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. Hard to do right now, but we must persevere and be creative.
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 fifty suffering from severe loneliness. This figure is expected to rise by fifty percent in the next fifteen years (Heaven only knows what the figure is in 2020).
For me, being motherless at a young age and living in a family of two, 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, I believe that fostering the skill of making friends is developed when we need it the least to be there for us when we need it the most.
Friendship/relationships require attention. Similar to keeping our muscles strong, without effort and attention, relationship atrophy can easily set in and along with it loneliness.
Affirmation: I pay attention to relationships.
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, Zoom a social event, reach out to a neighbor?