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So…perhaps you’re feeling lonely. That’s totally fine. Loneliness is a natural human emotion that EVERYONE in the history of the human race has felt at some point in his or her life. So good job on being human!
Loneliness, like all emotions, comes and goes, though you should never have to feel like your life has come crashing down or put on hold just because you feel lonely. (Yep, we’ve all been there, ‘felt’ that, and bought the shirt!)
The reason you may be feeling lonely may be simple or complex, though regardless of the reasons why, there are some straightforward tips to help you overcome loneliness in the long term, and to make the most of it in the short term!
So, whether you’ve recently started feeling lonely or have felt lonely for a while, I hope you find these 5 points on loneliness useful and, please note, it is by no means exhaustive (there are only 5 points on here after all!)
Realise that feeling lonely and being alone are not directly linked
Fact 1: You can feel alone in a crowd.
Fact 2: You can feel lonely even around your loved ones.
The bottom line is this, feeling lonely and being alone are not the same things! Perhaps you’ve just forgotten (or don’t yet know) the reason why you’re alive? Loneliness can be a great, exciting door to discovering what life is all about. Furthermore, maybe you just need to make time to chat with a loved one and simply reminisce, rediscover your bond and to reaffirm your connection with them? Perhaps, even by accident, you’ve become a little bit self-absorbed and isolated yourself from human connection? Maybe you’ve just drifted into a mentality of expecting to receive from a relationship rather than to give? Or perhaps you’ve shut yourself off from people as a defence mechanism because of past hurt. If so, you need to, at your own pace, bravely make steps to becoming a little bit more vulnerable again with those who you have a logical reason to trust. Or maybe you simply need to remind yourself of the love that is all around you? For example, you could set aside time to pray and let God know you’re feeling lonely. Or you could write a list of all the people who you know care about you. You could even set aside 15 minutes or so just to reflect on people who you’ve long since forgotten about who, at various points, have shown love and care towards you. At some point every day (when you’re preferably alone!) you could look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I feel lonely but I am NOT alone!”
Allow yourself to feel lonely
We thrive on love and everyone, no matter who they are, big or small, poor or rich, extrovert or introvert, colour or creed, desires to feel known and loved. So it’s perfectly ok to feel lonely and does NOT make you weak, selfish or needy! And, just because you feel lonely, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong! Sometimes we feel lonely…just because 🙂 Give yourself a break, be kind to yourself, read a great book, invite your friend over to watch a movie, write a letter to a loved one, learn to cook a new dish, go for a walk, listen to a new audiobook, learn something new. It’s a good idea to plan your week with the expectation that you’ll probably feel lonely at some point, and so when that lonely feeling comes again, you can simply start doing all the great and productive things you’ll have planned. Just because you feel lonely doesn’t mean you can’t be productive!
Put your loneliness to work!
I like to think loneliness is a bit like fire. Fire is hot, dangerous, unpredictable, and consuming. However, fire also can purify and, when utilised properly, reaps untold benefits to the world. Loneliness is a bit like fire since it can either scold or purify you; make you bitter or make you better! Feeling lonely can either help us to become selfish or selfless and it can also certainly humble us. It helps us realise that we need others, their love, their help and their companionship. None of us can walk the road alone forever. Therefore, put to work this feeling you have—it’s a gift. One aspect of this gift is that it helps you empathize with others. Did you know that there are thousands upon thousands of elderly people—reports indicate—that go MONTHS without speaking to anyone. Put your loneliness to work. Get out there and love on this lonely world, volunteer for a charity, raise donations by baking or by signing up to run for charity (though you may have to minimise baking if you do!) Reach out a caring hand to all the other countless people around you who may feel lonely too. Allow yourself to be consumed with loving others—use your gift.
Loneliness does not define you
Even if you’ve been feeling lonely for a long time, loneliness does not define you. You are a human being with talents, skills, flaws, funny quirks, good and bad days, highs and lows and, although loneliness can often feel all-consuming, you are much more than your loneliness. Loneliness, after all, is just one human emotion. To help gain a broader perspective, it may be a good idea to write down who you really are. Write down your gifts, talents, passions, dreams and, even more importantly, write down who you are to others. For example, you can be a daughter, a granddaughter, a mother and a spouse all at the same time! You have a place in this world and your dreams are important. In short, your loneliness does NOT define you!
Be intentional with your social life
As one gets older or busier, it becomes harder and harder to consistently spend time with friends without a little planning. Unfortunately, for many, this is just a part of what life is like in the 21st Century. In light of this fact, plan your social activities a month or two in advance! For example, you could plan your next month’s social activities one evening per month. You could start off with writing up a monthly schedule with social activities at a frequency of your own choosing, and you could even write a list of people you would love to make time for this next month. By doing this, you will be giving your loved ones plenty of time in advance to plan and get back to you!
I hope this 5-point list was helpful to you and, if you have any of questions, ideas or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to comment below!