Why being lonely isn't the same as being alone

Being alone is often a choice, explains behavioural psychologist Dr Helgo Schomer.

Dr Schomer says that individuals choose to be with their own company, and physically distance themselves from people to think, reflect and get a sense of everything.

So many people in the world are lonely. That's a very big difference from choosing to be alone.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Loneliness, on the other hand, describes a feeling of involuntary social isolation and being "cut off" from the world, he explains.

Loneliness is very different. It's a state in which you feel yourself being painfully isolated.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Dr Schomer says some personality types have predispositions to loneliness.

He says loneliness is likely to increase for individuals with the following characteristics:

  • people with a cynical view of nature
  • people who demand too much too soon
  • people with general pessimism towards life
  • people with high internal self-criticism

Psychologist Khosi Jiyane called in to contribute, explaining that loneliness is not reliant on the physical presence of others.

Loneliness has got nothing or very little to do with another persons presence or absence.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Loneliness will visit all of us in life, at one stage or another.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Dr Schomer also shared advice on how some people can overcome loneliness.

Take a listen to his expert advice:


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