Loneliness is often confused with alone-ness. However, it is different. We sometimes really need and want to be alone but we seldom choose loneliness. It seems to get there of its own agreement at times when we are alone because of conditions that divide us from our friends, family etc.
Loneliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is very subjective -- wanting more or different social interactions, feeling isolated or disconnected, not fitting in. Loneliness doesn't automatically equate with living alone. Some people who live by themselves and see family and friends every now and then feel perfectly connected and supported. Some who are surrounded by family and friends feel lonely.
Put simply, loneliness may enter as a cue to get in touch again with people or to put energy into new actions which open up new chances to make friends and relationships. Loneliness may also be correlated with grief. Perhaps you have suffered the loss of an important person, relationship or a significant activity and you miss the security and comfort of familiar people and routines. It takes moment to move on; however, speaking with someone about your loss and setting aside some time each day to cherish the memories will help to advance the grief course.
Loneliness can hang out with other difficult characters, namely rejection, shame and perfectionism. Sometimes these factors can join loneliness and make your life a misery. These factors are experts in getting you to think that you are unlovable, a bore, stupid, socially inept, unattractive, have the family and friends from hell, or most likely to be rejected. They are experts in having you believe all this stuff about yourself.
If this state of affairs is occurring on a habitual basis then it's time to have a get-together with someone (maybe at the counselling service) to talk about how to liberate your life from the negative factors above.
Of course, as lonely people know all too well, making new connections isn't easy. A few can assemble their courage and push into a more sociable life by joining a club, taking a class, or getting involved at church. For many lonely people, though, doing these things can be as difficult as climbing high mountain. For them, the way out may start with accepting the roots of their loneliness. It could be a problem with energy or mood. Anxiety can make social situations seem overwhelming. Or for whatever reason they never developed a talent for making or carrying on relationships.
If loneliness has been a life-long problem, talking with a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or other mental health professional may help you understand what has gotten in the way of making relationships and teach you new skills for starting and developing friendships. If there is an underlying trouble with anxiety or depression, a medication may help ease that burden.
If you are determined to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, altruism is a good first step. Take something you know -- mathematics for instance -- and help someone else. Schools across the country welcome tutors to help children improve their math, reading, and other academic skills.
People with rich social associations generally live longer, get better faster from health setbacks, and have more pleasant lives. Making yours a relationship at a time is good for you, and, if one of those relationships is with a lonely person, it's good for him/her, too.