If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Old African proverb
John Cacioppo, American neuroscientist and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, argues that loneliness developed for important evolutionary reasons: to remind us that as social beings we must seek the company of others. Societies and individuals who drift into disconnection are fostering problems for the future. Twice as unhealthy as obesity, loneliness poses a significant health risk. Men are particularly vulnerable with nearly half of all men over 50 suffering from severe loneliness. This figure is expected to rise by 50% in the next fifteen years.
For me, being motherless at a young age and living in a family of two, satisfying as it was, motivated me to broaden my relationships. It also taught me how to enjoy my own company—to be alone without being lonely. Though I’ve been motherless, divorced and widowed, I’ve rarely felt lonely. Like hobbies and physical activity, fostering the skill of making friends is developed when we need it the least. Friendship/relationships require attention. Similar to keeping your muscles strong, without effort and attention, relationship atrophy can easily set it and along with it loneliness.
Affirmation: I am not alone.
Coaching questions: What are you doing now to keep loneliness at bay in the future? If you are lonely, what’s one step you will take today to feel less so—call an old friend, attend a social event, reach out to a neighbor, volunteer with others?