“And this too shall pass.”
It has been several years since I’ve felt the kind of loneliness that used to cripple me. I may have bouts of mild lonely from time to time, but nothing like I experienced while in college/
Now, as soon as I recognize I am miserable, I do what I need to do (set goals, journal, repeat affirmations, attitude shift) to achieve peace again.
Everyone has felt lonely at one time or another.
And I imagine in these times of rapid technological growth it has increased. Although we are more connected electronically, we are more personally disconnected.
We are on our cell phones, iPods and iPads in every social situation imaginable. From restaurants, to concerts, to movie theaters and sports arenas.
Kids walk around with ear buds like they have been permanently implanted into their skulls. Their eyes glazed over from the copious amounts of time spent in front of tv, computer, video game and other screens. Our attention spans getting shorter and shorter from the quick sound bytes of gossip and reality tv. Our ability to spell declining from the cryptic symbols of text messaging.
We spend more time digitally connected with the people who aren’t with us than the ones who are. Four people at a restaurant each on cell phones to others who aren’t there. The server patiently waiting to take the food order. This Repetitive personal disconnection from others can lead to loneliness.
Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling in which a person experiences a strong sense of emptiness and solitude resulting from inadequate levels of social relationships. Loneliness is not to be confused with being alone. Being alone gives us the opportunity to refresh, recuperate and rejuvenate part of our lives that have become run down from the day to day activities. I don’t even consider it being alone, I consider it spending time with myself. .
Loneliness vs alone
So how do you know the difference between loneliness and being alone? It comes down to how you feel. If you are content, you are not lonely, but there are some specific signs of loneliness.
- You think your problems are so unique that other people do not understand and as a result feel that other people in the world have friends and you don’t
- You feel extremely self-conscious in everything you do
- You feel that when you do something wrong, you get extremely embarrassed
- When you are in a crowd, you feel drowned by their voices
- You feel disconnected with the crowd even though you are with them
- Feeling shy and scared of others
- Experiencing low self-esteem
- Feeling angry, defensive and critical at everything even if it is not directed at you
- Afraid of strangers and refuse to talk to engage in a hearty conversation
- Being convinced there is something wrong with you
- Feeling anxious and sad believing no one knows how miserable/isolated you feel
- Losing your capacity to be assertive’ feeling “invisible”
- Refusing to accept change and don’t want to try anything new
- Feeling as though nothing else matters and contemplating suicide
Getting to happy
The thing about loneliness is that if you deal with it, it will pass. Think about it, obsess over it and wallow in self pity and it will hang around much longer than it has to. There are a number of things that you can do to feel better.
Remind yourself that the feeling of loneliness is TEMPORARY and that in time it will pass.
Make an effort to talk to someone NEW. I remember times when I felt lonely, I would go to the mall. It was comforting just to be around other people.
Put yourself in new situations where you will meet people. Engage in activities in which you have genuine interest. Join societies like church groups, organizations and clubs.
STOP listening to lonely songs (e.g. All by Myself – Celine Dion)
OPEN yourself to others first. Don’t expect people to share their problems with a closed person.
Avoid judging new people on the basis of past relationships. See each person you meet from a fresh, new perspective. Every one is a stranger before you get to know them.
Intimate friendships usually develop gradually as people learn to share their inner feelings. Avoid rushing into intimate friendships by sharing too much or expecting that others will.
Don’t just seek romantic relationships. Platonic or even casual relationships can be extremely satisfactory.
Lead a well balanced life. Eat well, exercise and get sufficient sleep. One of the main causes of depression which leads to loneliness, is not taking care of your physical self.
Spending time alone. It will help you examine your life more closely and get to the root cause of your loneliness.
Don’t be a parasite to your friends. If you seek them for compassion and sympathy, they will be there for you. But if you repeatedly drone over and over about your problems, it becomes a nuisance and your friends will at best just entertain you.
Reflect back on good memories and count your blessings.
Learn a new skill. Success in achieving something will make you feel good about yourself. Setting goals may be just the thing you need to get out of your funk.
If you become depressed, seek professional advice.
Spend time in Prayer.
You may not be in control of everything that happens to you; however, you are in control of what you do and how you feel about it. Loneliness is no exception. So the next time you feel lonely, take solace in knowing that there is a way out.
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