Everyone experiences loneliness during different periods in their lives. It is part of our reality. Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmingly lonely that we may start to believe that it will never change. We can get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, obsessing, and ultimately a sort of helplessness. Loneliness can be overcome. Another part of our reality is love and caring and it is available to all of us, inside and out. Here are 3 ways YOU can overcome loneliness.
“Awareness” We need to get out of our heads when we are alone. Sadness is an emotion and emotions have physical reactions on our body. Focus on those physical reactions. Check your heart rate and your breathing, is it fast or slow. Check your temperature, do you feel hot, warm or cold? Check your throat or stomach, do you feel a “lump” in your throat or an “emptiness” in your gut? Does your body feel heavy? When you feel sadness and tears welling in your eyes, allow them to flow naturally. You would not be crying if you didn’t need to and suppressing your feelings only make them more uncontrollable. Noticing your physical reactions to loneliness helps you to understand the reality of your feelings.
“Acceptance” I work with many people who have a deep fear or dislike of being alone and sitting with their own thoughts and feelings without distraction. I encourage them to stay with these thoughts and feelings and allow them selves the experience of just accepting them. Too often my clients use alcohol, drugs, video games, sex, other peoples drama, denial etc. to help them avoid the inner void and distract them from their feelings of sadness and loneliness. Another type of distraction is self-criticism and negative self-judgement, ultimately trying to figure out what is wrong with them and why they feel unlovable. There is this fantasy that if they just focus on their negative qualities then they may be able to solve the problem of “What is wrong with me?”. It is a futile exercise only feeding the cycle of depressive thinking and affirming the fear of “unlovableness”. Instead of trying to avoid or “fix” the loneliness, just accept it as a fact. It is a very real and painful feeling and it contains very real and fearful thoughts. Continue your awareness of your loneliness without distraction. Accept that “it is what it is” and it is okay to feel lonely.
“Compassion” It is important to remember and tell yourself that others also feel lonely. This is a very human emotion that we all experience. It is an opportunity to for you to connect with another person in a very honest way. Make contact with someone who is supportive for you, be real with them and tell them what you are feeling. Ask for support and communicate your needs with that person. Could you use a hug, a walk, a face to face talk over tea – ask for it. Even people who love us cannot read our minds and do not always know how to help us unless we ask for what could help us.
Loneliness is not necessarily a bad feeling, it can be an opportunity for us to evaluate our current relationships and discover whether they are healthy and meeting our needs. By accepting our painful feelings we allow them to guide and inform us of what we need and want. By respecting those feelings and spending some time with them, we can learn how to meet our own needs and wants and make more informed decisions that are more aligned with our personal values and desires. Respecting our own loneliness without judgement or criticism also offers us the ability to better and more compassionately empathize with others as well, allowing for more meaningful interactions and relationships in our life.
You will find that in allowing your self to feel and accept loneliness, you show yourself respect and compassion and teach yourself that you are not alone in your very human feelings.