- 10 Ways To Survive Loneliness: Lessons I Learned From Being Alone
- This was perhaps the most important method I used to overcome my loneliness.
- Realize that you can have fun alone, and that you don’t need to rely on others to make you happy
- 2. Learn to laugh again
- When you really think about it, it’s pitiful how much we rely on others to make us happy
- 3. Have intimate time, alone
- My definition of intimate time is spending quality time with yourself, just with a friend, or someone you love
- Living with Loneliness
10 Ways To Survive Loneliness: Lessons I Learned From Being Alone
It stifles and strangles you, pulling you under a heavy blanket of depression, pervading all that you see.
Loneliness causes you to filter life through a lens of desolation and deep despair. Your spirit becomes so heavy with the weight of your isolation that you often feel laying down, and dying.
I know. I’ve been there many times.
Whether you feel loneliness in a crowd, in your marriage, in your workplace, friend circle, religion, culture or simply by yourself, there is hope.
I’ve felt alone for many years of my life, either because of my temperament, or the religion that was imposed on me since birth, which taught that outsiders were “evil”, causing me to distance myself from everyone. Since then, I’ve left religion, but still find it difficult connecting with people.
While I still feel an Outsider, in the year prior to meeting Sol, I discovered how to be alone but not feel lonely.
I want to share with you today how exactly I did this.
Today, I want to share with you how I turned my desert of loneliness into a garden of Solitude.
This was perhaps the most important method I used to overcome my loneliness.
When we lose friends or family members, or simply drift away from everyone around us, we tend to lose all sense of fun and playfulness, preferring to wallow in our misery instead.
Realize that you can have fun alone, and that you don’t need to rely on others to make you happy
The person who can enjoy life alone can never have happiness taken away from them – to truly understand this is liberating!
I started by sticking flyers about diarrhea all over the walls and mirrors of a woman’s bathroom. I never knew fecal matter could be so freeing! Start by doing something small that you enjoy. If you used to being wacky, be wacky. If you used to being reckless, be reckless. Take small steps first.
Regain what you have lost, by yourself. You will be a stronger and better person that way. Why? Because you won’t rely on, or use, other people for your entertainment.
2. Learn to laugh again
As you may know, laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. But what happens when you’re lonely? Well, chances are, you don’t laugh. At all. I didn’t.
When you really think about it, it’s pitiful how much we rely on others to make us happy
That’s why learning how to laugh again, by yourself is so important. It empowers you, and once again, it allows you to not use other people for your entertainment. They’re not vending machines after all!
If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, try putting on a funny film. Not only does it take your focus away from yourself and your misery, but it reboots those endorphins in your brain again. Funny pictures can also help, those found on this website. Thank god for LOLCats.
3. Have intimate time, alone
I realize how intimidating that sounds. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you have a downstairs rendezvous or anything (although that could help).
My definition of intimate time is spending quality time with yourself, just with a friend, or someone you love
I did this by spending a few minutes every day looking at myself in a mirror. I understand how bizarre that sounds, but staring deeply into your eyes and smiling every day really makes you feel happy.
One result of this strange practice of mine was increased self-acceptance. Every day we tend to look at ourselves in mirrors to pamper and preen, but only superficially. But have you ever stopped to stare at yourself – earnestly? Try it, and you may be blown away at how much self-awareness you develop.
Living with Loneliness
Source: Max kegfire/Shutterstock
Have you had the experience of feeling lonely, there is no one around and no one to talk to, as you sink into a state of sadness or anxiety that you fear you will never get over? Does such a feeling overwhelm you at times? If you've had such feelings of loneliness, you are far from alone. Loneliness is one of the most common, if unpleasant emotions that millions of people experience. For some, it may be a passing emotion. For others, it’s a recurring sense of desperation and sadness. But for all of us, it is part of being human.
Loneliness can lead to excessive drinking or binge eating, to suppress those unpleasant feelings. It can lead to depression and rumination, as you dwell on the question, “Why am I alone?” It can also lead to hopelessness. But having a strategy to deal with loneliness can be an important safeguard against depression, substance abuse, or even making bad choices for partners.
Let’s take a look at seven ways you can cope with feelings of loneliness:
1. Normalize loneliness.
As John Cacioppo, a researcher in the field of loneliness, points out, loneliness is on the rise — from 11 percent to 20 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to 40 percent to 45 percent in 2010. So you are not alone in feeling lonely.
Perhaps the recent breakdown of connectedness can be related to the decline of family connections, higher divorce rates, people moving more frequently, the decline of church attendance, or declining participation in organizations the PTA and labor unions.
As Harvard social historian Robert Putnam illustrated in his book, Bowling Alone, people in the 1950s would participate in things bowling leagues, but now they bowl alone. As widespread and increasingly frequent loneliness is, we must recognize that we need to have strategies for coping with it.
2. Relate loneliness to your values of connection.
It may sound invalidating, but we can also ask, “What is loneliness good for?” I would suggest that loneliness reminds us of the value of connection, intimacy, or simply sharing experiences with others.
We evolved to live in smaller communities with daily face-to-face contact — and shared child-rearing.
That has changed for most people, but loneliness may remind you of the fact that you value connecting with other people, and that this value is an important part of being human. Don’t give up on connection when you are feeling lonely.
3. Have a plan.
The first part of developing a plan is to identify your “trouble times” for loneliness. It might be evenings, weekends, or holidays. Have a plan in advance for these times.
On weekends you might make plans with friends or family; you might go to museums, concerts, bike rides, guided walks, church or synagogue events, or connect with people on Meetup.com or other sites. I thinking of turning yourself into a tourist for a day or a night.
Or if your worrisome time is at night, have a plan for a couple of nights each week when you might connect with someone; it could simply be on Skype. Plan some videos to watch, music to listen to, attend a yoga class, join a health club, take up a hobby.
A friend of mine, who is incredibly resilient, took up the guitar and swimming — separately — at the age of 68. He experiences great enthusiasm with these activities. What's your plan?
4. You don’t need someone else to do something rewarding.
So often people will say, “I have no one to do things with.” You don’t need someone else to go to the movies, go for a walk, work out, go to a concert, or take up a new hobby. Some people say, “I feel self-conscious doing these things by myself.
” Try to identify what those self-conscious thoughts are — they may be things , “People will see me alone and think that I am pathetic.
” But how do you know what others think? And even if they did think that, why should you care? Maybe doing things alone means you are independent, empowered, and free.
In fact, doing something by yourself might actually be a good way to meet new people.
Imagine that you are at a museum or bookstore, and you start talking to someone next to you about a painting or a book. Or imagine that you are taking a cooking or yoga class and start talking to people.
Empower yourself by getting out and realizing that you don’t need someone else to do things with. You have yourself.
5. Identify your loneliness thoughts.
Write down some of the thoughts that you have when you are lonely. These might include thoughts those above, or the following:
- I will always be alone.
- If I am alone, I have to feel lonely and unhappy.
- I must be a loser, because I am alone.
- I can’t stand feeling lonely.
If you have these or other negative thoughts, then you are millions of other people who feel stopped in their tracks by loneliness. But you can try some of these rational and helpful responses:
- You are only alone for these moments (minutes, hours), and you will be interacting with other people soon — at work, waiting in line, talking to a friend, or participating in an activity. You are not on a deserted island.
- Just because you are alone doesn’t mean that you have to feel sad and lonely. You can look at it as an opportunity to do some things that you . You might enjoy having the peace to read something you , listen to your own music, cook your favorite food, watch your favorite movie, or visit a museum at your own pace.
- The idea that you are a “loser” because you are alone makes no sense: Everyone is alone at some time. And as recent research shows, about 45 percent of people experience loneliness. Being alone is a situation — and situations change.
- The idea that you cannot stand being alone also doesn’t make sense. It may be true that you don’t being alone, but it’s the way you relate to it that matters. If you relate to loneliness with protest, anger, desperation, or defeat, then it will be unpleasant. It might be more helpful to relate to it with the idea that feeling lonely or being alone comes and goes and that it is something we all cope with. Accepting what is might be better than catastrophizing something we all experience.
6. Direct compassion and tenderness toward yourself.
Rather than thinking that you need to rely on others for love, acceptance, and compassion, you might direct these thoughts and feelings toward yourself.
This can include acts of lovingkindness toward yourself such as making yourself a healthful treat or buying yourself a simple gift; directing loving thoughts toward yourself by giving yourself support for being who you are and by being your own best friend; and by recalling a loving person from your childhood (your mother, grandmother, father, aunt) whom you recall showing tenderness toward you. Taking care of yourself and soothing yourself is a wonderful antidote for loneliness.
7. Build a community of connectedness.
We all need some connection with other people — or even animals. So many people — friends, family, patients — have told me how much love and connection they experience with their pets.
So consider getting a cat or a dog. Or go to your local animal shelter and offer to volunteer. One woman I know volunteered for several months at a shelter, “socializing the kittens.
” Talk about great work to have.
Another way of connecting is to do volunteer work, because we all need to be needed. You can search online in your community for volunteer organizations that correspond to your interests. Perhaps it’s working with kids, older people, cancer patients, or the poor. I doubt that you will feel lonely when you are showing kindness toward someone.
And make plans to see people. (This includes using social media.) Just because you haven’t been in contact much lately doesn’t mean you can’t take the initiative. Or join organizations where people share your interests — political, cultural, religious, or social.
Being alone doesn’t mean you have to feel lonely. And feeling lonely doesn’t mean that you have to feel that way indefinitely. All emotions pass, depending on what you're thinking and what you're doing.
It’s up to you.