The Guardian recently published an article under a great title, which you can see below. I’m glad to see that the narrative of loneliness is changing in our country. As someone who myself has experienced loneliness, and who has clients who come to see me because of it, I know how life and health deterring that sensation could be. Sometimes, when it’s really bad and you feel really alone, the sensation could be keeping you stuck and almost unable to do anything productive because of its’ weight on you. Ironically, what would heal your loneliness may be the last thing that you’d want to do at that moment: that of getting out there and going somewhere where you can meet people and change the course of that loneliness for good.
I was so surprised to read in the article that the word “loneliness” is a relatively recent addition to the English language. It seems to echo my personal belief that the changing aspects of society, which in so many ways are wonderful, they are also what makes loneliness so prevalent today (and much more so than a century ago for instance). Unfortunately, the growth of technology and our incredibly wonderful independence has led to an increase of loneliness. The fact that so many live longer lives too has meant a growth of loneliness in the elderly. Much of society these days has lost the value of keeping elderly with the family and caring for them until their last days, so we find that our chances of being lonely go up as we age.
No matter what your age, however, there are several things you can do to tackle loneliness. Here are a few ideas.
First of all, tackling loneliness requires proactively seeking the company of others. Loneliness can become a vicious circle whereby you don’t have significant others in your life so you feel lonely. That makes you feel bad and makes you want to hide yourself away and maybe fill your emptiness with escapism, such as TV or books or video games or even just sitting there doing nothing just feeling bad about your fate of being alone. You feel bad hence you avoid the company of others, but this then makes you feel more lonely and thereby worse. You feel that you are stuck in a vicious circle that you find it nearly impossible to get out of. Hence my first advice is to realize that getting out of loneliness will take some work (sometimes it may feel like a lot of work) and it will require you to leave what’s comfortable (staying hidden) behind and force yourself to do things and go to places where you can meet people.
Secondly, remember that you are not the only one feeling lonely and feeling stuck. When you start to put yourself out there, it will initially challenge you in every way. You may come to events and workshops that interest you but where everyone else may seem to know each other already and you will initially feel even worse for being there. Initially. The trick is to get past that initial reaction of wanting to run out of there and to have a look around and find who else seems to be feeling as awkward and misplaced as you (I promise there are always others). This is your best chance to make an ally (and possibly a new best friend or significant someone). You know how paralyzing that feeling of loneliness could be so you also know that this person who is feeling just like you is probably struggling to make a move to meet someone as much as you are. Take the initiative and just say “hello” (I teach one off workshops on how to do this). Trust me, you’ll be happy you did. And if their reaction isn’t as friendly and warm as you would have wanted, take it as good practice and look for someone else to speak with, maybe even a group that is looking rather uncomfortable or in need of someone new. Be interested in others and be warm and open and you will eventually find yourself surrounded by people who want to get to know you.
And thirdly, you should realize that you can ask for help to deal with loneliness. The feeling can reach serious existential questions and might cause emotional outbursts which are not yours, but your body’s way of saying ‘hey wake up, and do something in order to make your temple feel better, cleaner and more light’. If you feel you cannot manage your loneliness and nothing really elevates your mood, seek out some help. Try to be open to whoever you speak with and really listen and act on any advice offered. I would say that a majority of my clients these days come to work with me because that feeling of loneliness has grown too much to cope on their own. Being able to be genuinely honest with me and having me help them see that there is a way out just with a bit of action and changes in their life immediately releases that tension and helps them feel better and breathe more easily. It’s no surprise that my most popular talks these days are the ones I do about loneliness.To schedule a free 30 minute call with me about how you too can deal with loneliness, click here.