People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
— J. Newton
Are You Feeling Lonely?
Have you ever felt isolated, unwanted, unloved, and/or unimportant? That’s what loneliness kind of feels like. You feel as though you are shut-off from the world you so desperately want to be a part of.
Loneliness affects people from all walks of life — even people who on the surface don’t appear to be lonely. They have many friends and plenty of people who care about them, and yet they feel lonely and isolated. They feel as though they are emotionally disconnected from the world and their surroundings, and they have difficulty making the necessary changes to improve their state-of-being.
Loneliness isn’t something you feel all of a sudden when you wake up one morning. It is something that grows and develops over time. It’s therefore not one thing, but rather a combination of things, experiences and individual moments that come together and eventually lead to the feelings of loneliness. For instance the loneliness you are feeling could be the result of hurt feelings, of persistent rejection, of ongoing criticism, or of neglect. Feelings of loneliness can also result from a broken heart, from losing someone you love, from a lack of meaningful social relations, or as a result of a social fear that leads to shyness.
Loneliness is not a pleasant experience. It can make you feel very sad and isolated, and can even lead to depression and thoughts of suicide. It’s therefore a very serious experience that you must work to overcome. However, loneliness is really only a state-of-mind. You are feeling lonely because you are simply lacking the necessary perspective. In fact, there are other people in exactly your shoes who are going through similar experiences, and yet they feel empowered and excited. They don’t label themselves and being lonely. They instead embrace moments of solitude for self-reflection and for self-improvement.
Periods of loneliness are often unavoidable, inescapable and are actually a normal and natural part of life. In reality, these moments are not moments of loneliness, but rather moments that allow you to be with yourself and your own thoughts and feelings. In fact, sometimes we all need periods of solitude. These moments provide you with the personal space you need to ponder and reflect on your choices, decisions and actions, and to gain perspective and clarity about your life and circumstances. What this means is that loneliness is not a condition you fall into, it is rather a state-of-being you choose to experience at any one moment in time. And if it’s something you are choosing to do, then it also means you can choose otherwise.
Overcoming Feelings of Loneliness
Overcoming the feelings of loneliness is never an easy process. You will need to be open to change and open to new experiences and perspectives. Sometimes people find themselves caught so profoundly within their own experience of loneliness that it’s as though they are living on the very bottom of a deep dark well — isolated from the entire world. Climbing out often takes a herculean effort. However, it shouldn’t be like this. You are not stuck on the bottom of a deep dark well. In fact, if you want to use a metaphor, then loneliness is much like being caught up in a muddy pit of quicksand. Yes, you might be stuck, however you are far from isolated. There are people all around you who are willing to give you a helping hand to pull you out of the mud. All you need to do is reach out and open yourself up to the possibilities.
Here is a four step process you can use to help you overcome your feelings of loneliness.
Your very first step is to acknowledge that you are feeling lonely. Denying the fact that you are feeling lonely will only hinder your progress.
It’s important to remind yourself that loneliness isn’t so much about isolation. It’s rather about an emotional disconnect you have with the world and the people around you. This is what is manifesting in your life as loneliness. And this is what you must acknowledge and own up to.
Next you must evaluate your circumstances. Ask yourself:
Why am I feeling lonely?
When specifically do I feel lonely?
Where specifically do I feel lonely?
Where am I feeling lonely most often?
These four questions are very important because they help you highlight the reasons why you are feeling lonely and the conditions within which you are feeling most alone. You might actually be surprised with your responses. You probably don’t feel equally lonely all the time. There are most likely periods and moments throughout your day or week where you are feeling more lonely and isolated. It’s very important to clarify these areas because within the answers to these questions lie the solutions you are searching for to help you overcome your feelings of loneliness. For instance, maybe you should focus on spending more time on the areas where you are feeling more connected and less lonely, while avoiding wherever possible the specific situations and circumstances that lead to periods of loneliness.
Let’s now evaluate how you got to this place of loneliness. Ask yourself:
What events and circumstances led me to this place of loneliness?
What could I have done differently at the time to potentially avoid this situation?
What can I learn from this experience?
Knowing this, what could I now do to feel less lonely?
There will be a set of specific events and circumstances that have led you to these feelings of loneliness. Keep in mind that it often won’t be one single event, but rather a culmination of events. Also it’s important to remember that your loneliness is a state-of-mind. It’s therefore not so much what happened to you that matters, but rather a result of how you perceived and responded to what happened at the time. And all this has to do with the expectations you have of yourself and possibly of other people. Ask yourself:
What expectations do I have?
What expectations do I have of myself?
What expectations do I have of other people?
Are these expectations realistic and achievable?
What are more realistic expectations that would help me feel less lonely in this situation?
Your expectations are shaping how you view your world. In fact, your expectations are shaping your view of reality and thusly influencing how you feel at any one moment in time. Maybe you are emotionally disconnected from the world because you have unrealistic expectations about yourself, about your circumstances and/or about other people? If this sounds like you, then commit yourself today to be more realistic in the way you think about and approach the world around you.
When you’re feeling lonely, it’s easy to blame yourself for your problems, for your failures, and for your inadequacies. It’s just so easy to wallow in self-pity and use this as an excuse to emotionally disconnect yourself with the rest of the world. This is certainly no way to live, and will only hurt you in the long-run.
Stop wallowing in self-pity, and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Blaming yourself for your problems is admirable. However, you’re going about it the wrong way. It’s not about blame, but rather about taking full responsibility for your life and circumstances. And when you take responsibility you are at that moment taking conscious control over your life, choices, decisions and actions. You are putting yourself in the driver’s seat, and placing your destiny in the palm of your hands.
Likewise, immediately stop comparing yourself with other people. Yes, other people might have more friends, deeper emotional relationships, and seem to be very happy and fulfilled. At least on the surface it seems this way. However, maybe below the surface things are very different. However, no matter what the truth is, it shouldn’t be any of your business. Focus on yourself. Focus on your own life, and only compare yourself to the best you can be at any moment in time. In fact, strive to do something more tomorrow. Strive to be better and take a step forward to develop deeper emotional bonds and connections with other people. One small step at a time is what you need to overcome your feelings of loneliness.
This is where you must now take full responsibility for your decisions and for your life moving forward. There are no more excuses. You have all the information you need and the perspective required that will allow you to take positive action to improve your life. So the question remains, how will you go about this process?
For starters, remind yourself that nothing happens over night. You won’t suddenly overcome your feelings of loneliness in one day. This is a process that takes time. In fact, it is preferable to take small and gradual steps instead of big leaps of faith. Taking big leaps can quickly get overwhelming and might even force you back into your comfort zone.
To begin with, begin connecting with the natural world. Go for a walk and connect with nature. Walk in the park, play with some animals, smell some flowers and just explore the flora and fauna. As you go about this task, you might quickly realize that the natural world is never lonely. There’s just so much going on. Everything is interconnected. Nature flows and breathes as one organism. In fact, you are part of that organism. You are an extension of the natural world. You are one with that world. Feel the energy and the love as you explore your natural environment. This alone will immediately help you feel less lonely.
Once you have regained your connection with the natural world, it’s now time to connect with other people. However, don’t just connect with anyone. Make sure you connect with positive and inspiring people who have a zest for life and a passionate reason for living. Connect with people who share your beliefs and values, who have similar interests and goals. These are the people who will add the greatest value to your life. And these are the people with whom you can begin creating strong emotional bonds.
You can connect with like-minded people at the local supermarket, by joining a club or group, by walking in the park, by volunteering your time to a good cause, by talking with a random stranger on the street, or even connecting with people online. However, if you do decide to connect with people online, be sure that there’s also the possibility to meet offline. Only through direct face-to-face interaction will you develop strong emotional connections with others that will help you to overcome your feelings of loneliness. In the end your goal is to build strong and lasting friendships. It’s the friendships that stand the test of time that will successfully pull you out of the doldrums of loneliness.
Dealing with Loneliness
Loneliness doesn’t need to be a part of your life. In fact, it will be very difficult for you to feel lonely if you’re connecting on an emotional level with your environment, with other people, and with the world around you. However, establishing this connection can take some time. It will require you break out of old and limiting habits, thoughts and patterns of behavior. It will require some effort and you might very well need to push yourself outside your comfort zone at times in order to establish these emotional connections. However, the process will be valuable, and you will reap the rewards as you develop a healthier relationships with yourself, with others and with the world around you.
Let’s take a long-term outlook on your journey from loneliness and into a emotionally connected world. Here are some suggestions to get you started on this new adventure:
Find Hope and Courage
For the journey ahead, you will need to cultivate hope and courage. You will need courage to help you stretch your comfort zone and take the necessary risks to go out into the world and do things that might very well make you feel somewhat uncomfortable. However, courage alone might not provide you with enough forward momentum. It’s during these moments you will also need to find hope to get you through the most difficult moments along your journey.
Hope will provide you with the ray of light at the end of the tunnel. It seems so far away and so out of reach. But you know its there. And you know that if you just keep moving forward courageously through the darkness that you will eventually get there, and it will all be worthwhile in the end.
This journey out of loneliness will certainly not be easy. You may struggle, and at times things will not go your way. As such, when things are at their worst, you will need to find even more strength to keep moving forward. And you will find this strength by turning to gratitude to help steer you in the right direction.
To bring a sense of gratitude into your life, ask yourself:
What am I grateful for?
Why am I grateful for these things?
What benefit do these things bring into my life?
Why is all this important?
How does all this make me feel?
Gratitude will remind you of what’s most important. It will help “ground” you, and allow you to build a stronger foundation moving forward. Gratitude may even help you awaken the confidence within yourself to keep going, to keep persisting during difficult moments along your journey.
Keep Yourself Involved and Active
In order to overcome the feelings of loneliness in the long-run, it’s absolutely paramount that you keep yourself involved and active every single day. This is important, because when you’re involved and active you will have no time to think about the feelings of loneliness. In fact, the act of participation and movement will immediately involve your emotions. Once your emotions are involved and connected with the world around you, there is no room for loneliness. It will suddenly become much easier to connect with other people, to build friendships, strong bonds, and also to just simply enjoy more of life.
Keeping yourself involved and active might mean participating within community events. It might mean partaking in your favorite hobbies, sports, and fitness classes. It might mean joining a gym or getting involved in an outdoor activity with some friends. It could mean volunteering your time to a worthy charity or cause that you would like to support. It could also mean helping a stranger or friend in some way. In fact, in the end it all comes down to being more helpful, useful and adding more value to other people’s lives. And the irony of all this is that you also add more value to your life. Suddenly everything seems different and life seems well worth living.
Nurture Your Creativity
Your creativity is at the heart of your passions, dreams and aspirations. When you express yourself creatively you immediately begin feeling better about yourself; you immediately begin feeling better about life. In fact, all of a sudden you develop a zest for life and this helps you connect emotionally with the environment and your surroundings.
Finding that creative spark and expressing your creativity might not be easy at first. You might in fact find that there is some resistance. You are coming from a lonely place, and it’s therefore difficult to consciously break out of this cycle. And it’s of course important not to force things. Creativity can’t be forced. It is something that must come from within you naturally and effortlessly.
To release your creativity, you need to first settle your mind and relax your body. Do something that brings you pleasure. Listen to your favorite music, or watch an inspiring documentary or film. Or maybe all you need is to simply step out into the world and go for a walk in the park. While you’re there, observe your surroundings, connect with nature, watch the people around you. It’s during these moments where you will find your creative spark, or in other words: the inspiration you need to begin focusing on something you’re passionate about.
You can also find ways to spark your creativity by taking classes. For instance taking a dance class, a music class, a writing class or an art class can do wonders to help you relax your mind and begin connecting with the creative part of your being. It’s no doubt a process that can’t be rushed, and as such it will take time. However, your patience will be rewarded ten-fold once you being tuning-in to the creative part of yourself.
Develop Your Social Skills
Feeling lonely doesn’t mean that you don’t have very good social skills. You might in fact be very competent within the social arena. However, feeling lonely means that you have lost that emotional connection with the outside world. You must once again regain that connection, and one of the best ways to do this is to connect with other people.
It’s important to remind yourself of the importance of continuously developing your social skills. This is especially true if you are self-conscious and shy while in the company of others. In such instances learn more about human nature. Learn about what motivates people. Find out how to read and understand body language. Remind yourself about the importance of empathy and how to become more empathetic and tuned-in to people’s true feelings, desires, needs and insecurities. Also, learn how to handle difficult social situations, especially how to handle conflict and disagreement. All of these are critical areas that will help you become more socially competent. And when you become more socially competent it will be much easier to connect with other people on a deeper emotional level, and that will in essence become the lifeline you need to get you out of the doldrums of loneliness.
Finally, in order to truly connect with another person you must become more curious. You must become fascinated with other people, with their lives, with their passions, goals, and problems. This curiosity will allow you to build very close emotional ties, which could be exactly what you need during times of greatest loneliness.
Develop Your Emotional Coping Skills
As you relate and interact with other people, you will most likely face emotional difficulties. Not everyone will make you feel great about yourself. In fact, there could be some people who will make your life an absolute nightmare. You may very well be judged, ridiculed, rejected, and criticized. The world will also throw other problems your way, which will lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, overwhelm and frustration. All this might make you feel a little angry or even depressed. And as a result you will fall back into your shell of loneliness and solitude.
To avoid this pattern, you have to commit yourself towards developing your emotional coping skills. You must discover what it takes to manage the difficult emotions you might face successfully. You must for instance learn to cope with stress, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, anger, disappointment, and a plethora of other emotions. Likewise, you must know how to best handle rejection and criticism. You must understand how to work through failure and mistakes, and above all else you must be willing to change and adapt to every situation that life throws your way. That is what it takes to become emotionally intelligent, and these are the areas you must focus on to help you develop and maintain an emotional connection with the world around you.
Avoid Indulging in Addictions
It’s easy to indulge in addictions when you’re feeling lonely. You’re alone, you’re disconnected from the world and the only way to preoccupy your time is to indulge in things that are often not very healthy, and can certainly harm you in the long-run.
Addictions such as excessive amounts of television, alcohol, sleep, drugs, food, etc, can lead to further problems and can create an even deeper disconnect from the world around you. Avoid these addictions by focusing instead on the things you are most passionate about. In fact, one of the best ways to avoid indulging in these addictions is to connect with other people. Go out into the world and give your time to a good cause or to help someone in need. When you do this, you will find that your thoughts will all of a sudden turn away from your addictions, and will rather be transfixed on helping improve other people’s lives.
Don’t Dwell Upon the Negatives
When you’re feeling lonely, it’s easy to wallow in self-pity and constantly dwell on all the things that you don’t have, on all the things that went wrong, on all your failures, and regrets. This is in essence how lonely people think. They are trapped within a world of their own regrets and inadequacies. They are reliving these experiences over and over again. And each time they relive these experiences they feel ever so more miserable and alone.
It’s important to remind yourself that not everything is what it seems to be. Yes, things might not have gone your way. However, many of these things are probably very trivial matters. They are things that you are blowing out of proportion. You are focusing on the negatives and making them larger then life, and this is making you feel absolutely miserable and as result you are disconnecting from the world.
Remind yourself that you might very well be taking life a little too seriously. Maybe things aren’t as bad as you make them out to be. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it means to have fun, to relax and to enjoy your life. Just maybe you need to start viewing things in a more positive light. And to do this, you might need to remind yourself of what’s most important at this very moment. Ask yourself:
Where am I taking life too seriously?
Where am I accentuating the negatives?
How am I exacerbating my negative feelings?
What’s most important in my life right now?
Why is this important?
The moment you tune-in to what’s most important, is the moment you begin putting things into perspective. Just maybe, what you thought was important before will no longer have any significance. And just maybe, you will stop taking your life so seriously and will begin living it to the fullest.
Explore Your Passions and Life’s Purpose
To overcome your feelings of loneliness it’s important that you find that excitement, enthusiasm and zest for life that you once had. For this to happen you will need to explore your passions and begin setting empowering goals that will move you to action. These goals will provide you with a sense of purpose. They will give you a sense of direction and can provide you with the impetus you need to step out into this world and make something of yourself instead of constantly wallowing in self-pity. However, in order to get there you must find out what it is that makes you truly happy. Ask yourself:
What makes me happy?
What am I passionate about?
What kind of things get me excited?
What goals would I like to achieve?
What kinds of things would I like to have in my life?
How can I begin moving in this exciting direction starting today?
When you’re excited and enthused about life, there is no longer room for loneliness because loneliness cannot exist when you are connected emotionally with your passions and with your purpose for living.
Create a Bucket List
If you are finding it difficult to tap into your passions and purpose for living, then your next best option is to create a bucket list of activities you would like to do. This bucket list will of course not replace a set of inspiring goals you are working towards, however it will certainly get you active and involved. And through the process of involvement you might find that spark of inspiration you need to discover your life’s purpose.
A bucket list contains crazy, fun, and wild things that you’ve always wanted to try but never really got the chance. These things don’t have to be complicated or out of reach. The items on your bucket list can in fact be very simple and straightforward. So whether you want to sky-dive, rock climb or simply read that novel that everyone has been raving about, does not matter. Just create your list of 101+ things you want to do and begin checking them off one by one over weeks, months and years. Involving yourself in these activities may very well provide you with the inspiration you need to find what it is you’re most passionate about.
Develop New Skills
Take some evening classes to learn a new language or to develop some new skills. The classes you take will allow you to connect with other like-minded individuals who are also working towards the same goals and life objectives. Just maybe these people also share your passions and you can therefore help each other along the way. Furthermore, the skills you learn can very well open doors to new opportunities down the line.
Rekindle Old Friendships
Every now and then, it’s helpful to reconnect with old friends and relations from your past. The connections you make might help bring back some fond memories of better days when loneliness wasn’t yet a part of your life. Just maybe reconnecting with old friends will help you recapture your youthful enthusiasm and vigor for life. And maybe that’s all you need to begin living life once again with a renewed sense of purpose and passion.
Get a Pet Companion
Pets can provide great companionship during times when you’re feeling most lonely. They will provide you with unconditional love and acceptance and will be there for you in times of greatest need.
Dogs in particular can be wonderful companions for a number of reasons. For instance, they can help you connect with other people who also love dogs. Just a simple stroll in the park with your dog can immediately lead to a conversation with a stranger. And this stranger may very well help remind you that even though you are feeling lonely, you are in fact not alone in this world, and that there’s ample opportunity out there to establish meaningful and lasting connections with interesting and inspiring people.
Have you considered that you can actually be alone and spend time by yourself without feeling lonely? This is the world of an introvert. These are people who are very capable socially and don’t mind connecting with others, however they choose periods of solitude to look after themselves, to look after their needs, and to reflect upon their life and circumstances.
It’s perfectly okay to spend time alone. Solitude will provide you with the space you need to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the company of others. However, solitude comes without regrets or resistance. Loneliness on the other hand is riddled with regrets and resistance.
When choosing solitude, release all your negative thoughts and consciously settle yourself in the moment. Learn to become mindful — to find peace within your solitude. And during these moments take time to pamper yourself with a spa treatment, a massage, a warm bath, etc. It’s important that during these moments you feel good about yourself, and that there are no regrets or ill-thoughts about the past or worries about the future. Just be in the moment, enjoy your pleasurable moments of solitude, and once it’s over reconnect once again with the world around you.
Become Comfortable Being Yourself
In the end, when it comes to dealing with loneliness it all boils down to the comfort level you feel within yourself about yourself. You must feel comfortable being alone and spending time with yourself without feeling lonely.
To make this a reality, it’s important you work on developing your self-esteem. Improving your self-esteem will help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and will likewise help you build the confidence you need to step outside your comfort zone and take important risks that will allow you to move your life forward in a more positive direction.
In summary, in order to overcome loneliness you must have a healthy relationship with your own self first and foremost. You must feel comfortable within yourself and comfortable being alone without feeling lonely. When you reach this stage, that is when you will truly know and understand that you have left loneliness in the past and can now finally move on with the rest of your life.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Would you like to keep these concepts at the forefront of your mind? If so, then you might like to download the accompanying mind map reference poster to your iPad, tablet or computer. The map presents you with a quick overview of this article. It’s designed specifically to help improve your memory and recall of this information so that you can better integrate these concepts into your daily thoughts, habits and actions. Your purchase will also go a long way towards supporting the further development of these maps.
If you enjoy using these maps, then I would like to encourage you to become a Lifetime Member where you will gain access to an ever growing number of 250+ self-growth mind maps that can help you excel in every area of life. It would be fantastic to have you join our community of existing lifetime members.
Gain More Knowledge…
- 3 Simple Steps that Can Take You from Being Lonely @ Lifehack
- 4 Simple Prescriptions to Deal with Loneliness @ Pick the Brain
- 8 Simple Tips to Overcome Loneliness @ Rowdy Kittens
- 10 More Ideas to Help with Loneliness @ Psych Central
- How Can I stop Feeling Lonely? @ Personal Excellence
- How to Embrace Loneliness and Blossom @ Make It Happen
- How to Overcome Loneliness @ Tiny Buddha
- How to Overcome Loneliness @ Alive and Well Online
- Ideas for Overcoming Loneliness @ Psychology Today
- If You Pursue Happiness, You May Find Loneliness @ Psychology Today