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Why are we so lonely?

Nov 09, 2020

I have been studying recently about the intense amount of loneliness our society has been experiencing, and what can be done about it.

Two books I've read have had a huge effect on me and my studies. They are excellent resources for anyone who is looking for more information. Together was written by a former United States Surgeon General. Braving The Wilderness was written by Brené Brown, and addresses loneliness from her research. 

Each of these books has a unique perspective and shared belief that our society is lonelier than ever, and the results of this loneliness are crippling us.

What's the big deal about being lonely anyway? Isn't everyone lonely sometimes? Haven't we all had times where we've felt like we're surrounded by people and yet not really connected with anyone?

While being lonely is something we all experience at one time or another, the number of people who are consistently reporting feeling lonely is growing at an alarming rate. We have more technology than ever available to us to help connect us with our family and friends, yet we seem to be more isolated than ever.

We can see the harm that loneliness is having on our society within the recent elections . Since we aren't creating true connection with others, our society is becoming more and more polarized. We have a harder time seeing other people and understanding their points of view. We avoid relationships with those who are different from us in an attempt to create more connection with our "tribe".

Hate, violence, prejudice, judgement, rioting and bullying rear their ugly heads when we begin to feel our beliefs threatened by another person or group. Social media is now so targeted around our own belief system that it's hard to believe that anyone could possibly see the world differently from us. Facebook ads and news report platforms will align what they show you with what they determine your belief system to be, making it seem like the world revolves around your sense of logic. How could it not?

I love Brené Brown's advice to us when we begin to feel that pull to isolate and defend our mindset.

What this looks like for me is when I feel the walls start to come up, I take a deep breath, step back, and try to see a different perspective. 

What are this person's stories, background, reasons, feelings and life like? Why do they have different beliefs than I have? How can I look at this subject in a different way?

I don't have to change my belief system, but when I make the effort to understand where they are coming from, I feel and act more civilly toward them. It erases the hate and frustration and softens my heart.

 

 

 

How this relates to parenting

You may wonder how this relates to parenting.

Our kids are going to have a myriad of different experiences, different views and different ideas than we do. We have more life experience, fears, wisdom and a different depth of understanding than our kids do, but both viewpoints are valid and both are important.

When we see things from a teenager's eyes, we often see a world where things are centered around themselves. Their brains haven't matured enough to see outside themselves and how things affect them. The consequence of this is that they often feel like victims. Things happen TO them instead of FOR them. They can feel  like everyone is judging and critiquing them. Can you remember what that was like? The world wasn't your friend. It didn't take much to feel like you wanted to just crawl into a corner. Your sense of self wasn't as developed and you cared so deeply what your peers and tribe thought of you. At times it felt like you were raw and exposed, never good enough, never worthy of being loved.

As adults our experiences and age have given us a different perspective. And although we still care about what others think, we know more about who we are and what we are here to do. Hurtful judgmental comments still open up old wounds of shame and insecurity. But we have adapted different ways to cope. Our skin is a bit tougher.

When you feel like you're butting heads with your kids, take a step back and try to see a different viewpoint. What is the real problem? Why is your child acting out? Is your teen hiding pain and deflecting that on you? Where is the struggle originating from? Fear? Pain? Lack of love?

There are always many sides and many truths to whatever it is you are looking at. Lean in, move closer, and let down your walls. I believe you'll find that some truths really can be relative.

Keep thriving my friends! 

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