📚 FACT: Loneliness developed as an evolutionary survival mechanism to save us from being eaten by big hungry cats and dinosaurs.
Back in the day (think: caveman times), humans roamed the world in tribes. You had to live in a tribe because if you didn’t, you’d be all alone in the wilderness – going up against things much, much bigger and scarier than you, like the stars of Jurrasic Park (not the hot ones.) Having a tribe meant that you had buddies who were there to help fend them off. Being alone – like, literally alone, not figuratively alone – was no bueno.
Loneliness developed as a signal from your brain to your heart to alert you that being separated from your tribe wasn’t good for your survival prospects – and mother nature wanted you to survive so that the human race could procreate and flourish (I can think of worse people to procreate with than Chris Pratt.) You felt lonely, then realized you were, in fact, alone, and figured out how to get back to your tribe or in with another tribe ASAP because it meant life or death. And no, we’re not talking “missing the new episode of Bachelor in Paradise” kind of life and death, although watching too much of that show might result in brain cells dying. Experiment results are pending.
This signal from your brain tells your sympathetic nervous system to come online. That’s the one that controls your fight or flight reactions – survival mode. This makes sense when you’re a caveman in the wild needing to stay on high alert for big hungry cats – but it has many negative repercussions for us modern humans in the 21st century.
Because since there are no more big hungry cats or dinosaurs to be afraid of, we now see other humans as the threat.
This is somewhat logical since we are technically competing with other humans for resources – think promotions and customers and that corner house with the white picket fence that you went into a bidding war with that Stepford wife Nancy trying to get (You’ll find something better and get it for less. Bye Nancy!)
But if other humans are the threat, and other humans are ev-er-y-where – then we’re ALWAYS playing defense and we’re NOT making friends – which is seemingly exactly what we NEED to stop being lonely.
So it seems like mother nature’s totally screwing us now, right?
Well, not if you think about the fact that loneliness and suicide rates are correlated. We still NEED our bodies to warn us that we’re lonely so that we will try to make friends – we’re just going to have to trick our biology in order to do it since it hasn’t caught up with the 21st century.
We usually think of loneliness as a feeling, and we often like to blame ourselves for even feeling that feeling. So first, cut yourself some slack – it’s not just a feeling – it’s your biology trying to save you.
Have you been looking at other humans like they’re hungry hungry hippos?