Loneliness

Loneliness is very up for a lot of people at the moment, or in fact for much of their lives.

1. Realize that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. When you are feeling lonely, it is because something has triggered a memory of that feeling, not because you are in fact, isolated and alone. The brain is designed to pay attention to pain and danger, and that includes painful scary feelings; therefore loneliness gets our attention.

But then the brain tries to make sense of the feeling. Why am I feeling this way? Is it because nobody loves me? Because I am a loser? Because they are all mean? Theories about why you are feeling lonely can become confused with facts. Then it becomes a bigger problem so let’s realize that you are having this feeling and see if you can move and express it.

2. Reach out because loneliness is painful and can confuse you into thinking that you are a loser, an outcast. You might react by withdrawing into yourself, your thoughts, and your lonely feelings and this is not helpful.

Perhaps feeling loneliness might motivate us to reach out and cultivate friendship or just a call or message. Give yourself a challenge of sending a message once a week to someone.

3. Notice your self deflating thoughts. We have often created painful stories to explain our feelings when we are young, it is not unusual for children to assume that there is something wrong with them if they are not happy. If they are lonely and sad, children may assume other people don’t like them when this is not always the case.

Victims of bullying may well have fans and friends, but they often aren’t aware of it because the shame and loneliness get more attention. Habitual assumptions about social status continue into adulthood and is there to be worked on and transformed. Remember the patterns are not you and can be worked with.

4. Make a plan to address the mental and emotional habits of loneliness. Since healthy interaction with others is helpful and affirming, make some effort to reach out to others including joining a common interest group where you don’t have to think about what to talk on except for the sewing or leatherwork or art or books or whatever the interest group is.

Often joining a facilitated personal development group can also help us feel safe enough to begin to explore interaction. Yes, it is work, but it is worthwhile, just like exercising is worthwhile even when you are not feeling like it.

5. Show up. It is as easy and hard as that. If we hide then we are not showing up to possibilities.

6. Be curious, but don’t expect perfection or applause. Each time you show up is an experiment, a micro adventure in social exploration. Curiosity about others also takes your focus away from those painful feelings that tend to make you hide.

7. You have the power to offer loving kindness and generosity of spirit to all you come into contact with. It isn’t instinctual to be kind to strangers or people when you are scared of social interaction, but give it a go.

8. Be persistent even if a particular group does seem to be a dead end for you, try another. AA and AlAnon recommend that everyone try six different groups to find one that suits you best. If you are persistent, challenging the assumptions and feelings that tell you to give up and resign yourself to a life of loneliness, and showing up and being curious and kind to others in groups, the odds are in your favor.

9. Nourish friendships

Phoenix Arrien (Adapted from PsychCentral)

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