Swaziland
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COMBATING GHOST OF LONELINESS

As the social beings that we were created as, we are innately in constant need for relationships – whether it is with a friend, a new partner or family – it is the basis of all humanity that we keep some sort of ‘intangible connection’ with one another.

This, of course, has physical benefits but rather significantly, it has an overbearing weight on the psychological and emotional health of an individual for a number of reasons.

Achievements

For instance, the knowledge that one has the security of family members, he or she can share their achievements, disappointments and traumas with, it can be considered a very safe basic platform to psychologically ‘work’ from; also, the existing, highly involved socio-emotional support system that the individual has provides a very significant buffer in the face of prospective mental health inflictions. These socio-emotional support systems come in varying forms; it could be family, co-workers or your friend of 10 years – and what they do is to provide advice, provide us with an important sense of inclusion and involvement, all of which contribute to the wholesome health of our psycho-emotional dimension.

Support

The flip side of this, what is it like for someone who is not as privileged to have this sort of support? For someone who lacks that channel of emotional expression or a source of reassurance and warmth? This, unfortunately is the case for many people (across all ages groups), and not having this innate need met, fosters the most negative of impacts on that individual’s psychological well-being. Overtime, this is how we arrive at loneliness; which, in my words, is a feeling that resembles emptiness, a loud lack of an existing connection with anyone and feeling short of any kind of social involvement.

Besides the obvious, loneliness creates a perception of the individual’s world as one in which they are the sole respondents to everything going on in their lives (particularly the negative). Consequently, all these repressed emotions that transform into harmful thoughts and skewed self-images then ‘blossom’ into mental health issues like depression. Even though loneliness applies even physically, it is the psychological implication that tends to wreak more havoc on someone’s mental health. There are various justifications for why many people find themselves on the psychological ‘lonely road’ and many of them have a lot to do with our relationships with each other.

Select

In some cases, people purposely select to adopt lonesome behaviour because of an unpleasant response they may have got from someone they mistook as a confidante. In other cases, they may have felt excluded or not recognised by their family or whatever the case may be, and this could have served as a trigger for them to protect themselves, their esteem and self-image by withdrawing from all activities or people who may cause them that negativity. In the long-run, it is this seclusion that draws them deeper and deeper into isolation and finding solace in being alone.

Therefore, the underlying message here is, we, as a society, can do much better in terms of being solid support structures for those we know. I feel we can learn to talk less about other people’s struggles and instead talk more to them about their strengths. The rather straightforward act of just ‘being there’ for someone goes the longest way in creating involved, optimistic and cheery individuals which is what we all want. Send comments to: runsford0505@gmail.com.