What Is loneliness, and how can you feel less lonely?
Everyone feels lonely at some point in their lives. Loneliness is utterly uncomfortable, and it’s something that no one wants to feel, but it’s something that everyone does feel at certain times in their life. How you react to your experience of feeling lonely will be the determining factor of getting past it. Loneliness affects everyone; women, men, and people of different religious backgrounds and cultures. Everyone feels lonely because it is a human emotion. The truth is, we are never really alone, we just think we are. We let our minds and our emotions get the best of us.
Life is not easy, and emotions are real. If you are feeling lonely, please do yourself a favor; take care of yourself, and tell someone how you feel. The worst thing you can do when you’re feeling lonely is to remain lonely in your thoughts and fears. Don’t worry that you will be bothering someone with your woes. This is when you will see who is really there for you, and who you can count on for support.
No two people experience loneliness the same way, and people experience loneliness for various reasons. Check out some scenarios and remedies below!
#1 Physically Alone
I was on a walk the other day, and I noticed what seemed to be a beautiful scene; a young man helping an elderly man with his groceries. One by one, the boy took the items out of the trunk of his car and into the elderly man’s cart. At first, I thought that this was incredibly heart-warming but as I got closer, I could hear the exchange between the two.
Old Man: “I don’t want the eggs to go there. They might break!”
Young man: “They won’t break. This is the best place for them. In the corner, they will get crushed.”
Old Man: “I want them in the corner for support!”
Young Man: (With frustration) “Just put them there. It’s not a big deal. Ugh. Who cares!”
It took everything inside of me NOT to say something. My healer, helper “savior-self,” wanted to interrupt and play referee, but I kept my mouth shut. After noticing that I had been staring, the boy changed his tone and started talking with more respect and kindness. After the last item was placed in the elderly man’s cart, he asked the young man if he would like to go inside and stay for lunch. The boy let him know that he couldn’t stay because his dad wanted him to go home for lunch.
At that point, I realized that the young man wasn’t an Instacart employee; he was family. Was the elderly man the boy’s grandfather, great grandfather? Who knows? All I know is that my heart broke for the elderly man. Before I knew it, tears started rolling down my face. Despite the way he was getting treated, the elderly man wanted the company for lunch; he wanted the boy to stay. My heart wasn’t breaking just for the elderly man; it was breaking for the collective loneliness in the world right now, especially now. People are “banned” from one another, essentially. People need people; it’s why we live and why we stay alive, so that’s why it’s heartbreaking to think of all the lonely people in the world.
What can we do? What can we say to help make an impact and change the loneliness in the world? The truth, is there isn’t a lot we can do to personally help every single person who is suffering, but what we CAN do, is to encourage anyone who knows of someone who appears to be lonely, to reach out to them, send them a card, Facetime, Zoom, send flowers, a care package; bring over a meal or sing them a song. In this time, when hugging and being physically close with one another is not an option, there are alternative ways to help people not feel so alone.
#2 Together… Yet Alone
One of the worst feelings in the world is being in a relationship but feeling alone. You can literally be next to someone physically but feel more alone and farther away from them and yourself than you have ever felt. When we feel connected to ourselves, we feel connected to others. Being in a relationship with someone who isn’t aligned with you, who at the core isn’t the right one for you, can lead you to feel less like “you” and more like a shell of you, which can make you feel alone. When this happens in a relationship, it’s no one’s fault; no one did anything wrong, and often there’s nothing to fix, it’s just a matter of accepting that things aren’t meant to progress any further.
Some relationships have expiration dates. The longer you reside in that relationship, the farther away you might get from yourself and the harder it will be to remind yourself of who you truly are.
Not all relationships will end because of lonely feelings. Some relationships that are meant to last will remain intact with a little awareness, compromise, and understanding of one another.
Talk to your significant other. Tell them how you are feeling. I always encourage my clients to tell their significant other that they are feeling alone in the relationship, and nine out of ten times, their significant other had NO idea how they were feeling. Communication has the potential to bring two people together again, and the relationship can get stronger. Whether or not the relationship is meant to continue or not, it’s better to be vulnerable and open-up because you never want to look back and wish you would have shared how you felt. Be courageous. Live big! Be brave! Open your mouth and your heart, and share how you are feeling.
#3 “No One Understands”
One can feel alone if they insist that they are the only one in the world who is experiencing something. You’ve heard it from a loved one, and you’ve felt it also; it goes something like this:
“No one understands what I’m going through. Why is my life so hard? There’s no way that anyone has had it THIS bad!” Even though in your heart, you know that you can’t possibly be the ONLY person who has experienced something, it doesn’t help when you are in the depths of despair and self-pity. Yes, in reality, we all experience things differently; feelings are subjective. However, life circumstances are widely experienced; breakups, the death of a loved one, or personal health issues, so chances are there’s someone in your life who will completely understand and relate to how you’re feeling.
If you are suffering alone, I challenge and encourage you to talk with a friend, family member or therapist you trust. Share with them how you are feeling. Even if they can’t understand, you will feel a lot less lonely, knowing that you are supported and loved by someone.
Venting and talking about your loneliness is a way to get out of your head and into your heart. Watch the negative narratives that used to consume you, vanish as you open your heart to sharing your truth with someone else. The simple act of someone witnessing your pain can be healing in-and-of-itself. Being witnessed; your ugly cry, bright red nose, and snot flying left and right. To feel supported and loved no matter what is an incredible feeling, I guarantee it will cure your lonely blues.
#4 You’ve “Lost” Yourself
Feeling like you’ve lost yourself can feel lonely:
“I feel like I’ve lost myself!”
“I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”
“I don’t feel like ‘Me.'”
All of those statements can be very scary feelings for many reasons. The fear that you will never “come back” can be a scary feeling, and an overwhelming feeling of loneliness.
A lot of people throughout the quarantine have gone through something called “the dark night of the soul.” It’s a term that is often used in the spiritual world that can be related to the term “hitting rock bottom.”
Why am I bringing this up? I’m bringing this up because the dark soul of the night can be a very lonely place, like the loneliest because you’re so removed from yourself that you can’t even imagine how someone could help you, let alone have the ability to help yourself. You’re not thinking rationally, and a surprising sense of hopelessness comes over you. The dark soul of the night occurs when you feel so down, so lost and so defeated that you get to the point where you feel like there has to be another way to live.
Do the inner work that it takes to remind yourself of who you are. Uncover the layers that are preventing you from connecting with you. Heal what you need to heal so that you can be free. Not healing and staying complacent only keeps us stuck.
You have the power within to get yourself going on a path to healing. Look at your life up and down, inside and out. Look at all aspects of yourself, including your “shadow” (those darker sides that you don’t like to look at). Forgive yourself and others. Have compassion for yourself and others, and own up. Own every choice you’ve made, every relationship you’ve had, every word you’ve uttered. Own it ALL! Own your past and your present to make sure that your future is everything you need it to be. Get very raw and honest with yourself, and get clear on who you are, where you want to go from here, and how you want to live the rest of your life. Re-emerge as the strong, beautiful, confident, conscious, loving being that is your essential nature, your authentic self. In life, we need to shed the layers that hold us back and keep us from ourselves.; we also need to push aside our mind and ego that likes to get in our way.
If you are feeling lonely, just know that the other side of the dark night of the soul, your authentic self is just waiting on the other side of the horizon. It loves you so much and is thanking you for all the work that you’ve done and will continue to do; the difficult and painful work you are doing to get yourself over there.
Life is too short to feel lonely, and it’s too short to feel sad. Take a chance and be vulnerable and share how you are feeling with someone. The reality, is they WILL understand because in some capacity they have felt lonely too. They may not understand your exact situation if they haven’t been in it, but if they love you unconditionally, they will open their arms, tell you it’s going to be ok and tell you that you deserve to be happy and loved. They will let you know that you are supported and held and that you were never really alone; it was an illusion.
It might feel harder to come out of this darkness during a time when life seems to have stopped and collectively, there is nervous energy, a low vibration and a somewhat dark energy (if you will). However, your life will get better, your dreams will come true, you will feel peace in your heart again, but you need to allow others in, and you need to take care of yourself.
No one deserves to feel lonely. NO ONE. If you are someone who is isolated like the elderly man I saw, or you know someone who is isolated, do whatever you need to do to have human interaction. Whether it’s seeing people in-person with masks or talking on the phone or Face Timing with a loved one, whatever situation you’re in, do your best to connect, give, and receive BIG love.
Jaime Bronstein is a relationship coach, radio show host of “Love Talk Live” on LA Talk Radio, blogger, author, wife and mommy. She has been a practicing therapist for 18 years. Jaime has a master’s degree in social work from New York University, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University and a certificate in spiritual psychology from The University of Santa Monica. Jaime focuses on teaching her clients how to unconditionally love themselves, how to be vulnerable, tap into their inner strength, and live more authentically in order to achieve their relationship goals. Jaime will not only help you heal and extinguish any negative relationship habits, but she will also provide you with the tools needed in order to have a successful relationship. Find her online at www.therelationshipexpert.com and catch her on-camera radio show. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Fernando @cferdo.