“Loneliness fosters a self-defeating psychology that makes it difficult to escape its clutches. The longer our loneliness lasts, the more challenging it can be to break the mindsets and judgements (both ours and others’) that contribute to maintaining our isolation.” Specifically:
Loneliness impacts our perceptions such that we are likely to view our existing relationships more negatively and pessimistically. We assume people aren’t interested in our company and that if we reach out to them they will reject us and turn us down. As a result we take little initiative and find excuses to turn down invitations when we do get them.
Our negativity and reluctance to give our friends the benefit of the doubt creates self-fulfilling prophecy in which our own reactions and avoidance pushes them away even further. Because we remain blind to our part in creating the distance, we see their withdrawal as confirmation of our fears and become even more convinced they no longer care about us.
Loneliness is very visible to others who are likely to label us as less interesting and less appealing as social prospects. The stigma, combined with the negativity and suspicion we might project in social situations makes it challenging for us to establish new social and romantic connections.
Loneliness is contagious. Studies of social networks found that over time, lonely people ‘infect’ those around them such that they too become pushed to the periphery of their social networks. As a result, our remaining friends and family and social contacts might provide diminishing opportunities for social connection,
The more socially and emotionally isolated we are the more our social skills and relationship ‘muscles’ tend to atrophy.
Skill sets often weaken when unused and our ability to try to use these ‘muscles’ we don’t attribute the failure or rejection to our skill sets being rusty but see it as further evidence of our fundamental undesirability.
Becoming aware of how dangerous chronic loneliness is to your mental and physical health should give you the motivation to overcome the natural pessimism you feel and the courage to take an emotional risk and re-engage with the world.
Reference: OTMH. Oakville, ON.