The Covid 19 pandemic has spawned another offshoot: loneliness.
It wasn’t that we were not, as a nation, lonely before the virus struck.
In 2017, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called loneliness a public health “epidemic.”
According to a 2018 report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 22 percent of adults in the United States said they often or always felt lonely or socially isolated. By 2019, a national survey led by health insurer Cigna found that 61 percent of Americans reported feeling lonely.
The COVID virus has accelerated both the conditions that contribute to loneliness and our awareness of what it means to be lonely.
The first people noticeably affected were the openly sociable, who clearly demonstrated every day their need for togetherness, like a friend of mine who once confessed to me that when she wanted to take a walk she looked around her neighborhood desperately for someone to walk with her.
Early in the shutdown, a CEO of my acquaintance reported to me that some of her key people, all extroverts, were breaking down and crying every day.
The next group to suffer were introverts, long thought of as pursuing loneliness and therefore unaffected by the shutdown. As an introvert myself who has become an expert on introversion, I can attest to the fact that this is pure myth. We are human beings, and as such, we need human connection – just not as much as an extrovert, and in smaller doses of one-on-one meetings.
We often like to go to public spaces where there is life swirling around us, such as a coffee shop, and sit there contently sipping our drinks, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Those activities have almost disappeared from our daily lives, and we feel it.
Finally, there are those who have spent much of the pandemic holed up with their loved ones. This can increase togetherness. Sometimes this is exasperating but doable; sometimes it increases rifts that need to be worked on. Sometimes it emphasizes the fact that the partner one has found tolerable during non-working hours does not meet our deepest needs for connection.
But there we are, closeted with that person, with little opportunity to buffer that relationship with other contacts, much less meet and connect with someone more to our liking.
I can personally attest there is nothing lonelier than being in a relationship, sometimes even a whole family group, where you suddenly realize no one there knows your core being, your secret dreams, your values, and they probably wouldn’t accept them if they did.
I know that last example well: I have been there. The stunning realization that I was alone in the middle of a noisy crowd that rejected everything I really was did not, at that time, stir me to action. I was in a BTN (better than nothing) relationship; as one person remarked, “At least you’re sure of a date for New Year’s Eve.” Another friend hastily married an unsuitable partner after her husband died, justifying her decision with, “I don’t ever want to be called a widow.”
Really? Is that what life is about?
“Belongingness” is a very basic human need, right above oxygen, water, shelter, and food. In cultures where shunning of a person deemed guilty is a punishment, it can be so effective that the person often dies from no physical cause except the experience of being cut off from all human contact.
The good news is that science, in the form of neuropsychology and quantum physics, has now established that we are all, in fact, connected in the Matrix of the Field. No, it’s not a quack theory or the title of a movie; it is pure scientific fact.
We can learn to connect with this Field and to everyone in it through simple heart-based breathing techniques. When we can do that, we not only feel connected but we attract to ourselves others who can connect – at first, just energetically, but later, as we emerge from our Covid caves, we have a far greater possibility of connecting on the material level with like-hearted people.
Theoretically, we don’t ever have to feel alone. How do we achieve that happy state? What keeps us from realizing we are all connected?
That’s why I’m launching Sunday Evening Connections:
An upcoming ongoing weekly forum for exploring the mysteries of human-to-human relationships within ourselves, with those around us, and with those we have yet to meet.
Join me for a virtual exploration of what the cutting edge sciences of neuropsychology and quantum physics have to offer us in terms of fulfilling one of our deepest needs: belongingness.
Lynette Crane is an internationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, coach, and author of The Confident Introvert and Quiet Brilliance: Solving Corporate America’s Leadership Crisis with Hiding in Plain Sight Talent.
She was a pioneer in stress management over 40 years ago, having created a college course and corporate training programs, for which she wrote the book. Over the past 40 years she has helped countless people manage their stress successfully.
Now she has amplified the power of her programs with certification as a trainer and coach/mentor from HeartMath Institute™, which has produced over 30 years of research, based on neuropsychology and quantum physics, on the power of the heart-brain connection in helping us manage the stress of our emotional lives effectively.