Overview of Loneliness

Longing for a pack.

Imagine you are a wolf pup. You are born into the world with a whole pack that will protect you from predators, hunt for food for you to eat, play with you when all is calm, teach you how to be a grown up wolf, and hunt/fight in cooperation with the rest of the pack. You fit in so well and felt cared for and connected to your community. Now imagine that one day, there is a terrible blizzard. You tried your best to stay with the group but suddenly you couldn’t see anyone, the wind was so strong you couldn’t smell them, and their tracks were getting covered by all the snow. You thought you knew where everyone was headed but you got turned around and somehow and were not able to find them. Now you are one of those "lone wolves" everyone always refers to. You feel cold, scared, hungry, and lonely. You long for your pack to snuggle up to keep you warm, reassure you that you would have help if you encounter a grizzly bear, or help you catch one of those fast, little, tasty creatures when it’s mealtime. You feel sad because you miss your friends and family that you grew up with and got support from. You try to hunt on your own but it is much harder and takes more energy. You worry if you will survive on your own long enough to find your pack, or if the cold, hunger, or bear might get you first.

Why Connection is Important

Like wolves, humans are biologically wired for connection with other humans (and often other species as well, such as dogs or cats). We are social beings and rely on one another for increased chances of survival. In simpler times this reliance involved sharing resources (food/water/shelter), providing protection from danger, or caring for infants in harsh environments. Having help with all of this was paramount. Like the lone wolf, navigating life’s modern challenges becomes easier when you are not responsible for everything all at once all by yourself. There is so much to gain from the company of others, it is no wonder we naturally gravitate towards keeping other people available.

When people are not available for connection, we often feel a longing, or sense that something is missing/lost, which often also feels sad. We may find ourselves alone for all sorts of reasons, intentional or not (rejection of others)/(abandonment by others), and justify this being fine because of cultural expectations to be “independent” or “not have to rely on anyone but myself.” However, frequently people who encounter social isolation end up feeling lonely, and are likely to have more long term consequences to their overall health and well-being over time. Research has shown that it is the quality of the connection with another person that matters more than the quantity of people you are close to. This is why you can feel lonely in a crowded place, but content if you have even one or two close relationships. The people you are meaningfully connected to are those who you can trust to provide you with support when needed.

Symptoms of Loneliness

  • Alone
  • Unsupported
  • Misunderstood
  • Disliked
  • Not belonging/fitting in
  • Judged

Click the button if you are ready to begin therapy and learn to recognize imperfections as part of the shared human experience, and feel more connected to others though our felt sense of common humanity.

What to Expect in Therapy when addressing Loneliness

Dr. Julie Griffin can help you explore how you came to feel lonely, what gets in the way of feeling connected with others, and what you can do to begin creating more meaningful relationships. Dr. Griffin also addresses learning to recognize symptoms along with their triggers, develop coping skills to regulate your body, understand how emotions influence behavior, process your experiences in a new way, reduce self-critical judgment, identify values, set healthy boundaries, engage in self-care and self-compassion, learn how your past experiences contribute to your lonliness, and make empowered decisions about pursuing meaningful goals.

Dr. Julie Griffin offers free phone consultations to help you determine if therapy with her might be a good fit for you.

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About Dr. Julie Griffin

Dr. Griffin uses an integrative psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy in order to help clients better understand themselves within their life context. She specializes in healing relationships, both through couples counseling and individual therapy.

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