It’s 2024 and the world is more connected than ever through the power of the internet.
You can talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time. You can FaceTime your loved one who lives on the other side of the world.
Technology has truly let us stay connected while traveling to the far ends of the earth.
The internet is also an amazing place to find like-minded people that you otherwise wouldn’t find in your local area. You can connect with someone who likes just about any hobby or interest you love. It’s a great way to feel more accepted and seen for your authentic self.
So if we are all connected more than ever before, why are we the loneliest we’ve ever been? A recent study found that more than 1 billion people in the world feel lonely, and the number is probably much higher. If we can connect to anyone in the world, why are millions of us suffering from loneliness?
I believe one of the biggest causes of this is the influence of western culture throughout the entire world. This idea of individualism has reached pretty much everywhere at this point. Western culture heavily encourages individuals over community and connection. We prioritize going to work and making money and forget everything else. This works great if you want to get rich, but not so much if you want to be happy.
I notice this difference of individualism over community when I visit India. My husband grew up there and we try to visit every year or every other year. I absolutely love going to India because it’s an amazing place full of energy, delicious food, bright colors, and welcoming people.
The biggest difference I see is that people in India are always in groups talking with one another, laughing, and smiling. You can go to any local café or restaurant and start up a conversation. It’s extremely different from life in America where everyone keeps their head down and spends the majority of their time at work.
I have also heard that people who have moved from India to America feel extremely lonely and isolated and are not used to being alone all the time. My husband has the greatest stories from growing up and how those connections and friendships he had were his sweetest memories. I wish we could infuse just a little bit of that culture into life here in the U.S.
I think another reason for this loneliness epidemic is caused by the internet doing more harm than good. We’ve reached a point where everyone is focused on being the next internet sensation and our eyes are constantly on our phone. It’s a sad reality that we haven’t quite realized the detrimental effects of.
While the internet is a great way to connect with people like you and find new friends, it should never be a replacement for in-person relationships. There’s nothing like being surrounded by a community that cares about you and one you can lean on for support.
I too have felt lonely at various points in my life, especially when I moved to a new city where I knew no one. I had just turned 25 years old and was excited for this new adventure, but I also felt those loneliness pangs when I had no one to text or call on the weekend.
Loneliness can have disastrous effects on your mental well-being and overall happiness, as I too experienced. There were nights when I questioned why I even moved somewhere new and just wanted to give it all up completely.
Loneliness is a tricky thing because it’s also what prevents you from forming connections with others. Feeling lonely usually makes you want to stay isolated because you don’t have the energy to reach out to people. Or maybe you don’t want to be rejected if you do. It’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to get out of.
But when I took a step back and took a hard look at myself, I realized why I was feeling so lonely. It wasn’t because there was a lack of people around me. In fact, most people can feel lonely even when in the company of others. The truth was I was lonely because I didn’t even know myself well enough to be able to connect with other people.
Loneliness stems from a lack of connection to oneself, which prevents you from forming strong connections to people.
Everything changed in the moment I made that profound realization. It brought a sense of peace to me because I knew that I had the power to heal my loneliness. It was then that I decided to go on a deep transformation to get to know who Annie was, aside from all the labels society gave me.
When I started to become best friends with myself, I learned so much about who I was and what I enjoyed. This gave me the confidence to reach out to other people and form friendships. It gave me the confidence to let myself be seen and accepted by others.
So even though we live in a more Westernized world, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from this tough emotion. When you dare to get off social media and be okay with missing out on the latest trend, you can get to know the person in the mirror.
To start getting to know yourself, here are some powerful questions to start with:
>> What makes me feel energized and alive?
>> What interests or hobbies light me up?
>> If I didn’t care what people thought of me, how would I live?
>> What does it mean to feel seen by other people?
>> How can I reach out to someone today to make them feel accepted?
>> How can I take the first step to strengthen a connection I already have in my life?
Once you start answering these questions and form a relationship with yourself, you will build confidence from the inside out. You will start emitting a positive energy and people can’t help but want to be around you.
Start healing your loneliness today by becoming friends with the most important person in your life: you!