How to cope with loneliness
It doesn’t make sense that in a world so populated, there are so many people who feel lonely. Perhaps it says a lot about how society has developed from small communities to larger, more impersonal ones. It’s a sad indictment of life nowadays that people who are friendly are often deemed suspicious by others. So what can we do to cope with loneliness?
Reframe the idea of loneliness
The first step is to think about how you perceive loneliness. When we compare ourselves to others, for example on Facebook, we can feel even more lonely than before. We see smiling photos of groups of people and assume they are having fun and that we are missing out somehow. Just because someone is smiling in a photo means nothing. I have smiled for many photos whilst being miserable underneath. Don’t buy into the idea that you are alone and that everyone else has someone. Whenever you feel lonely, remind yourself that loneliness can be a state of mind. It is possible to feel lonely even when in the company of others. True loneliness is the lack of any contact with others. Sadly, many elderly people fall into this category. For younger people, it is easier to avoid loneliness thanks to social media and the internet.
Sometimes it is better to be alone than to be in toxic company. There are ways to feel more at peace with loneliness and to embrace feeling lonely.
Watch out for beliefs that you may have that no one cares or that there is no one out there who would understand you. These are just thoughts and not facts. When we believe our thoughts we behave in accordance and this could mean avoiding others even more due to believing they don’t care. Be brave and reach out.
Enjoy your own company
When you enjoy your own company, it can stave off loneliness. if you find it hard to be alone, ask yourself why. I have come across people who hate to be alone and they will do anything not to be alone without company for more than a few hours. This is often a coping to strategy to avoid some form of perceived threat. Some have the “fear of missing out” aka FOMO. Some just feel they have to constantly be busy. others are afraid to be alone with their own thoughts – this is the most worrying situation. If you keep busy and feel afraid of being alone due to suppressing your thoughts and feelings, you will be temporarily suppressing long term issues that will find another way to emerge. They might emerge in the form of an addiction or some sort of health issue such as irritable bowel syndrome or headaches. Get used to being on your own, it’s great for self awareness.
If you feel lonely, you can take baby steps to reach out to others. There are many charities that help those feeling severe isolation and there are many meet-up groups around (www.meetup.com). There are options and solutions and thanks to the internet, people are able to feel less alone in their homes.
Volunteering is another option (try www.do-it.org) if you want to find like minded people and want to have something to do.
It can be tough to break the bubble of loneliness but there really are caring people out there who want to help. If you are struggling, there are a few places you could call: