This article was contributed by Pink Moods.
How are you feeling?
Feeling lonely does not necessarily mean being alone. In fact loneliness is frequently present despite being surrounded by friends and family. It can be hard to define why you may be feeling this way, as often it is the perception that we are secluded that highlights a deep craving for human contact and understanding, but the loneliness itself can prevent us from seeking exactly the support that we need. If we don’t tackle it head on then it can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety [5 triggers of anxiety] and ill health. So what can we do if we are feeling alone?
We may have long standing friendships, but struggle to form new ones, or we may feel that we have lots of ‘friends’ who appear to appreciate us on a surface level, but never seem to understand us deep down. It may be that we struggle to open up to ‘friends’ about real issues for fear of embarrassment or being judged. It is at these times that we feel isolated, and despite having company around us, we not only question our existing friendships, but also ourselves [why our friends define us].
Loneliness is not a unique feeling, it is a universal human emotion that we all will come across a number of times in our lives. We all have an innate need for human connection and the reward that comes from being understood, but life changes constantly, so it is unsurprising that at certain points we may feel disconnected, even from those closest to us. The scale and nature of being alone is complex and differs from person to person, but often having superficial relationships, fears or big life changes can make us hesitant to share our true emotions and feelings with others at that time.
Loneliness is often a barrier we use to protect ourselves from difficult times, it can be triggered by something small or a big life changing event. Common reasons are the loss of someone through either death, a breakup [Getting over a break up], fallout or divorce. Other triggers relate to our personality such as setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves [Low self-esteem], underestimating our own abilities or being proud. Family and friends may also let us down which can make us feel disconnected and doubt relationships for a while.
Different times of the day, week or year may cause us to feel lonely and certain types of people may make us feel more isolated than others. Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
1) When do I feel most lonely? – keep a diary of days/times/events that seem to trigger the feeling most
2) Do certain people make you feel lonelier? – Consider if certain groups of people or individuals have a greater effect on your sense of isolation.
3) How long have you been feeling this way? – Moving areas, changing jobs or losing someone close to us all take a period of time to adjust to, but if you feel that the loneliness has started to become a long standing habit that you can’t break free from, it is time to seek some professional support, such as from your GP or a therapist, to help manage your feeling of isolation before it becomes a more significant health problem.
Feeling lonely is all a construct of our minds, so challenging your thinking can be beneficial in these moments.
• Start small- Facing an audience or having deep conversations may not be something that you feel open to at the moment, but don’t cut people out completely. Notice people around you and say hello and smile. Eventually your brain will start to believe you are comfortable in contact with others.
• Listen to others- You may not be ready to share your own deep feelings yet, but by asking how other people are and finding out about their interests you can start to feel some initial level of connection again.
• Don’t take things personally- Make attempts to talk, but know that guessing what others are thinking is not productive as you are not a mind reader so will likely be wrong. Trust that others mean well.
• Associate with people you trust the most- Revisit your list of who you feel least lonely with and try to spend more time with these people.
• Join a new group based around your hobbies- Meeting new people may seem daunting at first, but sharing interests is a powerful way to make you feel more connected again.
• Link up with others – on our community (anonymously if you wish) and share how you are feeling without any fear of embarrassment.
• Find your inner self- Learning to be alone is a critical part of overcoming loneliness. Try yoga or meditation to reconnect with your deeper self once again. [How to find your inner zen] or visit our eBooks or Video Series to learn more about yourself & your strengths.
Feeling lonely is often something that will fade with time as we start to formulate new connections or resurrect old ones. Don’t worry if you are feeling lonely as it is a natural part of life and the adventure into ourselves, learning why we feel alone and tackling it can help develop our own independence and sense of self. However, if you feel you have been this way for some time, then seek support from a therapist who will help to move you into your new stage of life once again.
Photo Credit: Copyright: martinan / 123RF Stock Photo
This article was contributed by Pink Moods.