So, you’re lonely? So was I: Part One

Written by Trevor Wales

Imported

April 3, 2024

In this mini-series of blogs on loneliness, I will share with you what I did to overcome it and how I have helped others. Part One

 

Loneliness is a pretty common thing nowadays. While loneliness is not a modern experience or phenomenon, I think more people are experiencing it and perhaps we, as a society, are more aware of it than in the past.

If we go back to the early 1900s most people lived in villages and towns which were actually quite small. So too were most of the cities. What that meant was that we lived in smaller communities where most people knew somebody.

Most people in the lower and working classes tended to live side by side in small terraced houses, quite literally rubbing up against one another, and so social isolation was not as common as it is today.

Then with the dawn of the age of steam and mechanised transport, people began to be more mobile and suburbs began to develop. We started to move away out of central towns and had more space around us. But with space, came more isolation. I’m sure you remember your grandparents knowing everyone on the street. As time has passed we have become more insular and further apart as a society. When was the last time you truly took the time to talk with your neighbour? 

In past times, people such as land and sea workers often had hard lives, but it was a way of life that they came to accept.
Lighthouse workers and farm hands acclimatised to working in relative or total isolation, and I wonder if our forebears actually had a greater self-resilience than we do today?  The same type of resilience that helped them throughout the two great wars, the Spanish Flu and the great depression of the 1920s may have been just the thing that also gave them a greater sense of community.      

Society is more mobile than it ever was with people often moving far from their families to find work and affordable living. From a British perspective, we are a fairly conservative nation and not as outgoing  or gregarious as perhaps our European or American friends.

People that I see in the therapy room often reflect that they find it difficult to mix with others, fine new partners and make new friends, and I believe from my own experience that the older we become the harder it is to make friends.

Working lives have also become more time consuming, interfering with that work-life balance that we all strive for. Some of my clients spend so much time at work that it becomes detrimental to their relationships. 

Many parents bringing up young children whilst working also find ‘the dream’ is not as rosy as they imagined. From my own experience when I was younger, working long hours left me with little time for socialising. It also led to health conditions, and becoming a therapist really did open my eyes to the mind/body connection in this regard.

I have come to believe that both tiredness and burnout due to an out of kilter work/life situation may be in part, a contributory factor to loneliness.

I also think that resilience is a factor. The pressures that modern living imposes upon us even with all of our labour-saving devices and all of the nice new furnishings and expensive cars and homes that we desire actually put a lot of pressure on us as a consumer society.

I am now in my mid to late sixties, still working with clients in a clinical setting, and as I think about loneliness, it strikes me that we may be living lives, for the most part,  that are not working sustainably well for us to feel happy and fulfilled.

I’ve noticed too, that people tend to fill up their lives with ‘STUFF’ to make them feel better.

I remember, about 20 years ago now, one of my very good friends mums talking to him and his wife, and pointing out that despite all of the hardships she went through in the early years of her marriage in the 40s, 50s & mid sixties, that she would not swap any of it for my friends fancy life style, full of endless working hours. They may have lovely holidays and posh cars, a new detached house etc, but they were breaking themselves to work for it all.

In fact, many years later, both of my friends had major illnesses. I remember my friends mum saying that they were both like ships in the night, hardly there to see one another. The question she asked was this; “Are you living to work or working to live?”  And I consider this question to be an important one.

And of course, stress and the subsequent loneliness can lead to illness. Some of the research done over some years suggests that long term stress and burnout can lead to cancers too, so it’s important to remember that we are not machines, and we do need to rest between working and running the rest of our lives. This is where talking to a therapist can be useful. Hypnotherapy may be particularly beneficial to reduce stress levels and in identifying the areas we should look to change. 

When we are tired we can become isolated and lonely in partnerships even, because we are so tired to do anything to keep that flame of interest and love alight. I was a victim of a similar situation myself, years ago, working too long, too far away from home and chasing money and very much in debt to pay for it all.  Life can put us in some lonely situations. 

In the next blog I am going to list some typical things about loneliness, the sneaky things that can creep up on us without our realising it and the signs to look out for. 

I will talk about the different types of loneliness and the things that can cause loneliness in many aspects of life from early childhood into old age and what we can do to turn that around.

Did you know for example Our social and environmental conditioning can have an impact upon loneliness and how we might deal with situations likely to cause loneliness?  It can also be learned behaviours from significant people in our lives and also our personality types; whether we are inward or outward facing personalities.   

I will also list the side effects of loneliness and the long-term health conditions loneliness can lead to.

I will talk about over coming resistance to change and how we can turn our situation around. 

I will be writing the blog from my own personal experience as a schoolboy, shy and bullied because of learning difficulties. The thing is, I understand how things can be, and so I can help others to overcome loneliness by using the therapy techniques I’ve learnt over time. 

I will also use an anonymised case study of one of my early widowed clients in their eighties who was suffering both from grief and loneliness, and explain how Hypnotherapy and counselling helped him turn that around.    

In the mean time, if you’d like to chat to someone who understands loneliness and how to turn things around, get in touch, I’d be happy to help. 

 

Trevor Wales – Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist
https://www.trevorwaleshypnotherapysolutions.co.uk/

Published : Apr 3, 2024