Success breeds loneliness
Success is one of life’s greatest sources of satisfaction, and yet a series of new research has identified that it can, unexpectedly and without warning, breed loneliness. Rarely discussed, loneliness is quickly emerging as one of society’s greatest hazards. Irrespective of background, social standing, education or net worth, loneliness is indiscriminate in selecting its victims – and is increasingly affecting those you’d least expect.
Indeed, loneliness has become so pronounced across some tranches of society, most notably successful, professional males, that it has been termed ‘chronic disconnection syndrome’, and compounds a sense of isolation.
By definition, chronic disconnection syndrome results from years of focus on individual success at the expense of investing time, energy and emotion into relationships. Scientifically speaking, without the ongoing cultivation of healthy relationships, the neural pathways that allow an individual to feel safe, secure and satisfied, even in moments when they are alone, inevitably deteriorate.
It seems paradoxical that a lifelong commitment to work or an intense focus on business enterprise might breed loneliness, but unless adequate attention is paid to building companionships – whether romantic or platonic – rather than solely prioritising the next professional milestone, loneliness can prevail.
The danger of course is that loneliness can self-perpetuate. While a healthy connection might afford participants a certain energy or uplift, the chronically disconnected experience quite the opposite. Verging on a paralysis, individuals can become intimidated by anything more than a passing acquaintance and withdraw themselves further when faced with the prospect. Research shows that a whole generation has woken up in later life, often on the verge of retirement, realising that they’ve never made time for another, and at what cost?
‘Research shows that a whole generation has woken up in later life, often on the verge of retirement, realising that they’ve never made time for another, and at what cost?’
All enjoyable facets of life are borne out of relationships, sharing successes and moments of joy, and a private intimacy that might go unnoticed by an outsider. Physical health and wellbeing are inextricable from successful, rewarding interactions and it’s critical to keep that front of mind throughout life – not just when we reach a certain age.
Fundamentally, relationships are at the core of fulfilment and no man is an island; after all, weren’t we built for companionship?