Living Alone Can Kill YouBy Dr. Margaret Paul
September 10, 2012
Loneliness is a huge problem in our society. It doesn't have to be this way.
A study "followed nearly 45,000 people ages 45 and up who had heart disease or a high risk of developing the condition. Those who lived alone, the study found, were more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes, or other heart complications over a four-year period than people living with family or friends, or in some other communal arrangement." http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/18/health/mental-health/loneliness-isolation-health/index.html
In his best-selling book, "Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell opens with a study done in a small Pennsylvania town called Roseto, where people never die of heart attacks – due to the closeness and connections within their community.
Some researchers, such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of "The Biology of Belief," State that 90% of illness is stress-related. Loneliness is a huge stress. We are social beings – not meant to live alone. Yet our society is geared to create loneliness rather than connection and community.
While loneliness is a huge stress, there are also many challenges when it comes to living with others. Here is what I often hear from my clients:
"I'd rather live alone than live with a controlling person. And I can't find anyone who is not needy and controlling."
"Every time I get into a relationship, I end up feeling hurt in one way or another. This seems more stressful to me than living alone."
"The pain of loss is too great. I'd rather not risk it."
"I do fine alone, but as soon as I'm in a relationship, I give myself up."
"Relationships are too hard and stressful. I'd rather be alone."
What's The Answer?
Living alone and being lonely is stressful, and often living with someone else is stressful.
The answer lies in being open to learning about loving yourself. If it is more loving to yourself and much less stressful for you to be alone, and loneliness is not a huge issue for you, then living alone may be in your highest good. But if loneliness is painful for you, then being open to learning about how to take loving care of yourself within relationships is likely what is loving to you.
Relationships offer an incredible arena for personal and spiritual growth. They trigger every unresolved and unhealed issue – fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of engulfment, fear of conflict, fear of intimacy. This is why relationships are stressful – they challenge us to deal with our deepest fears. And, in accepting this challenge, we learn and grow.
However, many people are just as lonely in a relationship as in being alone - if not even more so. When people choose to protect against their fears rather than learn from them, and when they choose to try to control others rather than learn to be loving to themselves and others, it can be very lonely for both partners.
In the town of Roseto, mentioned above, the one thing that creates the lack of heart attacks is CARING. In Roseto, the people care about each other. They look out for each other. They support each other and take care of those who need caregiving. They accept each other.
They don't have heart attacks because they feel safe, and the sense of safety takes away the stress that causes illness. They know that they will never be on the streets starving. They know they will never be ill and left alone to fend for themselves. They have each others' backs.
What would you give to know that the people around you and in your community have your back? And that you have theirs.
This caring about each other is what is missing in much of our society, both within our primary relationships and within our communities. Without this caring, we don't feel safe. Even if we are good at taking care of ourselves, we still need to know that we are not alone – that others care enough to be there for us when we have the need.
How can we move toward creating caring communities? By being willing to do our own Inner Bonding work so that we can open our hearts to each other.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.
Photo by Zack Minor
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