Tag Archives: loneliness

Why do Britons kill abroad?

OK, this is going to be controversial.  Let me clarify:  I do not mean that Brits are the only ones to kill abroad.  Nor do I mean that Brits have to go abroad to kill and crime doesn’t happen in the UK. Nor am I trying to find excuses for people to commit crimes abroad.  No, I was simply musing on those tragic stories recently in the news:  the mother who smothered her children in Spain and the man who killed his girlfriend in Greece.

Of course we can’t possibly know what was going on in those minds as they embarked upon those horrific deeds.  And I do not want to find a neat, trite little model of an explanation for what must have been (at least in one case) a very complicated and particular set of circumstances.  But I couldn’t help wondering if the fact that these individuals were abroad did contribute in some small way to the tragic outcome.

Life abroad, especially in a sunny clime, still seems very alluring to the British.  And who can blame them?  In this economic climate, a move abroad is not just a lifestyle change, but may also herald better career prospects, better housing, more money, a fresh start away from your mistakes.

Only it seldom lives up to expectations.

Expats nearly always tend to underestimate the hardship and loneliness of living abroad.  The difficulty of dealing with unfamiliar bureaucracy in a foreign language.  The length of time it takes to be accepted and start making friends.  Floundering around until you find your bearings.  It’s like a rollercoaster ride – one minute exhilarating, one minute the lowest of the low.  No one, however well adjusted, will be able to entirely avoid culture shock.

If you are a vulnerable type already, prone to anxiety, jealousy, personality disorders, living abroad can exacerbate these traits and lead you to take extreme action.  Just a thought….

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Lonely this Christmas?

With the recent snowfall in the UK, my children are getting more and more excited about Christmas.  It’s easy to get caught up in this seasonal cheer and just float along in a cloud of euphoria or else allow oneself to get caught up in stress and debt.  But at this time of year I always think of those who have no family and friends with whom to celebrate, for whom Christmas just reinforces their feelings of loneliness.

Recent research findings published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology show that loneliness is contagious.  In other words, lonely people tend to attract similarly lonely people.  Even if they join small groups, it is likely to be composed of introverted people who prefer to retreat within, so it ends up making them feel more lonely.  Lonely people act as a ‘downer’ on others, causing them in turn to behave in less affirming ways.  And everyone ends up being grumpy and hating this season, when they feel they have to make an effort and pretend to be friendly and loving to everybody.

What a set of Scrooges we’ve become! I think the message should be: even if it is an effort, make friends with an extrovert, with a person who does not feel lonely, with someone who has lots of friends.  It may be trying, it may be annoying, at this time of year it may feel like more of a hassle than it’s worth to attend all those repetitive Christmas parties… and you can feel lonely in a crowd.  Go through the motions and who knows….You may well meet a few special people and discover you are even enjoying yourself.  Heaven forbid, you may even start enjoying the festive season!

Merry Christmas everyone, happy Hannukah, Shinnen omedetoo and have a great start to the New Year!

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