There’s a lot of talk about loneliness these days. It used to be an unfortunate accompaniment to old age, something that showed up overnight with the death of a loved one or gradually, as all your friends began to retire and move away. Now, however, loneliness doesn’t have those sorts of boundaries and can infiltrate any time or any space. This is one of the reasons it’s essential for anyone suffering with it, to be honest with themselves. Burying it doesn’t work and neither does hoping it’ll just sort itself out.
Young, old, dating or single, if you’re feeling lonely, here are the things you can try.
Figure out when the loneliness began
Yes, it’s possible there’s been a dramatic change in your life, one that led to an overnight feeling of loneliness, but it’s not always that clear cut. Sitting down, with yourself or someone else, and figuring out exactly when these feelings started to creep in, can help with working on a solution. Knowledge is power, so don’t only feel the loneliness, investigate it.
Don’t be embarrassed
As odd as it sounds, embarrassment can be and is often part of our comfort zone. Shyness, pride, or whatever your own version, is a feeling we recognise even if we don’t like it. It stops us from doing things that are alien, things that may change our situation – such as joining clubs, or being truthful with friends about our how we’re really getting on. If you want to feel a different way, do something new or long forgotten.
Don’t judge yourself
Loneliness isn’t always about how many people you have around you and when. You can be a magnificent social butterfly but still extremely lonely on the inside, just as people who are reclusive or introvert may never feel lonely a day in their lives. There are no ‘shoulds’ when it comes to this, so if you feel lonely don’t fall into the trap of trying to justify it to yourself, or anyone else.
Know there are options
There is always a group you can join, offline or online. There’s also advice and help that can be given by all sorts of professionals, from your doctor to a therapist. This is especially useful if there’s any element of depression associated with how you’re feeling. If an option doesn’t seem overwhelmingly appealing, try it anyway. Don’t reject help outright if there’s the slightest chance of it having an impact.
Please, don’t settle
One of the top reasons for people staying in bad relationships is that they don’t want to be alone. They would rather be with someone than no one and this is a really bad idea. This method of combating loneliness is just as unadvisable as starting a relationship because you have nothing better to do. It’s a disservice to you and the person you’re with.
Write a list of things that make you feel better
In the moment of feeling low there’s often the accompaniment of helplessness, which can make it very hard to see a way out. If you have a list of tried and tested methods to show yourself that you are loved, healthy and able to have good experiences, it can make a world of difference. Keep the list accessible, never forget the options you have available and add to them when you find more things that soothe. Not everything will work all the time, but all of them may work some of the time.
Try new things
This is worth mentioning multiple times, simply because it’s so easy to stick with what you know, thinking that you know best. Yes, you may have spent a lifetime living a certain way, or going to particular places – but this doesn’t mean you can’t change and open up a whole new world to yourself. Use your loneliness as a catalyst to engage in ways you never have before, let it become a doorway to new things rather than a brick wall.
Know that dating won’t necessarily solve your core problem
There are people in relationships who have a really hard time, who are unhappy and also feel lonely. You need to remember this, if you think dating is the cure-all to your loneliness. Don’t get into a relationship hoping someone will fix you.