Loneliness is like walking through the world and nobody making eye contact.

You can find yourself wondering if it’s that you’re not worthy of even a momentary smile or if you are simply invisible.

In a room full of friends, still nobody sees you but you don’t know why.

Image courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo

Much of the research carried out on loneliness looks at older generations and the pretty devastating effect that it can have. However it is becoming more noticeable that it does in fact affect people of all ages.

A poll conducted by AXA PPPHealthcare discovered that almost one in four 18 to 24 year olds claimed to have no one to talk to, while 27 per cent admitted to feeling lonely most of the time.

Loneliness can be a result of social isolation due to age, illness, unemployment or family circumstances but can also occur in those that feel isolated, even when surrounded by people. Feelings of insecurity, not being needed, wanted or understood can cause immense sadness and loneliness. Perceived loneliness is the discrepancy between the preferred and actual social relationships and both PSI (perceived social isolation) and actual isolation have shown to have similar detrimental effects on health.

Loneliness has been linked with depression, cognitive decline, stroke, heart disease, increase in the use of accident and emergency services and suicide. Studies show that individuals lacking social connections are at higher risk for premature mortality. Holt-Lunstad 2015

Loneliness can creep up on an individual at any moment in life. Moving house, change of career, change of school, bullying, illness or life stress are just a few of the many potential causes.

Image courtesy of Joshua Earle

If loneliness touches you, it’s essential to take action as soon as possible. Automatic limiting beliefs may knock your confidence because you remember it being easy when you were young, but now it’s different. Now you have a history, you have baggage, doubts, questions, fear.

Do you really need friends? Is it really worth the risk or effort?

If you are dealing with loneliness it means that you’re yet to find your tribe.

Your tribe, the people that share your values, are in this world and if they’re not by your side, cheering you on, you need to go out and find them. Maybe, just maybe, they’re also wandering through the world and wondering why nobody makes eye contact.

It is the people around us that ground us to the world. Those connections give meaning and purpose. They can reignite your spark, remind you of your worth, notice your sadness or help give you reason to laugh.

The best bit is the moment they say those glorious words…”Really? You too? I thought that it was just me!”

Your tribe doesn’t need to have the same beliefs as you but sharing the same values gives the most solid foundation.

A Christian and an atheist, who have very different beliefs can still be the greatest of friends when their values are aligned.

Your mission now, is to discover where those people, the ones who share your values, will be waiting. Humanity, challenge, creativity, wisdom, fitness, faith.

What are your values?

Where might you find people who share them?

If you value the outdoors, find and cultivate a tribe that shares that value. Start an adventure that takes you back packing, rambling, mountain biking, rafting, quad biking or mountain climbing. Search out your people, maybe they will be relieved to see you.

If you find yourself struggling to work through limiting beliefs, anxiety or other difficulties, having someone to talk to can really help to step you forwards. www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk is a website that allows you to find a counsellor in your area which might b the perfect stepping stone.

If you are ready to start the search for your tribe of friends begin now! Research clubs, volunteer opportunities and community events that align with your values, take a deep breath and then take that first step.

I would love to know how you got on or if you feel affected by loneliness. Email me directly [email protected] or leave a comment.

Know your worth. Find your tribe.

Originally published at www.imustnow.com on April 11, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com