Trust me: you’re not the only one who is feeling lonely! Here, you’ll discover something a trillion times better than the usual tips for people living alone. I actually wrote that article a couple years ago. It’s fine and I even include the link below…but this is better :-)
This article is for you – and it’s for the 5,400 people who use the search term “feeling lonely” every month. That’s a lot of people, isn’t it? Maybe that fact alone will help you stop feeling so lonely. And here’s another fact about loneliness: you can have 2,000 friends on Facebook and 50 “close” friends in person…and still feel desperately and utterly alone. Living – simply being alive – is what causes feelings of loneliness.
That’s the bad news about feeling lonely – but there is lots and lots of good news here. If you feel like nobody cares about you, take heart. You aren’t as alone as you feel – and you are loved more than you can imagine.
These thoughts (also know as unexpected ways to stop feeling lonely) are inspired by an email I received in response to my most recent Blossom newsletter. My reader – let’s call her Evelyn – said:
“My problem is grief. I am 60 years old and lost my husband to cancer. We were married for 34 years, we have two grown children, wonderful human beings, who live in different places. I can’t believe he got this awful incurable disease. He took great care of himself. He even walked home from work to keep fit and lower his cholesterol. He had just retired and we looked so forward to spending more time together and traveling. I don’t know why I have been chosen to have this happen to me. All my friend still have their husbands. My husband fought so hard to live but it was a losing battle. Now here I am, alone in the home we built together. A dining room that I once filled with loved ones regularly is empty. No more laughter just me crying and trying to take care of things by myself. I can do the things we wanted to do, such as travel, but that would only make me ache for his company. I have caring friends and a daughter calls me almost daily but I am living alone and feeling lonely. Everyone else I know has a partner and busy lives. I feel like I am being punished. I never did anything wrong. I don’t deserve this.”
You know what? Here problem isn’t grief. It’s her inability to accept her life as it is. She is fighting reality, and that is making her sad, depressed, and victimized. She isn’t surrendering to her life as it is. Rather, she’s allowing herself to focus on how sad she is to be living alone and how lonely she feels.
When you’re feeling lonely, you need to look at your expectations for your life. Then, you need to change them.
7 Unexpected Ways to Stop Feeling Lonely
I didn’t have to do much research on how to cope with feeling lonely. What I found from one teeny weeny search effort was a deep well of information on how to cope with being alone when you’re old, middle-aged, or even as young as the dickens.
The first three insights about loneliness are from an article in The Guardian, called “All by myself: what Londoners say about being alone.” The link to that article is just after the three insights – it’s a really interesting article, and I hope you have time to read it.
1. Know that loneliness isn’t about other people
“Loneliness is really a state of mind and it doesn’t depend on other people,” says Angelika, 61. “It means there’s something empty in yourself. Many people are surrounded by friends and still feel lonely, but if your mind is clear and you’re positive about life, you’re not lonely. I think it’s important to connect with your own feelings; we all have times of feeling lonely and we’re scared of those feelings, so we watch telly or we drink or do anything to swallow it down.”
My reader Evelyn said she has good friends and her daughter calls her every day, but she is still desperately lonely. Why? Because she refuses to accept and flow with her life as it is. She keeps wishing her life was the way it was before her husband died. She thinks everybody is happy except her. She is holding on to her feelings of loneliness. Somehow, living alone and feeling lonely is serving a purpose for her.
Is your loneliness a state of mind? Are you scared of actually feeling how lonely you are? Do you try to drown your feelings of loneliness in wine, new shoes, or Facebook?
2. Find the tips and strategies that work for you
“I first moved to London with my boyfriend, but we broke up and that was very tricky,” said Sonja, 27. “I only knew two people here and they were always working. I had to learn to force myself to meet people, talk to people, but I’m glad I did. One of my tricks was to always make myself go out, see new places, still do activities I’d do with friends.”
That’s one of the most common tips for “how to stop feeling lonely.” Other common ways to cope with loneliness are:
- Join social groups
- Explore MeetUp
- Find the latest greatest friendship apps on your smart phone
- Go to church
- Take a class
- Meet new friends.
- Force yourself to interact with others, especially if you’re living alone
But what if you’re an introvert, like me? I love being alone. I crave solitude. I don’t want to join groups or book clubs or even go to work at an office every day (I’m a writer who is thrilled and blessed to work alone all day, every day). So, forcing myself to go out every day doesn’t work to help me stop feeling lonely
Yes, even introverts feel lonely sometimes! If you’re introverted, you’ll need different ways to cope with loneliness than extroverts will.
So, one way to stop feeling lonely right now is to figure out if you’re an introvert. Take my Are You an Introvert? A Test for Introverted Personality Traits – but only after you read through all my tips on how to cope with feelings of loneliness.
3. Avoid Facebook because it makes you feel lonelier
Social media sites such as Facebook or GooglePlus can be helpful – but some social media can actually increase feelings of loneliness.
“WhatsApp and Skype are great: Facebook is terrible,” says Sonja. “It makes you lonelier. It is really difficult to move to a new place with a new language, but it teaches you to be resourceful and independent, and you’re so much stronger after you’ve done it. That’s a strength that nobody can take away from you.”
I feel the exact same way about Facebook! I have a couple hundred friends on that site, and every time I log off I feel lonelier and unhappier than when I first logged on.
But, research doesn’t support my experience with feeling lonely and Facebook. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that lonely people spend more time on the Internet, rather than Internet use making people lonely. Their research didn’t say whether those people are living alone or not.
It doesn’t matter to me what the research says about feeling lonely, Facebook, or living alone. The fact is that I feel unhappy and alone when I’m on Facebook. I don’t even think it matters why I feel that way. The only thing that matters is that I feel lonely and unhappy after even a few minutes on Facebook, so I simply don’t log on anymore.
4. Remember that online ‘Love you lots’ messages don’t help
“There’s another kind of loneliness that’s fed to you,” says Omar, 43. “It’s what’s happening to the youth of today through social media. They see the Internet as their salvation, but they don’t know yet how to integrate it into their lives in a healthy way. They haven’t found a balance with real human relationships. If someone writes ‘love you lots’ on Facebook, but they haven’t seen you in 10 years, what does that mean? Is that love? Are they your friends? Or do they just exist on the phone? If you don’t turn up at work, you get fired. It should be the same with friendship.”
Not feeling loved may be the biggest reason for lonely feelings. Whether that lack of love is real (eg, nobody in the world cares about you because you were deposited here by a Martian) or perceived (eg, you are surrounded by friends and family who love you, but you can’t accept their love) doesn’t matter. You’re still feeling lonely.
5. Adjust your expectations
At the beginning of this article I shared Evelyn’s email. It’s filled with phrases such as “I can’t believe this happened” and “I don’t deserve this” and “all my friends have partners and busy lives.” That is pushback against reality, and it will keep her unhappy and victimized.
Instead of NOT believing the circumstances of your life, try accepting your life for what it is. Try accepting your self for who you are. We get lonely. Our hearts are hurt. We despair.
But we also know that life is good. Hot chocolate and marshmallows are delicious, warm bubble baths are comforting, dogs and cats are warm and unconditionally loving, friends care about us, groups and clubs await our presence, and last but not least God is always with us.
6. Look inwards and upwards
Yes, I said God! The bottom line is that we all feel alone and lonely sometimes. It’s built into our DNA. We were created with holes in our souls. The only thing that can fill that soul hole is our Creator.
Instead of turning to your spouse, or food, or shopping, or wine, or Facebook when you feel lonely…turn your face upward. Open your soul to the still small voice who not only created you, but loves you more than anything. The peace, love, joy, and freedom of God really does surpass all understanding. Tap into it. Better yet, JUMP into the river of life! Then let your little light shine :-)
7. Learn different ways to stop feeling lonely
In Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness and Transform Your Life, Lauren Mackler shares practical information, tools, and exercises to show you how to be independent and stand on your own two feet. Instead of feeling lonely whether or not you’re living alone, you’ll mastering the “art of aloneness.” It’s about becoming the person you were meant to be – even if you’re a widow – treating yourself well, and shedding the old beliefs and behaviors that limit your ability to live a healthy, happy, secure, and satisfying life.
Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships is Kira Asatryan provides simple and straightforward actions that will help with overcoming feelings of loneliness. It’s a practical book that will guide you toward better relationships and less loneliness in all social contexts. And, I love that she says that online friends, followers, or “likers” don’t necessarily add up to much when you crave fulfilling interaction.
Are you living alone and feeling lonely because of a recent breakup or death of a loved one? You may find it helpful to learn about overcoming fear of being alone.
What say you about loneliness?
Before we part – what is one word that describes how you feel about living alone and/or feeling lonely? Tell me below. You can write more than a word if you’d like! But sometimes it’s helpful to bundle all your feelings into a word and share how you feel.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of feeling lonely or living alone. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
The quotes about feeling lonely from Angelika, Sonja, and Omar are from All by myself: what Londoners say about being alone in The Guardian.