What is loneliness? The simple answer is that it is an emotion you have when you are alone. But actually loneliness is much more complicated than that. You may well be surrounded by people and still feel alone, mainly because those people don’t know you intimately, and perhaps they all have their own lives, which you are only a secondary part of. The answer to loneliness is not to surround yourself with more people. Many will never meet your needs. Instead, you need to identify ways to be happy in your own company, to be happy by yourself.
How do you do that? Here’s our tips.
Loneliness is a feeling, or an emotion. It tends to creep up on us when we think about the past. It is therefore important to stay rooted in the present. When you think about the past, you may stir up memories that are painful, or have negative connotations. Your body reacts to that stress, and by dwelling on those feelings, you end up in a loop that can be quite destructive. Try instead to practise mindfulness and concentrate on the here and now. What can you do that is fun, productive or rewarding? Jump to it and stop dwelling.
You may feel low when the feelings of loneliness come upon you, and this dejection can rob you of self-esteem. Don’t let it. You are a valuable human being. You don’t need anyone else around you to reinforce your feelings of worth. You could choose to be with someone, but you aren’t. That means you have high standards. You don’t want to be with just anyone. That’s a choice and a good one. Trust yourself, your opinions and your beliefs. The more you believe in yourself and value yourself, the less you will need others, and the happier you will be by yourself.
Have you ever considered how many advantages there are to living alone? Make a list of them now. Any mess you make is yours. You never have to do anyone else’s washing up or ironing. You can play your own music, and watch your favourite films. You don’t have to share your chocolate. You can leave your belongings all over the floor or the table if you want to. You can go to bed when you want and get up when you want. What would you add to this list?
People who live in solitude can use their time to do anything they like. If you’re creative, this is a huge advantage. Those who live with others may have to put up with noise distractions, or demands on their time. Even if you’ve never thought about creating before, consider it now. You can undertake a project, choosing anything you wish. There’s no-one watching to laugh at you if you fail, so what do you have to lose? Paint the picture. Build the model. Write the novel. Create something that means something to you. Utilise YouTube for ‘how-to’ videos, or join a class. Creativity offers fulfilment.
Some people are triggered by a song that comes on the radio, or there may be a photo or an object that makes them feel lonely. If you feel very low, consider removing the object from your immediate presence. If you’re strong enough, get rid of it altogether. Try and find ways to counteract the feeling, so that if a song comes on the radio, you instantly do something else that makes you feel better.
You are your own best friend, so how would you interact with a best friend who was another physical being? With kindness and compassion, surely? Now that you realise that, you understand how important it is not to run yourself down. Don’t let your inner voice be mean to you. Squash it. When you’re alone, the only person talking to you is your inner voice so it is important that you banish the negativity. Practise positive thinking.
The problem with being alone is that sometimes you end up eating all the pizza, and watching films endlessly. If you don’t do anything more productive than that with your time, you’ll soon feel jaded and alone. It is far better to keep yourself occupied with things that appeal to you and are fulfilling. Think about life and what will make you fulfilled and then go for it! If you want to, why not make plans for your future? You don’t have to wait; you can pursue your dreams immediately. It is even more important to have goals when you’re by yourself, otherwise you can drift through life doing nothing. Whatever you want to do with your life starts now. Make a plan and go for it.
The beauty about spending time with other people is that it teaches you about yourself. If you’re invited out, make an effort to show up. You don’t have to stay long, but interacting with others can offer clarity on your thoughts. It will remind you there are other people out there, if you need them. Take an interest in them, find out more about them. Ask yourself how you can bring sunshine into their lives. You’ll be a better person for it.
Social media is a wonderful thing. It connects you to other people. This is fine if they are friends and family, but be wary of making friends with strangers and investing too much time and emotion in them without ever meeting them. Many people are not what they seem.
In addition, if you have a tendency to dwell, you may find social media makes you feel lonelier because it reminds you of good times in the past, or people who have departed from your life. Or you’ll see acquaintances who seem to be living life to the full, while you aren’t. This can be destructive, so keep a reality check, and switch off your devices.
Remember we said you’re your own best friend? Best friends go out to dinner, and to movies. They take trips into town, or visit museums. They go on holiday. You can do all these things and more. You don’t have to wait to do them with anyone else.
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