HOW TO COPE WITH LONELINESS:
1. Separate your feelings from reality.
Recognize that feeling lonely doesn’t mean you are alone. There are a handful of people who love and care for you. In the moment when you’re feeling lonely, it’s hard to remember these people and that they are there. But the truth is that they do exist and to them, you matter.
And despite the feeling that you are alone, you are most certainly not alone in how you feel or what you’re going through. There are so many other people in the world who feel just as isolated and invisible as you do. When you find yourself feeling hopeless and inadequate, remind yourself of these people and that they are right beside you, fighting your same fight.
2. Feel your feelings.
When we start feeling the pang of loneliness, our first instinct is to find some way to get rid of it. Whether that means ignoring our feelings completely, stuffing them down, or trying to numb out using unhealthy coping mechanisms, we think that by avoiding our pain we can escape it. But in doing so, we end up perpetuating our hurt and keeping ourselves stuck.
Easing the loneliness takes allowing yourself to feel your feelings. Whether that means crying, journaling about how you feel, deep breathing, or simply sitting with the emotions, give yourself permission to feel your loneliness. Don’t judge your feelings or yourself for feeling them. Acknowledge the loneliness, and let it be. Be curious about why it’s there, and instead of treating it with criticism, tend to it with compassion and kindness.
3. Embrace your alone time.
Being alone doesn’t have to be a curse. It doesn’t mean you have to sulk in bed, feel inadequate, or beat yourself up. All that it means is that in this particular moment, you are by yourself and therefore, have the opportunity for self-discovery. Being alone gives you the chance to explore new interests, do things you’re passionate about, practice self-care, recharge, and relax. Use this time to get in touch with your soul. It needs your love and attention.
4. Reach out and connect.
When we’re feeling lonely, it’s difficult to sum up the courage to ask for support. We’re scared of burdening people with our struggles, having our experience invalidated, or altogether being ignored. We use the fact that no one has checked in with us as proof that we’re invisible and insignificant. And so, we don’t reach out because we decide that no one would want to support us anyway. But by adopting these beliefs, we keep ourselves feeling isolated and alone.
The truth is that people can’t read our minds. They don’t know we’re hurting and in need of a friend unless we tell them. And they don’t know how to help unless we explain to them what we need. So instead of waiting for someone to reach out to you, make the initiative to reach out to them. Be proactive. Use your voice and assert your needs. People want to be there for you. They want to help. But they don’t know to act unless you ask and let them know how you’re feeling.
Reaching out isn’t easy and can even be scary, but by taking the risk, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to get support. If you reach out to one person and they don’t respond right away, don’t give up, and don’t take it personally. People can sometimes be busy. Just because one person isn’t available doesn’t mean no one will be.
Try other people. Leave a friend a voice mail and tell them how you’re feeling. Invite someone over. Ask to video chat. Make plans to meet up with a friend for a meal. Plan a trip to the movies or a walk at the park. The possibilities are endless. Support is available to you. You just have to give yourself permission to utilize it.
5. Remind yourself that it will pass.
In the moment, the pain of loneliness feels as though it will last forever. It feels wounding and incapacitating, and the idea of going another minute feeling this pain seems unbearable. But the truth is that like all feelings, it will pass. Maybe not this minute, maybe not for an hour or for the remainder of the night, but it will eventually subside.
Feelings are like waves. They come in strong, peek, and then fade. Loneliness is no exception. Just because you’re feeling it’s pain now doesn’t mean you will feel it’s pain forever. Breathe. In and out. Again and again, and remind yourself that this will pass. Remind yourself that you will make it through. Remind yourself that you have felt this loneliness before and survived it, and so, you can survive it today. It will pass. It always has and always will.
Just a reminder to myself for when life feels like shit, and I’m throwing the biggest self-pity party known to man.