The Loneliness Problem

 

If we took a survey of HSPs, how many would say they are lonely?  Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Being alone and enjoying it come from our full engagement with life.  Loneliness is something else.

Loneliness often feels like we have been graded and found wanting.  It feels like a suffocating prison to which we do not hold the key. When we experience loneliness, we often experience it as a form of rejection. Sometimes it feels like we are in a different place from everyone else, and so we feel the loneliness of our difference. Our inability to find or share common ground can give rise to feelings of loneliness.

Being a highly sensitive person inevitably invites lonely feelings just because of who we are.  Because we perceive and experience differently, we are often at a disadvantage in our relationships. On an interpersonal basis sharing differences in perception and experience is not so difficult.  The greater difficulty comes from not really sharing the language of the competitive culture; our basis for interpersonal exchange is not there. The sensitivities and values difference that come from holistic perceptions and living from energetic experience are hard to integrate into an us vs. them culture.

Highly sensitive people have much to give in a world that often does not want what we have to offer. Our hearts are so big but they are often big by themselves. It can feel like you are out on a limb in a world that wants to chop it down at any moment. Very risky! Yet you cannot do otherwise because you would then be betraying yourself.  So you, therefore, carry the torch even if no one can see it, even when you feel foolish, hoping that at some point the world will stop long enough to see that there is no them and that then you will not be lonely anymore.

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Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.

28 thoughts on “The Loneliness Problem”

  1. Avatar aron says:

    I’m a HSP male in my 30s now. I’ve always felt lonely, even though i’m ‘popular’. But as i’ve aged the lonely feelings have gnawed away at me with more intensity. I’m single, so that’s part of the issue. I’m an attractive guy, but it’s the feelings of being different and others not understanding you once they get past the looks novelty. I’m often seen as ‘weird’. ‘high maintenance’ ‘strange’, too intense’ etc. I really believe that HSPs have a deep intense need for human connection on a deep emotional, mental and physical level, with some one who gets them.I always go to sleep dreaming that someone would hold me and i can hear there heart beat or stroke there hair. I’m scared that this will get harder to find as i age.

    1. Avatar Maria says:

      Hi Aron,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your concerns. I agree with your assessment of the needs of highly sensitive people and that most of us experience extreme loneliness. If you are settled where you are, I would suggest creating a social group for highly sensitive people and see if that brings that special someone into your life.

      Let me know how it goes,
      Maria

    2. Avatar Stephanie says:

      I’m in the same boat Aron. 🙁 I do have friends and a ton of acquaintances, however still feel the loneliness. The hardest for me is that I don’t feel like my own parents get me or ever really will. I’m tired of feeling like a black sheep. For my whole life I feel like the things I’ve longed for most is true connection, to feel understood and to feel like I actually fit in. I recently left my husband of over 10 years – we got along great, but never really had that true, deep connection I desire and I’m now hoping to find these things with friends and a partner. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I am an HSP and also INFJ which put a lot into perspective. While learning this hasn’t eliminated the struggle, it’s nice to know that i’m NOT weird and also not alone. Sighhh to heart beats and hair stroking…. *hugs*

      Maria! Just have to say thank you for existing and helping to bring awareness to HSP’s! I look forward to reading your book!

      1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

        Stephanie,

        The challenge of finding people we connect with is a big one. I am glad that you are enjoying the information on the website and I think you will find more that helps you in the book.

        All the best,
        Maria

    3. Avatar Mary says:

      I am now 50, and have felt like this all my life. While I was never really popular, I was pretty, so people accepted me (which is awful itself). I hope you find someone to hold you.

      1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

        Thanks for your good wishes and your insights. We sensitive people are fortunately starting to work on the disconnection problem. You are welcome anytime and we have a Facebook group if you feel like joining.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/158999967969987/

        All the best,
        Maria

  2. Avatar puneet says:

    I’dloveto be a part of a sensitives group.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Thanks for stopping by. There are a number of them on Facebook that you could check out. If you want to sign up for our newsletter, we will be adding more community oriented features in the future.

      All the best,
      Maria

  3. Avatar Kim Quick says:

    I am 60 yrs old, an HSP, and very healthy, retired with lots of free time. Would like to volunteer somewhere with helping people where I will not get overstimulated. Interested in working with the poor

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Hi Kim,

      I love your idea of helping people especially the poor. There are so many wonderful organizations that do that. I would suggest that you make a list of yur requirements: location, age group etc. and see if you can locate a group that fits. There are some websites that rank charities based on quality and that could help you decide. Let me know how it goes!

      All the best,
      Maria

  4. Avatar Jacquelyn says:

    It saddens me that so many HSPs wrestle with on-going feelings of loneliness. Yes, I have certainly wrestled with these feelings myself on many occasions. Here are just a couple of questions we will be pondering at the HSP Gathering Retreats this year: “What if loneliness was a longing for your Authentic Self (HSP or otherwise) to be engaged and inspired? How would you / could you respond to this? ”
    with love and hope,
    Jacquelyn

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Hi Jacquelyn,

      I think whenever we wrestle with these feelings there is something to be learned. And yes we may yearn for our authentic self but also for a way to express it in the world that gives the feelings of satisfaction we are seeking.

      Maria

  5. Avatar Jacquelyn says:

    Yes, Maria, I agree… expressing our Authentic Self in the world in a way that fulfills us is not an easy task…. Yet, before we can find this type of satisfaction, I think we must first find this Authentic Self, nurture him / her with self-knowledge, self-compassion, self-love and healing …. and lovingly practice this type of expression inwardly first. I think we can then find the courage to outwardly express this Self, and then we can and do find our expression of this Self fulfilling … Brene Brown’s work in Daring Greatly and Rising Strong are great resources for this type of work … as are the HSP Gatherings, if I may so proudly insert a “plug” for them 🙂 With gratitude for you new book, and the work you do in the world Maria !

  6. Avatar Lisa says:

    Great article! I like and agree with your differentiation between being lonely and being alone. So true. I find myself feeling lonely quite often, especially now that my kids are grown. I have often wondered how or why I am lonely b/c I live with someone and also because I cherish my alone time. I think you are correct that it comes from not having the deep, authentic connection with another. For me personally, it is also comes from the overstimulation us HSP’s get from going out and/or being around crowds of people. I also get overwhelmed in smaller, more intimate groups of people as well because I pick up on people’s games, ego’s and untruths. It’s gotton worse the older I get, almost to the point where it’ borders on social anxiety. It is truly sad b/c we have so much love, empatny and understanding to offer. Thank you again for what you have shared, it actually helps the loneliness just by understanding it.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Hi Lisa, I am glad that I have helped. I think you make a good point about loneliness and people’s games and egos. I think we have to become very selective about who we are with in order to not make our loneliness worse.

      Maria

  7. Avatar Nin says:

    Aron, I’m like you.

    I think a huge part of loneliness for me comes from being misunderstood and treated (spoken and dealt) with like I’m ‘normal’. I feel too fragile for the inhabitants of this world. This isn’t about lack of self love. Anyone who came to my home would see and feel it with their own eyes; how self loving I am. Something I learnt over the years. There’s just no one here where I am, that bothers to understand me. I can’t go to anyone with any problems, challenges and fears that I have because I make them uneasy. Yet, I am always sought by others. Even strangers. Beauty has been a curse mostly for me, and so has being a HSP.

    I have read, listened and introspected but what’s the point when I’m the only one interested in understanding myself and people close to me aren’t.
    I’m tired of getting to know people, men especially since I do want to spend the rest of my life alone, as they are more intrigued by what they see then I, the person. I give. They take. And when they find me too intense, or I find them ‘shallow’, departure happens.

    I haven’t met anyone here (I live in Asia) who is interested at getting to know me a HSP while I understand deeply easily. It doesn’t help that I’m psychic and an Empath.

    The world overwhelms with nothing and everything.
    Many days, I wish that I could disappear into thin air.
    I think the wind shall understand me. x

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Thanks, Nin for stopping by. I am glad that the article resonated with you. I think you have several options. One is to try to connect with people who are healers who may be like you. The other is to give some thought to what matters most to you in this world and what you would like to see and become a part of making that happen. If we rely too much on relationships for happiness we can be disappointed since the world is so difficult and many people in trying to survive can not see all that we are. I hope this helps.

      All the best,
      Maria Hill

  8. Avatar Nin says:

    Thanks Maria for your prompt reply and advice.
    I have been doing healing and guidance work since late 2014. I am a painter by profession and I lead a very isolated life. Sometimes, I believe it works for me as I feel too fragile for most people. Dishonesty, knowing people’s real intentions, and even people whom I consider friends not valuing or making time to nurture friendships, has made me feeling tired. I don’t live in a country where there are meet ups of people of particular interests.
    I am a crossroad in my life at the moment. I have no idea what my options are. At the moment, I can’t think of what I’d like to do for this world as I’m lost as to what to do with my own self. When I did make myself available for the better of this world, this world seemed to have just taken from me.
    I’m just not in a very good place right now within.
    I feel overwhelmed and most of my real friends all live abroad. I’m even tired of confiding with them. I have only one friend who thinks about me even after our chat ends. With the rest, life goes on once chat is over. How I wish what I offered to people, I could be offered in return even if it was only 30%, not because I am calculative, but because I need a small support group which I don’t have.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Nin,

      Being sensitive can be very challenging when you do not have support around you. I suggest that you take a look at some of the online groups which I think could help you a lot. There are a number of highly sensitive groups on Facebook. There is also an international group called HSP in Business. This is their link..

      Just being able to talk to others like yourself will help. Good luck!

      Maria
      .

  9. Avatar Nin says:

    Thanks Maria. I have joined them all before this post. Some are still pending approvals. I’m also on pages. I read and read about being a HSP but it doesn’t help much as I am physically alone. There’s nothing like a having another person sitting across you who understands.
    Thanks for your help anyway.
    Take care Maria.

  10. Avatar Loreta says:

    Yes me too I feel lonely sometimes. I like to go to a place to meet the same people as me that understand each other.

  11. Avatar Aron says:

    Hi

    I just wanted input from the rest of you guys and girls-do you find that Highly sensitive traits/people are an easy target for bullies? I find aggressive/domineering highly stressed people with power eg in boss/employer or teacher/pupil situations, seem to target HSP’s as punch bags. It’s difficult to put a ‘shield’ up as we are so emotionally reactive and have ‘no skin’.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      I think that the non-aggressive nature of sensitive people can make us seem like easy targets. I think it is best to get out of those environments or find ways to interact as little as possible.

      All the best,
      Maria

  12. Avatar Hilary says:

    Yes, I think HSPs are ‘targets’ and unfortunately a bullying culture seems to be even more the norm now than in the past in some ways.

    Thank you for such a well expressed article about loneliness, and for everyone’s comments which I really related to. This is such a crucial topic for us. I agree that we cannot rely too much on relationships for our happiness in a culture that we don’t fully fit into and that doens’t understand us yet. After feeling too much pain about this for far too long, I now try to make myself happy in other ways, and any relationship that works (even for just a while) is an added bonus. That doesn’t mean I neglect developing relationship skills, nor opt out of developing friendships, but just that I don’t get as sad when things don’t work. And I don’t blame myself as much. Still working on all this though – it’s really challenging!

    The more places we have, like this SE forum, for ourselves, the better we (and the rest of the world) will be. When we have more support for us, we can contribute more of our valuable HSP gifts.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Hi Hilary,

      What a great solution! It makes total sense especially given how our culture is right now to not make your happiness about your relationships. Relationships can be transitory and I like how you think of it as a bonus. It sounds like you have mastered this. Congratulations!

      Maria

  13. Avatar Summer says:

    I greatly appreciate this blog and reading down through the comments; I am comforted. Thank you all for being so raw and for sharing. As I read each person’s comment, I felt a little of myself in each story. I really needed this today. Thank you.

    Summer

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Thanks for your comments, Summer. I am glad that you enjoyed the article. You are not alone.

      All the best,
      Maria

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