LONELINESS =/= VIOLENCE
I felt a bit conflicted about posting this article as my first on this blog. But this is a mental health blog, I do not want to promote or propagate any kind of shame on any aspect of mental health. And when people say they’re lonely, some people tend to judge them silently. Sometimes loudly. And it’s a completely normal human emotion for people to feel othered by society, friends, and even family.
As a society, we are always very supportive when people say they have mental health issues, sometimes even using it to excuse horrible, brutal crimes, but at least half of the people who claim to be sympathetic and understanding never do any research beyond just telling people that we support them. That’s why we hesitate to let people know we’re depressed, that’s why there still is and if I am to be honest, will always be a stigma on loneliness.
This is going to be a long article, so to assist you in following along, I prepared a content list to help you. Voici!
1.1. Definition of Loneliness
1.2. Violence: An Overview
2. Loneliness and Violence: Challenging the Assumption
2.1. Correlation vs. Causation
2.2. Loneliness as a Risk Factor
3. Causes of Loneliness
3.1. Social Isolation
3.2. Technological Advancements
3.3. Mobility and Urbanization
3.4. Life Transitions
4. Reasons for the Association between Loneliness and Violence
4.1 Mental Health Issues
4.2 Lack of Emotional Regulation
4.3. Negative Coping Mechanisms
4.4. Social Disconnection and Stigmatization
5. Potential Solutions
5.1. Promoting Social Support Networks
5.2. Enhancing Community Engagement
5.3. Education and Awareness
5.4. Mental Health Intervention.
6. Other resources
When I was younger, I always wanted to be around people. This, I think is very common in childhood Children give smiles and love to whomever, wherever. Then I noticed something, some people did not want to be around ME. I puzzled over the matter, could it be because I had not brushed my tongue the night before? I brushed this morning, I blew into my hands to confirm that my breath was as fresh as it could be. Could it be because I didn’t make the bed and put away my toys immediately after I got back from school? I had eventually put it away and no one had gotten hurt. In hindsight, I realized that any friendship between a 5-year-old and a 15-year-old is just babysitting. But at the time, I genuinely thought that they did not like me. And I so very badly wanted them to like me.
1.1 Definition of Loneliness: Loneliness can be defined very simply as involuntary, continuous, never-ending separateness. Nevertheless, please do not use my definitions in a graded essay. It might be too informal. Now for a more formal definition, loneliness is a multifaceted and subjective experience that occurs when an individual perceives a discrepancy between their desired social connection and what it looks like in fact. It is important to distinguish loneliness from solitude, as the latter refers to the deliberate choice of being alone, while loneliness implies an unwanted state of social disconnection.
1.2 Violence: An Overview: Violence is the necessary, more likely unnecessary use of force, in this case, once or various times. I do not like to overcomplicate definitions. A more formal definition of it is that it encompasses a broad range of behaviors intended to cause emotional, physical, mental, or psychological harm to the person themselves or others. It is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including societal, cultural, and individual elements. While the causes of violence are multifaceted, this essay specifically explores the relationship between loneliness and violent behavior.
2. Loneliness and Violence: Challenging the assumption
There is a growing body of research that suggests there is a link between loneliness and violence. Loneliness can lead to a number of negative consequences, including but not limited to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. These negative emotions can make people more likely to act with aggression.
It is quite important to note that not all lonely people are violent. In fact, a majority of lonely people are not violent. The thread between loneliness and violence is multifaceted and there are other immediate factors that can contribute to violence, such as mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and some initial exposure to violence.
Here are some things that can be done to challenge the assumption that loneliness leads to violence:
- Let people know there is a link between loneliness and violence: A lot of people are aware of this already. It’s really common to blame external factors for your actions to avoid being held accountable for them. In fundamental Christian/Muslim patriarchal societies, it’s usual to blame the devil. In other societies, mental health gets the blame. Some people, however, are not aware of the link between loneliness and violence. By educating people about it, we can help to reduce the stigma associated with loneliness and make it more likely that people will seek help if they are feeling lonely.
- Promote empathy: We need to promote compassion and understanding for those who are feeling lonely. By doing so, we can help to create a more supportive environment for those who struggle.
- Include more avenues for social connection: An unexplored way to reduce loneliness is to create more opportunities for social connection. This can be done by joining a club or group, volunteering, or simply spending time with friends and family.
Violence, however, is never the answer. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, there are many resources available to help you. You can talk to a close friend/ family member, or you can seek professional help. There are many community organizations that offer support and resources for people who feel lonely.
It is important to challenge the assumption that loneliness leads to violence. By doing so, we can help to break the cycle of violence and create a more compassionate and inclusive society.
2.1. Correlation vs. Causation
Correlation refers to the relationship between two variables, while causation refers to the idea that one variable causes the other. In the case of loneliness and violence, there is a correlation between both variables. Lonely people are more likely to be violent than people who are not. However, this does not imply causation. It is important to take into account immediate issues like mental health which cause both loneliness and violence. remember that correlation does not equal causation. Just because two variables are correlated does not mean that one causes the other. More research is needed to understand the relationship between loneliness and violence.
2.2. Loneliness as a Risk Factor
Rather than assuming causality, loneliness can be viewed as a risk factor that may amplify preexisting tendencies toward violence. This perspective acknowledges the intricate interaction of multiple factors in the development and prevalence of violent behavior.
Also, loneliness can cause individuals to be more exposed to stress, anxiety, depression and even brain diseases like aneurysms and ischemic strokes, or heart problems.
3. Causes of loneliness
Here are some personal things that I believe might cause or contribute to a greater feeling of loneliness.
3.1. Social Isolation: Social isolation, resulting from factors such as a face to face interactions, strained alliances, or distance, is a significant contributor to loneliness. A person’s inability to establish meaningful connections can make feelings of loneliness worse, potentially leading to negative outcomes.
3.2 Technological Advancements: While the internet has brought us a lot of amazing things, like remote and hybrid work, and artificial intelligence, the evolution of technology also has a downside, it shuts people off from the outside world. There was a story that caught my attention a few days ago. A couple of teenagers were on a bus, the driver had a medical emergency and kept swerving but no one noticed except for one boy who ran up to stop the bus. Parents, teachers, everyone praised the boy and the parents revealed that they had not gotten him a phone yet. That’s why he was self and situationally aware and stopped the bus and helped the driver before a REAL tragedy happened. For everything the advancements in technology have given us, it has also taken things away. Too much reliance on digital interactions may hinder genuine social connections, leading to isolation and disconnection from real-life friendships and relationships.
3.3 Mobility and Urbanization: Urbanization and frequent movement have altered the dynamics of community and neighborhood connections. Increased physical distances, coupled with fast-paced lifestyles, can impede social bonds, thereby increasing the likelihood of loneliness.
3.4 Life Transitions: Transitions, such as relocation, retirement, loss, or relationship changes, can disrupt support systems, making people more susceptible to loneliness. These transitions often coincide with heightened propensity and vulnerability to violence.
4. Reasons for the Association between Loneliness and Violence: I saw an image that stated that loneliness in seniors is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And this isn’t only restricted to elderly people, it affects young people as well. Apart from financial woes, not enough job security, and hyperinflation affecting the young, so many have reached for something else to help them get through the day, whether it be drugs or alcohol.
4.1 Mental Health Issues: It frequently causes mental health issues and in turn makes people violent. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders amplify both the experience of loneliness and the risk of engaging in violent behavior.
4.2 Disordered Emotional Regulation: It can also impair people’s abilities to regulate their emotions effectively. Feelings of social rejection and isolation may intensify negative emotions, making it challenging to respond to stressful situations in a non-violent manner.
4.3 Negative Coping Mechanisms: In the absence of healthy coping mechanisms, individuals experiencing loneliness may turn to maladaptive strategies, including substance abuse which we discussed earlier, or self-harm, which can further contribute to violence.
4.4 Social Disconnection and Stigmatization: Very often, it coincides with detachment and abandonment, which can fuel feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration. These emotions may manifest as violence when individuals struggle to address their social needs in constructive forms.
5. Potential Solutions: Below is a list of preliminary determinations on how to greatly reduce loneliness and promote community engagement.
5.1 Promoting Social Support Networks: Attempts should focus more on building and strengthening social support networks through community-based initiatives, support groups, and mentoring programs. By fostering meaningful connections, individuals experiencing loneliness can find emotional support and reduce their risk of engaging in violent behavior.
5.2 Enhancing Community Commitments: Encouraging community engagement can combat loneliness by creating opportunities for individuals to connect with others who share common interests and experiences. Community centers, recreational activities, and volunteering can foster social interaction and a sense of belonging.
5.3 Education and Awareness: Education and awareness campaigns are essential in combating the stigma associated with loneliness and violence. By promoting empathy, understanding, and destigmatizing mental health issues, society can foster a supportive environment that encourages individuals to seek help when needed.
5.4 Mental Health Intervention: Accessible mental health services, including counseling, therapy, and psychiatric and psychological care, yes, there is a difference, can play a vital role in addressing the underlying psychological factors contributing to loneliness and violence. Integrating mental health support within communities can provide the necessary resources for early intervention and treatment.
6. Other Resources
As I mentioned before, I thought I was a lonely child. Part of that I must admit, was because, in my mind, I did not feel like people liked me so I went on a variety of self-abandoning, people-pleasing actions to get them to like me, love me, respect me. But this is something I wished I had learned before I gave away my gorgeous golden ring, my blazer when I was freezing, lots of money, and my dignity. I didn’t give away my dignity, that is an exaggeration, but it felt like I had given it away, part and parcel to someone who I have not seen for almost nine years. Do you know the funniest thing, I just realized that I have not looked for them or wondered about them in almost as long. Clearly, I just wanted to be liked. It did not matter much by whom. I wanted people to love me.
Sometimes, we try too hard for people to like us, to need us. We climb uphill, adjust ourselves, surrender parts of our personalities to fit a role of perfection, and we do not realize in time, that we do not like them either.Obianuju
I will provide some tips which might not be common but which I heartily ask you to implement.
- Journal: I got into journaling quite early. I loved to write and there was always a story or too many feelings in my head. It was so natural to write. A breach of my diary scared me away from journaling for almost fourteen (14) years. I’m just returning back to it. if you’re not familiar with journaling, this is a good place to start.
- Let your phone rest: As I mentioned earlier, devices and the things that we can access on our devices can make us co-dependent. So many people, from the minute they wake up to the time they fall asleep are always on some form of device. Maybe this advice encourages you to hustle backward, but I think we all should take a break from our phones. Start with a 2-minute break at first, put your phone on airplane mode then increase as you wish.
- Indulge in Silence: This is one of the most controversial. Studies show that silence can help promote mindfulness, peaceful feelings, and even stronger health.
- Explore: What makes you happy? What puts a smile on your face? In what circumstances are you happiest? Explore inside and out. Do things that make YOU happy.
- Listen: To affirmations, to the Bible/Qu’ran if you’re inclined, to books by thought leaders in things that you’re interested in.
- Approve yourself: As Louise Hay mentioned, tell yourself that you approve of yourself about 300 of 400 times a day.
- Short affirmations
While loneliness isn’t inherently causative of violence, it can act as a risk factor that exacerbates preexisting tendencies.
By recognizing the complex causes of loneliness, such as isolation, technological advancements, urbanization, and life transitions, society as a whole or in parts can implement potential solutions. Such as promoting social support networks, enhancing community engagement, raising awareness, and providing mental health intervention can help mitigate the association between loneliness and violence.
Ultimately, fostering compassion, empathy, and understanding is crucial in addressing the root causes and promoting a violence-free society.