The Lonely Social Animal
We humans are by biological nature social animals. Under normal circumstances we tend to prefer being with others. Little ones are not hermits unless there is a pathology. Some adults choose to isolate themselves. They are alone but not necessarily lonely.
But what about those who are lonely as a result of being alone, especially during the holiday season? Because it goes against their natural instincts, it often becomes extremely depressing and demoralizing. They may have lost their life partner, or their children may have moved away, or they have no children, or they have been forced to relocate for a variety of reasons. The specific reason is not the issue. Being alone and lonely affects not only emotions but even the immune system. The problem is further complicated by the fact that very often people who are depressed tend to isolate, which makes them even lonelier.
Be especially sensitive to those around you. Be inclusive when it comes to invitations. If you can, volunteer to help people. Very often the lonely social animal is a senior, but there are certainly those who are down on their luck. Don’t judge. It could be drugs. It could be mental illness. There can be many reasons. Some insensitive people blame the person for “making bad choices in their life”. Don’t be one of those people who is more interested in blame than in helping.
Here's a thought. Ask them for help. While that’s counterintuitive initially, you are actually making them feel needed. Not only do they feel included, but they feel valued. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but you also don’t want it to seem like charity work. Many lonely people are uncomfortable with that and see themselves as a burden. If you can’t do any of that, at least call or send them a note. Let them know they’re not forgotten.
If you’re one of the lonely people, try not to isolate yourself. Be a part of as many activities as you can. You may be alone in your day-to-day life, but you don’t have to be lonely. Love yourself enough to give yourself some joy.
Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.