as I did, when he spoke to the nation and was listened to by the world. I watched him with great interest. I observed him as he wiped the perspiration from his face, realizing, I am sure, the importance of what he was saying. As I looked at him, I thought of the terrible loneliness of leadership.
True, he has advisors. He has at his beck and call any number of men with whom he can consult; but when all the chips are down, he has to face the world alone, as it were. His advisors do not face the cannon fire of public opinion. That comes to the leader.
As I sensed the loneliness of leadership while watching him, there came to my mind some great words from William Shakespeare: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” (King Henry IV, Part II, act 3, scene 1, line 31).
The Vietnam War
If the Lord will inspire me, I should to talk briefly about that. I was asked, when someone found out I was speaking here, to say something about the Vietnam War. I am a little reluctant to do so, but I think in terms of this general theme I might express a few thoughts. I have had many feelings about that conflict.
I have been in South Vietnam a number of times. I have witnessed the growth of our forces from a handful since I first went there in 1961 to the 540,000 who were there the last time I was there. I have known something of a feeling of bitterness over some aspects of that conflict.
I have spoken quietly in private conversation, never publicly, some rather trenchant criticism about some of the things I have observed. I have been in situations where I have tried to comfort those who mourned over the loss of choice sons. I have wept as I have turned away from the beds of those who have been maimed for life.
I think I have felt very keenly the feelings of many of our young men concerning this terrible conflict in which we are engaged, but I am sure we are there because of a great humanitarian spirit in the hearts of the people of this nation. We are there in a spirit of being our brother’s keeper.
I am confident that we have been motivated by considerations of that kind, and, regardless of our attitude on the conduct of the war, of our feelings concerning the diplomacy of our nation, we have to live with our conscience concerning those whose freedom we have fought to preserve.
We are there, and we find ourselves in a very lonely position as leaders in the world, criticized abroad as well as at home.
To Live with Ourselves
There is a great loneliness in leadership, but, I repeat, we have to live with ourselves. A man has to live with his conscience.
A man has to live up to his inner feelings—as does a nation—and we must face that situation.
I know of few if any alternatives with which we can live other than the alternative with which we are immediately faced. I think that is all I would to say about this today.There is a loneliness in all aspects of leadership. I think we feel it somewhat in this university.
BYU is being discussed across the nation today because of some of our practices and some of our policies and some of our procedures, but I would to offer the thought that no institution and no man ever lived at peace with itself or with himself in a spirit of compromise.
We have to stand for the policy that we have adopted. We may wonder in our hearts, but we have to stand on that position set for us by him who leads us, our prophet.
The Savior Walked Alone
It was ever thus. The price of leadership is loneliness. The price of adherence to conscience is loneliness. The price of adherence to principle is loneliness. I think it is inescapable.
The Savior of the world was a Man who walked in loneliness.
I do not know of any statement more underlined with the pathos of loneliness than His statement: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
There is no lonelier picture in history than of the Savior upon the cross, alone, the Redeemer of mankind, the Savior of the world, bringing to pass the Atonement, the Son of God suffering for the sins of mankind. As I think of that, I reflect on a statement made by Channing Pollock:
Judas with his thirty pieces of silver was a failure. Christ on the cross was the greatest figure of time and eternity.
Joseph Smith wise was a figure of loneliness. I have a great love for the boy who came the woods, who after that experience could never be the same again, who was berated and persecuted and looked down upon. Can you sense the pathos in these words of the boy prophet?
For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. [JS—H 1:25]
There are few more sorrowful pictures—not in our history anyway—than of the Prophet being rowed across the Mississippi River by Stephen Markham, knowing that his enemies were after his life, and then there came some of his own who accused him of running away. Hear his response: “If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself” (HC 6:549, 23 June 1844).
The History of the Church
This has been the history of this Church, my young friends, and I hope we will never forget it. It came as a result of the position of leadership which was imposed upon us by the God of heaven who brought forth a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And when the declaration was made concerning the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth, we were immediately put in a position of loneliness, the loneliness of leadership from which we cannot shrink nor run away and which we must face up to with boldness and courage and ability.
Our history is one of being driven, of being winnowed and peeled, or being persecuted and hounded. Recently we have experienced a new wave of criticism, as many of you know.
I go back to these words of Paul:
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. [2 Corinthians 4:8–9]
A Missionary’s Loneliness
I talked last night with the father of a missionary. He said, “I’ve just been talking with my son in another land. He is beaten; he is destroyed. He is lonely; he is afraid. What can I do to help him?”
I said, “How long has he been there?”
He said, “Three months.”
I said, “I guess that’s the experience of almost every missionary who has been there three months.
There is scarcely a young man or woman who is called to go into the world in a position of great responsibility to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who does not feel much of the time, I am sure, in the early months of his or her mission, the terrible loneliness of that responsibility. But he also comes to know, as he works in the service of the Lord, the sweet and marvelous companionship of the Holy Spirit which softens and takes from him that feeling of loneliness.”
The Lonely Convert
It is wise with the convert. I have been thinking this morning of a friend of mine whom I knew when I was on a mission in London thirty-six years ago. I remember his coming to our apartment through the rain of the night. He knocked at the door, and I invited him in.
He said, “I’ve got to talk with someone. I’m all alone. I’m undone.”
And I said, “What’s your problem?”
And he said, “When I joined the Church a little less than a year ago, my father told me to get his home and never come back. And I’ve never been back.”
He continued, “A few months later the cricket club of which I was a member read me off its list, barring me from membership with the boys with whom I had grown up and with whom I had been so close and friendly.”
Then he said, “Last month my boss fired me because I was a member of this church, and I have been unable to get another job and I have had to go on the dole.
“And last night the girl with whom I have gone for a year and a half said she would never marry me because I’m a Mormon.”
I said, “If this has cost you so much, why don’t you leave the Church and go back to your father’s home and to your cricket club and to the job that meant so much to you and to the girl you think you love?”
He said nothing for what seemed to be a long time. Then, putting his head down in his hands, he sobbed and sobbed. Finally, he looked up through his tears and said, “I couldn’t do that. I know this is true, and if it were to cost me my life, I could never give it up.”
He picked up his wet cap and walked to the door and out into the rain, alone and trembling and fearful, but resolute. As I watched him, I thought of the loneliness of conscience, the loneliness of testimony, the loneliness of faith, and the strength and comfort of the Spirit of God.
The Loneliness of Testimony
I would to conclude by saying to you here today, you young men and women who are in this great congregation, this is your lot. Oh, you are all together here now.
You are all of one kind; you are all of one mind. But you are training to go out into the world where you are not going to have about you ten thousand, twenty thousand, twenty-five thousand others you.
You will feel the loneliness of your faith.
It is not easy, for instance, to be virtuous when all about you there are those who scoff at virtue.It is not easy to be honest when all about you there are those who are interested only in making “a fast buck.”
It is not always easy to be temperate when all about you there are those who scoff at sobriety.
It is not easy to be industrious when all about you there are those who do not believe in the value of work.
It is not easy to be a man of integrity when all about you there are those who will forsake principle for expediency.
The Peace of the Spirit
I would to say to you here today, my brethren and sisters, there is loneliness—but a man of your kind has to live with his conscience. A man has to live with his principles. A man has to live with his convictions. A man has to live with his testimony.
Unless he does so, he is miserable—dreadfully miserable. And while there may be thorns, while there may be disappointment, while there may be trouble and travail, heartache and heartbreak, and desperate loneliness, there will be peace and comfort and strength.
A Promise and a Blessing
I these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]
I think that is a promise to each of us. I believe it; I know it. I bear testimony of its truth to you this day.
God bless you, my dear young friends, you of the noble birthright, you of the covenant, you who are the greatest hope of this generation—young men and women of ability and conscience, of leadership and tremendous potential.
God bless you to walk fearlessly, even though you walk in loneliness, and to know in your hearts that peace which comes of squaring one’s life with principle, that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), I humbly pray, as I leave with you my witness and my testimony of the divinity of this holy work. And as a servant of the Lord, I invoke upon you every joy as you go forward in your lives to rich and marvelously fruitful experiences, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Gordon B. Hinckley was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given on 4 November 1969.
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Causes of Loneliness
Loneliness doesn't develop overnight. It can be the result of a lifetime of influences that shape our personality. Or it can evolve after a major transition or trauma. Often we are unaware of the subtle forces that can slowly lead us into self-imposed isolation.
Some people tend to be loners because of circumstances in their childhood development. For example, growing up with an unaffectionate or overly critical parent may make one shy away from intimacy with others. Some people simply never learn to communicate well or get along with their peers.
Others have overly aggressive or demanding personalities that make people withdraw intimidation. Conversely, people with low self-esteem often withdraw from social situations they believe will lead to rejection.Loneliness can become a lifestyle for the person who struggles with poorly developed interpersonal skills.
There are also many social factors that contribute to loneliness. We live in an age in which modern technology has made it easier to do things without other people and without leaving our homes. Television is the chief culprit that robs us of time with relatives and neighbors.
For some, especially the elderly, the increased lihood of becoming the victim of a crime keeps them from venturing their homes.
Also, because our society is more mobile than in the past, families may relocate several times for career advancement or other reasons, which tends to discourage the development of deep friendships.
Loneliness can result from «situational factors,» circumstances in life that increase the possibility of isolation. People who are unmarried, divorced or widowed are more ly to encounter loneliness simply because they are more ly to be alone.
However, loneliness can also occur when a marriage relationship doesn't produce the closeness we expect.
The student separated from home, the leader who must remain aloof from his subordinates, the individual with a disability or disease — all face a greater chance of loneliness due to a situation in their lives.
Often loneliness brought on by developmental, social or situational factors leads to problems that only worsen loneliness.Alcoholism, drug abuse, family breakdown and other social ills are frequently rooted in loneliness and usually lead to greater alienation from meaningful human contact.
The proliferation of gangs, religious cults and other deviant social groups can be attributed largely to people's need to belong somewhere and their failure to find acceptance in a traditional setting.
Whatever may be contributing to your loneliness, there is a way out. It begins with confronting a cause of loneliness that every human being must come to terms with — the spiritual loneliness of being separated from God.
Each of us has a need to connect with something larger than ourselves in order to fill the spiritual vacuum that exists within us all. The Bible is God's plan for developing the most important relationship in our lives.
Loneliness and The Bible
As the story of Adam and Eve illustrates, God intends for us to share our lives with other people. The importance of personal relationships in God's eyes is evident in the amount of space devoted to them in the Bible.
Both the Old and New Testaments have a lot to say about marriage, parenthood, friendship and church fellowship. But it is also clear from God's Word that there is one relationship that is preeminent from God's point of view.
That is the fellowship He wants to have with us, which forms the foundation of all other relationships.
When we accept God's gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we enter into communion with the Creator of the universe. God Almighty becomes our Heavenly Father and He places His Holy Spirit within us.
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the «Counselor» (John 14:16), whose presence would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The Apostles Paul and John said God's Spirit would fill believers with assurance of our membership in God's family (Romans 8:16; I John 14:13).
Day by day, through prayer and Bible reading, we can experience the wonderful fellowship that God wants to have with each of His children. He is never too busy to listen.
A dynamic walk with God is a solid foundation for building relationships with others. As God's children, we are members of an incredibly large extended family that encompasses the world. Our brothers and sisters inhabit every nation on the globe.Spiritually speaking, our «immediate family» is the group of believers with whom we attend church. They form an important support group that functions much our natural family does.
Christians who don't go to church or don't get involved in church activities cut themselves off from a rich source of companionship.
If you are a Christian who is suffering from loneliness, ask yourself if you have taken full possession of the abundant life God wants you to have. Are you spending regular quality time with your Heavenly Father? Are you active in a local church? Ask God to lead you into a deeper relationship with Him and greater involvement with fellow believers.
If you have never invited Jesus Christ to be your Savior, now is a good time to do so. Making Jesus the Lord of your life will put you on a path that leads to intimacy with God, new friendships with fellow Christians in this life and an eternal place in God's presence in the life hereafter.
Steps for Overcoming Loneliness
Perhaps you've heard these suggestions from well-meaning friends: «Why not join a club?» or «You should do some traveling.
» They aren't bad ideas but they aren't solutions to the problem of loneliness either. The following steps will help you break free from thinking, emotions and behaviors that may be at the root of your loneliness.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify actions you can take to overcome loneliness.
Admit the Problem — Only after you acknowledge that you are lonely can you take the steps necessary to escape from your isolation.
Consider the causes — Evaluate your life honestly in light of the factors mentioned above. Do any of them apply to you?
Accept What Cannot Be Changed — The death of a spouse, a relocation away from old friends, and other unalterable circumstances must be faced squarely. God can use transitions in our lives to open doors to new experiences, but we must be willing to let go of the past and move on.
Alter What Can Be Changed — Many of the causes of loneliness discussed above can be overcome.
Do you fear rejection because you feel inadequate? Do you stay in your home watching television when you could be at a social function? Has your best friend just moved away? Regardless of the reason for your loneliness, you owe it to yourself to take measures that will meet the problem head-on.
- Work on developing self-esteem by stopping destructive self-talk, such as telling yourself that you are unlikable. There are many good books on the subjects or rational thinking and misbelief therapy that can help you.
- Practice looking at yourself from God's perspective. Study the Scriptures and meditate on verses that depict God's view of His children.
- Make it a point to get the house at least once a week. Attend church activities; participate in community functions; take a class, etc…
- Get involved in a cause. There are many groups looking for faithful volunteers who want to make a difference. Of course, working for a ministry or charity is also a great way to meet people.
Develop New Habits That Build Up Your Inner Self — As you become a stronger, more self-assured person, you'll find it easier to make new friends and encounter new situations. Try some of these strategies for self-improvement:
- Meditate on God's Word for relaxation and to ease the effects of stress on your life.
- Establish a schedule for a day, weekend or a week. Loneliness often seems more intense when we have nothing to do. Organize your time and be sure to include some outside activities.
- Start exercising regularly. Take walks around your neighborhood, a local park or a shopping mall. You'll feel better physically and emotionally.
Make the most your time alone. Aloneness (as opposed to loneliness) can be a very positive experience.
Aloneness, or solitude, gives us a chance to reflect on our lives, to meditate on God's will for us and to find healing for the wounds inflicted by the world.
Many experts feel that we spend too little time alone and that we would all be better off by planning regular times of solitude in our lives.
Make an Effort to Make New Friends — Often all that is required to escape loneliness is the determination to seek out a new friend. Overcoming shyness and the fear of rejection are usually the biggest obstacles to initiating a friendship. Keep the following in mind as you try to establish new relationships:
- Look for someone with whom you share a common interest.
- Take the initiative and give the person a call. Chances are that person may be looking for a friend as well.
- Build a friendship slowly. Don't overwhelm a new acquaintance with your problems and opinions. With time the openness to express feelings will develop. Give compliments and be thoughtful. Refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Be a good listener.
Consider Buying a Pet — Pets can be a wonderful source of companionship. Don't overlook the possibilities. Pets offer uncomplicated companionship and unquestioning affection. They can even become the catalyst for friendships with other pet owners.
Loneliness can be overcome. But it's up to you to take the steps necessary to break free from its grip. Ask your Heavenly Father for the courage to reach out to others and try new things. Trust Him to give you what He wants you to have — an abundant life that includes intimate and faithful friends.