The Hidden Shame of Loneliness

The PathNorth mission statement states: “The very nature of modern leadership life tends to isolate and disconnect, often leading to unintended consequences.” For sure, we are a lonely society. According to the U.S. Loneliness Index Report, a survey of 20,000 adults, over half self-reported they are lonely, irrespective of gender, race or financial station. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy named not smoking nor obesity, rather loneliness as the health crisis of our time. I suspect that the opioid crisis as well as the sharp spike up in suicide correlates with this sense of disconnection. Loneliness is like a hydra with many heads. A recent survey in England offers that one of every four women ages 16-24 have harmed themselves. See a connection here? And it goes on and on.

So where does this all stem from? Surely social media, affluence, time pressures and societal expectations, to name just a few, all conspire to leave us feeling left out and alone. I would also offer the observation that physical brokenness is far easier to detect and discuss than the ‘hidden shame’ of loneliness. After all, we are the ‘rugged individualists of American mythology’. Moreover, we simply have no language to discuss such an important matter. Therefore, we suffer in silence with our emotional pain. We fill the void drinking, drugging, eating, shopping and with other addictive behaviors.

We created PathNorth with the intent to create a community of people who risk talking about what is most important. After all, we are more alike than different. Even though we often believe we are the only ones who has felt this existential angst.

One remedy for all of this is to reach out to someone. Risking it and sharing your feelings. You might be surprised. We all have felt ‘lost’ at times. I surely have. Join a group and learn to share with one another, savoring (enjoying?) the rich experience derived from such an association.

In the Pentateuch, the writer declared 3,000 years ago, ‘it’s not good for a man [human] to be alone.’ We were created for community. Life is short, reach out and begin to experience the wonder of genuine connection. You might be surprised at the fulfillment it brings.

Below are two brief articles on this subject: