Loneliness carries a stigma for many. People will often admit to being depressed before they will admit to being lonely and often people don’t really recognize loneliness for what it is.
Some people who feel lonely rarely interact with other people, while others are surrounded by people, but don’t feel connected. Loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling and it can feel a little like depression especially when you’re surrounded by people and get that disconnected feeling.
Before you can work to overcome your loneliness you need to understand it.
Everyone has a different need for social inclusion. If you have a higher than average need for inclusion then it will be more difficult to meet your need than someone with a lower need for inclusion.
Regulating your emotions is not just about how you appear from the outside, it is about how you feel on the inside. If your loneliness continues, overtime it can become chronic. When you become chronically upset it makes it difficult for you to evaluate other people’s intentions accurately. You may believe that people are rejecting you when they are not.
Managing your feelings without becoming judgmental of yourself or others is the key to success.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Doing all you can to make friends and find a sense of belonging, but no one is responding?
- Make negative statements and blame others.
- Feel inadequate, unworthy, or shameful.
- Afraid of being attacked by others.
- Afraid the true, authentic you, will not be acceptable.
- Feeling insecure.
Transient loneliness is part of life. Situations of moving from home, losing a loved one, transition from graduation, for example. Humans are social beings after all. Loneliness should serve as a prompt to change your behavior and pay more attention to relationships.
Giving up Self-Judgment
- Stop blaming yourself.
- Don’t call yourself names or berate yourself.
- Accept that loneliness is part of the human condition and let it motivate you to change.
- Accept that loneliness has nothing to do with poor social skills.
Connect with Yourself
Reconnect with your authentic self by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I value most about myself? (For example; I value myself. I value my body. I value my health, I value my self-sufficiency)
- What do I value most about connection? (For example; I value love, I value respect)
- Consider how you will act on the values you just stated. (For example; If you value love, you could resolve to tell one person you love them)
- When you act upon your values you feel more connect to yourself and the world around you.
Connect with Others
Connecting with others requires that you become more present. I like the way Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine put it in their book True Belonging: Mindful Practices to Help You Overcome Loneliness, Connect with Others & Cultivate Happiness, “Set an intention to practice being more present in your relationships,” and use curiosity as a tool to learn more.
This article by Linda and Charlie Bloom, “Stronger at the Broken Places“, is a great monologue of a married couple, Mira and Joel, and Mira’s struggle with loneliness.
Remember that loneliness is part of the human condition and everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives. This means that others understand what it’s like and you are not alone.