Alone not Lonely

Shaun Emerson Blog 4 Comments

I like being alone. There are many activities I would prefer to do solo, but I don’t often get the chance. I am rarely alone. I think I decided long ago that engaging others would lead to a more fruitful life. So, I do it. A lot. I love and am curious about people, but engaging can be draining. I find myself at times craving solitude.  I feel lucky that I want to be and have the emotional ability to be alone, and yet I am never lonely. And that’s a statement confirmed by the UCLA Loneliness Scale.

In 1978, UCLA researchers, M.L. Ferguson, Daniel Russell and Letitia Anne Peplau, developed a survey for measuring loneliness now known as the UCLA Loneliness Scale. The scale has been revamped a couple of times over the years and is the most commonly used survey across the world to assess loneliness. Using the scale, Cigna determined in its 2020 Loneliness Index that 3 in 5 Americans considered themselves lonely (pre-covid). According to their findings, loneliness has a larger impact on certain demographics: 

  • Men are lonelier than women 
    • Younger people (18-22) are lonelier than older people (72+) 
    • Those living in urban and suburban communities are less lonely than those in rural areas

Cigna also found that social media has a major impact on loneliness with very heavy social media users significantly more likely to feel alone, isolated, left out and without companionship. 

Where are you on the loneliness scale? Click on the link to complete the survey. 

https://artemciy.gitlab.io/loneliness-scale/#/

How do you feel about your results? If you are feeling lonely or not, I want to suggest four actions that I believe can have a positive impact on your state of loneliness/connection to others:

1. Feel the emotion: Let the emotion take center stage. If you let yourself feel the emotion 100%, it may just move through you more quickly. Be with the discomfort fully.

2. Be Alone. Love Yourself. Shocker! Being alone is often the only time we can truly rest, unstimulated by the environment and other people. Being alone can be a great source of joy. Love being alone with the best company, you.

3. Be Silent. Silence can be difficult and even scary. Choose to do something that simply allows you to be in silence. Be as present as you can with everything around you and within you.

4. Engage. Putting yourself out there can be scary too. With love of self and strength found in silence, reach out to others.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you want to share. 

Comments 4

  1. Thanks for sharing, Shaun, and could not agree more about the difference between feeling lonely versus being alone. Per the test, I’m told that loneliness is not my immediate concern, so, um, phew! And I must give props to MenLiving for being a big part of that. 🙂

    I am with you in loving the opportunity to be alone… and don’t often have the opportunity… so I’m loving the advice on connection and leaning into the aloneness or the loneliness that comes at times. Of the points, I’m mostly working on putting myself out there, so cheers to my brothers here!

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      Thank you for sharing, Craig. I know when I am alone, I am still never alone. Friends like you enable me to feel that connection even when I am “off-line.”

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