When life begins to pile on us, it’s easy to believe we’re the only one going through the trials and problems we are experiencing. It’s easy to feel all alone, like no one else on earth could possibly relate to our situation or circumstances. Chances are, though, that we’re not really alone. Someone, somewhere, is experiencing – or has experienced – the same situation. Does that make your problem easier? Not necessarily – but it may ease the stress to know that you’re not alone in the challenge, no matter how bad, weird, extreme, or disastrous it may seem.
Although loneliness and depression are not the same thing, they are intricately related. With current figures indicating that more than 15 million Americans suffer from chronic depression, there’s no denying it’s a serious problem. I’ve heard it said that nearly 40 percent of us feel we don’t have even one close friend – and without even one person in our corner when times get tough, it’s easy to turn to desperate measures.
One of the biggest contributors to a chronic sesne of loneliness seems to be the feeling of not belonging. In his famous “hierarchy of needs,” Abraham Maslow defined the sense of belonging as the third most important need of every human being. An eHow article describes the senese of belonging as “the feeling of being connected and accepted within one’s family and community. It is important in healthy human development and combating behavior problems and depression.”
When we’re in a funk – or depression – the last thing we may want to do is go out and be social, and yet that’s the very thing that can pull us out of the blues. There are lots of places to find groups and other inviduals who share our challenges. Meetup.com has groups for almost any interest under the sun. With some careful scrutiny, craigslist can be a very useful tool for finding people with similar interests. And if all else fails, you can start your own group: put an ad in your local newspaper, church bulletin, or on facebook.
The book 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women naturally lends itself to discussion groups, which can help facilitate conversations that lead to a stronger sense of belonging. That said, I clearly am not a doctor, nor am I engaged in offering medical, health, psychological, or any other kind of personal professional services or advice. If you require personal medical, health, psychological, or other assistance or advice, you should definitely contact a professional.
Please mark your calendar for next Tuesday, November 16, when Therese Skelly and I will be hosting In All Honesty – a teleconference with two experts speaking on the topics of question-asking and journaling as powerful tools for self-development. Don’t worry if you can’t make the scheduled call time – we will make a recording available to all who register.