Being alone is healthy and restorative. However, if we take this enjoyment to the extreme, later reestablishing interactions will become more difficult, since in this distancing we may have burned some of the bridges that united us with the people with whom we had the most trust.
When you think of a perfect plan, is nothing more appealing than staying home alone with a good book? Are you one of those who love, enjoy and treasure their loneliness as a valuable gift? This is completely valid and understandable since each person's level of sociability and extraversion are different. However, it is important that you watch this pattern and take care that it does not become excessive, because isolating ourselves makes us increasingly lonely.
There are many reasons that can lead a person to isolate themselves from others, some of them are voluntary and others not so much. In any case, solitude can be such a safe place, such a pleasant refuge, that the tendency to isolation can grow without our realizing it . And this is dangerous as meaningful social relationships are essential for proper physical and mental functioning.
Isolation and loneliness
First, you need to be clear about the difference between various concepts. Isolation consists of being physically or emotionally separated from others, it implies not being in contact, not being connected to others . This is something that we often do by choice. People introverts tend to isolate themselves for short periods of time to recharge the energy they have spent socializing, and this will benefit greatly.
However, all people need certain isolation spaces at certain times in our lives. After an argument, in the face of the loss of a loved one, or when we are faced with an important decision, we tend to withdraw into ourselves to calm and quiet the mind, reorder our ideas and think more clearly .
For its part, loneliness refers to a subjective, distressing and unpleasant feeling of not having anyone to count on . We experience loneliness when we feel that nobody understands us, that nobody cares about our well-being. In short, when we do not have the social and emotional support we need available.
So we can be isolated without feeling alone . In the same way, we can suffer the weight of loneliness while we are surrounded by people.
How does isolating ourselves make us increasingly lonely?
However, even if they are different concepts, certain studies have found that both feed into each other. In other words: isolating ourselves makes us increasingly lonely. This happens for several reasons :
- If you suffer from a certain degree of social phobia , isolating yourself allows you to avoid feared situations and avoid the anxiety they cause you. However, avoidance is the main reason why phobias are perpetuated and remain over time . If you do not expose yourself to the anxiety stimulus, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to verify that it really is not as terrible as you thought and that, finally, you could handle it. Isolating yourself increases fear.
- The human organism has a great capacity for adaptation and if we isolate ourselves, we will get used to this way of life. This not only means that we will find it less and less uncomfortable and more pleasant to be alone, but also that we may lose part of our social skills . Thus, when we go to face the social world after a long time in isolation, we will not only perceive it as more dangerous , negative and threatening, but we will also be more socially awkward and we will get less satisfactory interactions. A panorama that will only lead us to want to isolate ourselves again.
- Social relationships must be cultivated and cared for so that they are maintained. If we get used to being excessively isolated, if we neglect the connection with our loved ones, it can deteriorate . In this way, when we want to return to social life, we find that we have burned the easier roads.
Find a balance
Severe and prolonged loneliness can cause serious damage to our physical and psychological health , and it is one of the main risk factors in many mental disorders. So whether you're an introvert or going through a period of voluntary isolation for any other reason, try to be balanced.
Being alone is healthy and restorative, but in good measure . If you detect that you begin to perceive the social world as threatening or negative, if you feel that your relationships are being harmed, do not let the situation progress. Taking care of yourself is also taking care of your human connections.
Are you lonely? Your brain is special
A study indicates that people who prefer to be alone see things differently and have different power of decision or analysis than others. On the other hand, lonely people have less activity in the area of the brain related to the reward system. It is not yet known which comes first: the isolation or the change in activation. Do you consider yourself lonely?
A loner can be by choice or because of others . In other words, someone may say that they feel better if they spend most of their time away from the company of others, or they may not find someone to spend their hours with despite not wanting to do so. In one way or another, the brain of lonely people has a lot to do with it.
"The lonely man is a beast or a god" -Aristotle-
The rewards and the lonely brain
According to the report in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, the region of the brain called the " striatum " is less active in people who are lonely. This zone is associated with certain daily rewards, such as money and food.
To reach this conclusion, 23 female university students were grouped together and asked a series of questions to discriminate to what degree they felt socially isolated, to what degree they were lonely people, and to what degree they enjoyed and sought social contact .
Their brains were then scanned while looking at pictures of happy people. Thus, they found that in those female students who did not have an intense social life, the “reward” area was less illuminated , a sign of less activation.
As the sample taken for the study was small and very restricted in terms of the variability of certain parameters, such as age, dedication or gender, the authors asked in the conclusions of the study itself that these be interpreted with the prudence that the error of the study determined .
"The truth is, you see, that the most powerful man in the world is the man who remains the loneliest" -Henrik Ibsen-
The scientists in charge of the experiment handled the following hypothesis: in a lonely person, being less dependent on society , the rewards related to this context do not arouse great enthusiasm.
Loneliness, introversion and perception
Not many studies have yet been carried out to have well defined the cerebral characteristics of those who prefer solitude . However, despite the fact that the literature in this field is not extensive, curious results have been found.
For example, it has been shown that there is a close relationship between introversion, creativity and originality. In turn, it is surprising that lonely people enjoy greater enjoyment or satisfaction in obtaining results from their “mental efforts”.
According to the psychologist of the National Institute of Health in Maryland , Amanda Guyer, socially withdrawn people have greater sensitivity to sensory and emotional interactions. This would mean that what happens in this context of interaction affects them more.
To arrive at this theory, the researcher designed a study with two groups of children: some reserved and others not. Everyone had to participate in a game where by pressing a button they won money. The retracted had up to three times more brain activity - striated region - than members of the other group.
Your brain is more active in social contact situations
One of the situations that lonely people must go through is seeing themselves in the middle of a meeting, party or event that involves being close to other people. At these times, certain areas of the brain noticeably increase blood flow, experiencing a kind of over-excitement. This could be one of the reasons why shy people don't like to socialize.
"They say that I am a hero, I am weak, shy, almost insignificant, if being who I am I did what I did, imagine what all of you can do together" -Mahatma Gandhi-
However, it is not all bad news. Studies suggest that an introvert's brain has the ability to adapt to various experiences thanks to its additional sensitivity . Because of this, for example, they can respond faster at times when there may be high social demand, such as in certain states of emergency.
Finally, it said that the timid are good to perceive the subtleties and details that others ignore. For this reason they are usually good writers, painters or witnesses since their brain disposes them for it. In fact, genius, apart from a certain degree of madness, is associated with loneliness.