Do you ever feel so lonely that you're emotionally paralyzed? When that happens, you go from discomfort to real physical pain.
At the time, you don't think about how to cope. You just want the hurt to go away. Unfortunately, it won't leave until you do something, and that's where most singles have trouble. If you're depressed, all your ambition seems to have fled.
Is there a way to break out of this bear trap of loneliness? Can you manage to do something when that's the last thing you feel like? If it's possible to break this inertia, just how do you go about it? Let's look again at this problem of loneliness, so common among single people.
Although this emotion seems to sneak up on you out of the blue, there's usually a trigger behind it. Most often it's thoughts of a past relationship. Or maybe you see a happy couple and wonder why you can't have that. Or again, you become pessimistic about your future, thinking it has to be like your past.
One of the illogical things we humans do is let our destructive thoughts beat up on us. We punish ourselves when we've done nothing wrong. We keep piling on one criticism after another until the load is more than we can bear.
It's a fact that our physical health can have an effect on our emotions. When we're too tired or stressed, worries
seem to get magnified. All of us, men and women alike, are subject to
the mysterious workings of our glands and organs. If we don't
understand what's going on, our own body can play a role in our sadness.
Maybe too, we inwardly curse our shyness and them blame our self for not doing anything about it.
We know what we want, but we seem incapable of achieving it. When you feel so lonely, depression and frustration add their accusing voices.
Doing anything seems like too much effort. It's always easier to perpetuate the cycle of self-flagellation. But that only makes matters worse.
In your heart, you know you need to break free. When you reach that truth, the next problem is how to do it.
If you're a Christian, look to your faith to keep you from making bad choices. People who feel so lonely that they turn to alcohol, drugs, or one-night stands aren't even putting a Band-Aid on the problem. They're making the pain worse, if not now, then later.
At the bottom the problem is one of relationships. My cousin, a single man in his 60s, looked at his loneliness and realized he had isolated himself from people. He lives in a large city but joined the Kiwanis Club, instantly gaining 200 new friends.
While he won't want to become close to all of them, he probably will find one or two that he shares interests with. He'll proceed slowly, carefully, trying to build a relationship of mutual trust.
It takes courage to do something like that, but most clubs and organizations are always looking for new members--the same with churches. When I changed churches a few years ago, I was warmly welcomed in the new congregation. After just a few years there, I feel at home.
Breaking free is best done in small steps, gradually going outside our comfort zone so we don't take on so much stress that we retreat back into our shell.
Loneliness is awfully I-centered. We singles always run a danger of
becoming selfish, because we often don't answer to anyone. We forget
that we all answer to God.
When Jesus commanded us to "Love your neighbor as yourself," he was giving us singles good advice. We need a godly sense of self-esteem, but we do well to show kindness to others too.
Judging from my mother's example, I think the more compassion we show to others, the less loneliness we'll feel. When you're relieving another's pain, your own sort of fades into the background.
In the end, God gives each of us the courage to do what we need to do. We can't create courage on our own. We get strength from God, knowing that he supports us when we reach out to others.
We can manage our loneliness when we become Jesus to others, listening to their cares, praying for them, helping where we can, and risking enough to be a friend.