Do you sometimes feel that you have no one to talk to? Do you ever find yourself wearing a smile to mask inward pain—craving to talk, but finding no one there to listen? If so, you are not alone. In an age abounding with technological connections, an alarming number of people don’t have anyone they can really talk to. In early 2019, the New York Post reported on a study revealing just that: “One in four people don’t feel they have someone to confide in, according to new research. Even after sharing their feelings, seven in 10 have held back how they really felt from a coworker, friend, or partner. A study of 2,000 Americans examined how daily stressors can affect mental health and what prevents people from seeking out therapy and additional help” (“1 in 4 Americans feel they have no one to confide in,” April 30, 2019).
We all need someone to talk to and confide in. And maybe the fact that more and more people are feeling disconnected from others is a symptom of the times in which we’re living. Jesus said that in the last days “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). Are you feeling lonely and isolated? If you are, take heart—you don’t have to go it alone.
How can we be so sure? Because there is a source of light and love that supersedes any darkness this world can bring. There is a sovereign Being who created all mankind, and we are His children. He cares for you, and He can help you. He gives advice on how to face depression, loneliness, and isolation, something especially needed in today’s increasingly fragmented world.
So, what can we do to combat the feeling of having no one to really talk to? Consider these steps to combat loneliness and build deep connections.
The God who created us also created family. He designed families to form the most basic building block of society—and to provide emotional support when we need it most. Yet many families today have become fragmented and disconnected. If that describes your family, think about what relationships you can repair and strengthen. Consider family members with whom you may be losing touch—perhaps parents, children, or siblings—and do your best to connect with them. Reach out. Seek reconciliation, if necessary. Forgive. Invest in family. You may be surprised at the results of reaching out to your own flesh and blood.
What if your family is filled with strife and anger? Sometimes family relationships are complicated or strained. Some are damaged beyond repair. In some cases, physical distances separate us from our closest relatives. What then? The book of Proverbs says, “Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” (Proverbs 27:10). Are there friends in your life from whom you have drifted away? When was the last time you called someone—or even sent a letter, card, or e-mail—just to let the person know he or she was on your mind? Our world is filled with distractions that are pulling us away from really investing in friendships. Maybe it’s time to identify one or two friendships you would like to reinvest in—and then make it happen.
As we reach out to friends and family, we shouldn’t neglect to consider our spiritual family—those who are seeking to live by God’s word, just as we are. God did not intend us to live in isolation. In the book of Hebrews, Paul warned that as the end times draw near, faithful Christians should not abandon assembling with others (Hebrews 10:25). It’s not enough to be studying and learning by ourselves—we also need to spend time with others who are striving to live the Christian life!
And Jesus Christ told His disciples to behave toward others just as we’d want others to behave toward us (Matthew 7:12). If we want our emotional tank to be filled, are we seeking out others who need support as well? Surely, we know of people who are in pain and hurting, feeling alone. One of the best ways for us to find inner peace and closeness in relationships is to reach out and serve others who need it.
In seeking to connect with other people, sometimes pride or fear holds us back from confiding in others and “letting down the walls.” Maybe we fear others will think less of us if they know our vulnerabilities and insecurities. We might be afraid of embarrassment or rejection. The New York Post noted, “The results revealed that nine in 10 people admit to downplaying their emotions so they won’t worry or burden a loved one…. One in four [respondents] didn’t think their troubles were ‘serious enough’ to warrant talking to someone.”
If our loneliness is causing us mental anguish or even physical ailments, is it truly realistic to say, “It’s not a big deal”? When something is eating us up inside, is it worth keeping it hidden to avoid “burdening” someone else? Maybe it’s time to let down the walls and admit to someone we trust what’s really weighing on us. Needing support is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign we are part of the human family.
We should also consider our relationship to technology. Heavy use of social media can be a façade that masks loneliness without truly alleviating it. When the first social media outlets were unveiled, they promised to create a whole new realm of human connections. Yet the sad reality is that too many now struggle with an addiction to social media, and there is growing evidence of a connection with depression. The conclusion of a University of Arizona study on smartphone use stated, “The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms” (“Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?,” University of Arizona, September 30, 2019).
Human beings were designed to need face-to-face contact. If you are struggling with feeling alone in your relationships, you may need to put down the phone, reach out to someone you care about, and have an “unplugged” conversation. Meet over coffee or a sandwich. Look them in the eye and really talk. Let them know about what’s going on in your real life—not what you show on Facebook or Instagram.
What if you’re not into social media, but have immersed yourself in online gaming? Or even just keeping busy with an endless cycle of work, entertainment, or both? The same applies. Why not take a break from virtual reality, or ceaseless activity, or distractions, and try stepping into the real world of human, dynamic relationships in a way you never have before? You may be pleasantly surprised at how friendships flourish and develop.
Most importantly, consider your relationship with your Creator. Even many people who believe in God have only a superficial relationship with Him. What about you? Is He real to you? You can confide in Him, but you have to trust that He’s there and that He wants to be close to you! Before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ told His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). That’s an amazing statement from the Savior of all mankind!
As one researcher noted in the New York Post report, “Having someone in your corner who is there to help you with life’s challenges can make a world of difference.” And the most important “Someone” to have “in our corner” is God. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ love us. No matter how alone we feel in this world, They will not leave us nor forsake us if we reach out to Them in faith, trust, and heartfelt obedience (Hebrews 13:5).
Do you need someone to confide in? You don’t have to be alone.