Lonely and Alone. Is There a Difference?

I’m sitting there at the dining table surrounded by familiar faces, these are my friends. So why do I feel so alone? Or is it that I feel lonely?

This was some time ago, when I was at Uni. I can remember it so vividly. Despite the laughter and good vibes, I felt isolated and at the time, couldn’t explain why. To answer my question what I really felt was lonely.

It’s Loneliness Awareness week and I wanted to blog about this because, as the situation above illustrates, loneliness is something I have felt. I think we’ve probably all felt lonely at some point in our lives. I believe we need to raise awareness because for some loneliness is something they feel profoundly, like I did at times in my life when I didn’t quite know or understand myself.

So let’s get clear on what the difference is between being alone and being lonely. I found a great article in Psychology Today which addresses this and defines these as follows:

Being alone is the physical state of not being with another individual, might it be human or animal…Being lonely is a psychological state characterised by a distressing experience occurring when one’s social relationships are (self-)perceived to be less in quantity and quality than desired.

Psychology Today

So in a nutshell, being alone is a physical reality of being by yourself. Where as being lonely is a painful experience which means we feel alone, although we may not be, because we’re not getting enough of something.

So for me, loneliness was an issue because, the pain of my childhood had caused me to build walls so I’d never be hurt again. (As if that’s possible 🤷🏾). I didn’t realise a negative consequence of reducing the possibility of getting hurt also reduced their ability to truly connect. Is loneliness something you’ve struggled with?

I freed myself from loneliness by building the courage to open up and become vulnerable. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years! I mean watch my TEDx talk to get an idea of what I’m talking about here. If you’re struggling with loneliness, ask yourself why? You’ll be surprised how much you really know. You may not get an answer straight away, but you’ll get an answer. After which the challenge is then are you going to be brave enough to do something about it? Will you step outside your comfort zone?

Within each of us is the power to create change. The power to be the change. I don’t really feel loneliness much at all these days. However, if you do, reach out to someone else who might also feel a bit lonely. Together you can alleviate that feeling of loneliness. We were born for connection with others and that’s why loneliness strikes at our core.

If want to be a part of something beautiful on Saturday, 25th June 2022, check out The Women Like Me L&B Conference, themed ‘Rise & Shine Queen’ and join us. Click here for details.

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