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5 Tips For Beating Loneliness

May 12, 2022

Loneliness. It is the ‘social pain’ and part of the human condition at different periods of our lives. We all experience loneliness differently – and to different degrees, but we can agree, it hurts, right?

We are built as social creatures and we need to feel connected and understood by others, but this looks different for all of us and the ‘amount’ we need varies. Some of us love solitude, and it’s an important distinction to make. Solitude feels restorative and peaceful, whereas loneliness feels upsetting and isolating.

One of the most commonly discussed struggles I hear in the privacy of my therapy space, is loneliness. However, when clients have searched for ‘top tips’ it tends to produce lists of tasks to do – like join a club, phone a friend, take up a new hobby – all really great ideas, however can be difficult to manage if you feel overwhelmed. I wanted to add my own slant to these top tips, from the therapy space to you…. so, let’s go!

5 Tips For Managing Loneliness  

1.       Find out what flavour of lonely you are!

Loneliness comes in a range of flavours! We all feel connection in different ways – therefore we all feel lonely in different ways. A great first step is to narrow down exactly what you feel and what matters to you. This is why sometimes we can feel surrounded by people but still feel lonely. It is a different need that is not being met, not merely being in the company of others.

 Spend some time working out what ‘kind’ of lonely you might be experiencing. Here are some ideas to get you started...

  •  I feel different

When you feel people around you don’t share the same values, interests as you. Or they perhaps experience and see the world differently.

  • I’m the new kid in town

    When you are in a new job, or a new town, or a new school and everything feels unfamiliar.

  • Romance? Ha! Not this century! 

When you are missing an intimate closeness to another person

  • If it has four legs and doesn’t talk back. I need it in my life!

    When you have a love for animals, and don’t feel complete without the companionship of an animal in your life.

  • Zero Me Time

    When you feel disconnected from yourself and what matters to you, because you care so fiercely for others.

  • Nice weather today eh!

    When you have surface friendships – you may have lots of friends, but no one who you feel really understands you or connects with you on a deeper level

 

Tip 2.. ready? Drop the Shame!

As I mentioned, loneliness is one of the most common topics I discuss with clients. However for some reason it carries with it a whole heap of shame and embarrassment, that often makes it a taboo emotion.

 

Do we think by the time we hit a certain age we should have a well-established group of friends or there is something wrong with us?

Do we think that if we are not married or in a relationship by a certain age and feel lonely that we have somehow not done life right?

Do we feel like everyone has an ‘exciting’ life and the loneliness of the mundane mean that your just a boring person?

This shame from how we think life ‘should’ look and feel versus our reality, allows loneliness to kick around for far longer than it deserves.

Before you try to address the loneliness, think about the shame you have attached to it. If you can question the reality of that shame, and shift your perspective on it – then you will be one giant leap forward to booting lonely to the kerb!

Next up… Tip 3. Toxic Comparison… it is NOT your friend!

Here it is, our annoyingly consistent friend – Toxic Comparison. It really is a royal pain in the backside for most conditions of the human heart and mind, mixed with its trusty sidekick ‘Social Media’ –this lethal combination have direct access to the Loneliness Red Button in our brains.

The truth is, every single person who has expressed the pain of loneliness to me, has had a completely different set of circumstances – married, bereaved, single, children, no children, employed, unemployed, large groups of friends, groups of acquaintances… you get the picture.

Therefore, when you hear (or feel) yourself looking in at someone else’s life, real or social media portrayed, and the thought comes “If only I had that, I wouldn’t feel lonely”, and the next thought rolls in... “I am not as interesting/lovable/funny/attractive (insert your own comparison), so I am not doing this living thing right”. Shut it down. It is not true. Those people, at some point, feel lonely too. ALL OF THEM.

Breaking the habit of comparing ourselves to others is really hard –just start small – when you notice the thoughts, write them down. It is much easier to challenge our perspective when our thoughts are out of our head and on paper. If you can reduce the amount of air time you give those thoughts, they will quieten down, over time.

Tip 4. Embrace It.

This one might sound counter intuitive, but often when we experience uncomfortable feelings, we go into full distract and ignore mode. We perhaps throw ourselves into a project, or numb ourselves with food, or go back to relationships we know don’t serve us. By sitting with difficult emotions, we can feel connected to ourselves – which in turn, makes us feel less lonely.

 Last up. Tip 5. Mantra time – repeat after me.  I am not my thoughts.

This ties in with Tip 4 – if we can learn to sit with emotions and recognise that they come and go – then we can start to detach ourselves from believing that they are part of our identity. Our brain likes to do that you see…

Reality: You fail an exam. Brain: I am a failure.

Reality: A colleague does not click with you. Brain: I am not likeable.

Reality: You struggle with your weight. Brain: I am incapable of sticking to anything

 See what I mean? It is a pest..

Try this for me. Think of emotions as clouds. They float in, set the tone for a while, and then float on. Some are more frequent, or stay for longer, and some are fleeting. But none, not one, determine who you are, as a person.

Like shame, believing our emotions are part of our identity, make them much harder to let go of. It is a key mental skill, to be able to believe that we are not our thoughts and in turn be able to pick and choose how much weight we place on them.

I hope my 5 Tips to Managing Loneliness are helpful - I would love to hear your thoughts. Don’t forget to share it with friends and family.

LB Therapy offers a range of workshops, programs and 1:1 sessions to work through these issues and support you to identify your own unique path to wellness. Please get in touch if you would like to explore these options.

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