Love And Compassion As A Cure For Loneliness

Love and compassion are essential in human life, as it is shown everywhere around us, if we take that away, humanity cannot survive without them. Love and compassion are such fundamental qualities, that animals, who have lesser cognitive abilities than us humans, possess. Animals would care for their own species and offspring no matter what, and that is nothing but an example of love and compassion at play.

The same could be said about human life, even before our existence, love and compassion have been the fundamental factor that contributes to our well-being. When a mother carries a baby in her womb, she is providing it with everything it needs to grow and develop. When the baby is born, they are completely dependent on their parents, therefore, the love and care from their parents is essential for their survival.

But why are love and compassion so important? Without these important qualities, people will feel left out, isolated, abandoned and lonely. These negative emotions can be a downward spiral of a person’s life. As humans, we need love and compassion in our personal lives, we were never meant to be alone because during the early years of humanity, we, as hunter and gatherers needed to travel as a group, as having friends, meant survival, and being alone, meant death. The constant need to change oneself according to other people’s expectations is a direct result of this, the inability to do so would make a person feel lonely, and fearing death once they have been excluded from a group.

One may argue that being lonely and being alone are the same thing, they are not, they mean completely different things. When a person is alone, they are by themselves, and they might enjoy being by themselves rather than being with friends, however, when a person is lonely, they feel abandonment and sadness due to isolation. Feeling lonely from time to time is normal, but a problem has risen, because in the last two decades, the occasional feeling of loneliness has become chronic for many, in the UK, 60% of 18-34 year olds said that they often felt lonely. In the US, 46% of the entire population feels lonely regularly. Even though the world currently exists in its most technologically advanced time period, and society is at its most connected it has ever been, it is surprising that a large number of us feel isolated.

There’s a stereotypical thought that lonely people don’t know how to communicate and socialise, however, a study released about the general public has shown that social skills make practically no difference in adults and their social connections. No amount of power, money, beauty and social skills can protect someone from loneliness.

Large scale studies have shown that the stress that comes with chronic loneliness is one of the unhealthiest things we can experience as a human, it makes you age faster, encourages cancer growth, makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advance faster and can result in immunodeficiency. Studies show that loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity and about as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Your brain identifies loneliness as social pain, and it treats social pain the same as it treats physical pain. It causes a person to become closed off and preservative. It is when loneliness becomes self-sustaining that we should worry, our brains are much more receptive and alert to social signals, be it friendly, neutral or hostile, our brains would, in this case, interpret fairly neutral actions as having hostile intentions. Self-sustaining loneliness can cause our brains to pay more attention to other people’s actions, understanding them less. The PSTS (posterior superior temporal lobe), the part of your brain that recognises facial expressions gets out of tune and starts warping neutral expressions into expressions of hostility. This repeated action can lead to depression, and other related mental illnesses, and therefore, a more emotionally closed off individual.

The qualities, love and compassion can prevent people from falling into the endless loop of loneliness. Preventing someone from chronic loneliness can stop a lot of other significant problems associated with it. When someone is subjected to chronic loneliness, the problems it causes can be life threatening. This is all the more reason to help people suffering from loneliness. Through the means of love and compassion, we can help the people in need, increase their well-being, we are a race, the human race, and we should be supporting each other when we need it.

10 October 2020
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