We were created to be together, which is why you feel so lonely after losing someone you love. Here’s what to do when you’re tired of being alone, ranging from practical tips to philosophical thoughts on life. Whether you recently lost a loved one or you feel lonely in a marriage or long-term relationship, these ideas will help you reconnect with yourself.
One of my newest “She Blossoms” readers emailed me, asked how to be happy alone when a relationship ends. I don’t give advice or offer personal counseling, but I’ve been thinking about her all weekend. I don’t know her exact situation (which is why I don’t give advice!) but I know what I do when I’m tired of being alone. I’ll share what works for me.
The best way to cope when you’re lonely and tired of being alone is to reach out. You may not be able to pick up the phone or visit with friends this minute, but you’re welcome to share your story with me in the comments section below! You might be surprised at how comforted you feel after writing your thoughts down and expressing your feelings.
Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of. Take responsibility for your happiness and feelings of loneliness, and reach out for what you need.
Here’s a snippet of my reader Melissa’s email:
“It’s been a week since I broke up with my boyfriend. After four years, I caught him with another woman. We started having problems with this same girl last year. He told me he loved me and I’m who he wants to be with. He also said they are just friends and I have nothing to worry about. But little did I know it was more than friends. When I caught them he then told me to get out of his house. I’m not welcome there anymore. I’m so heartbroken. I lost friends because of him. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I’m just lost, down and depressed about being alone.”
When You’re Tired of Being Alone
It’s often helpful to get to the roots of why you feel so alone and lonely. For example, Melissa is going through the heartbreaking process of letting go of someone she loves, of coping with feelings of betrayal and disillusionment. She ended her relationship even though she was scared to be alone, and she’s grieving.
Grief always brings feelings of loneliness. When we lose a loved one, we have to face the sadness and disappointment of a broken dream. We are faced with the idea being alone for what seems like forever. Whether we chose to be alone or whether we’re forced to be alone…we’re still lonely and hurt.
Before you read through my tips on what to do when you’re tired of being alone, think about these questions:
- How long have you been facing loneliness?
- What started these feelings?
- Are you grieving something or someone you lost?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable are you being alone?
- What is the worst part of being alone? The best part?
- Who do you miss? Who do you want back in your life?
- What does “sick and tired” mean to you?
- What advice would you give Melissa about being alone?
Take time to write your answers to these questions about being alone. The more in touch you get about your experience with loneliness, the more helpful you’ll find my tips on what to do when you’re tired of feeling lonely and alone.
By the way – this morning I found a research study that said people would rather get electric shocks than be alone with their thoughts! I encourage you to forgo the shock therapy, and make time to be alone with your thoughts. Yes, it’ll hurt. But it will heal.
Sign up for my free weekly "She Blossoms" newsletter
1. Learn the difference between “being alone” and “loneliness”
I love being alone and I rarely feel lonely. Good thing, because as a writer I’m alone a lot! I’ve learned that for me the difference between “being alone” and “loneliness” is that I often feel much lonelier in a group of women than I do when I’m by myself.
In How to Cope With Being Alone When You Feel Lonely, life coach and author Martha Beck describes three types of loneliness:
- Separation loneliness, which results from being physically distant from family and friends;
- Absolute loneliness, resulting from the belief that nobody understands – nor do they want to; and
- Existential loneliness, which is what Beck calls “a bedrock fact of the human condition: the hollowness we feel when we realize no one can help us face the moments when we are most bereft.”
What type of loneliness do you feel? The first type is about “being alone” physically. The other two types are about feeling lonely emotionally and spiritually. I most often struggle with the third type of loneliness. Existential. For me, it used to appear in questions like “why am I here?” and “What is the meaning of life?” Luckily, I discovered that God is why I am here (and why you are here, too) and that He is the meaning of a healthy, peaceful, joyful, free life.
2. Give yourself time to grieve
Even if you haven’t lost a loved one, you may feel sad and depressed about the end of something.
Maybe you discovered something new and disappointing about your parents, or you realized that you really don’t like the job you’ve had for years.
Grief isn’t just reserved for death or breakups. It’s for the loss of anything you once held dear. You might grieve the loss of your favorite blue sweater because of what it represented to you, or a favorite shop in your community because of the positive associations you have with it.
Grief and being alone are woven together. So what do you do when you’re lonely and tired of being alone? Allow yourself the time and energy it takes to go through the grieving process. Give yourself time to heal.
3. Reconsider how much Facebook you “consume”
In one of my other blog posts about loneliness (4 Meaningful Ways to Hold on to Hope When You’re Lonely), I shared that social media – Facebook especially – makes me feel incredibly lonesome. I drown in all three types of loneliness when I’m on Facebook, so I avoid it whenever possible. Which is all the time. Except for my new habit of posting my Blossom newsletter blurb on my personal Facebook page, because it most closely represents my life today. But when I’m tired of being alone, the last thing I’d ever do is log on to Facebook.
Womenshealth.gov has an excellent summary of why and how social media makes us feel more lonely and alone: “A recent article encouraged people to avoid looking at social media during the holidays. Pictures can be misleading and make it look like people are having a lot more fun than they actually are. Social media allows people to share their best moments, which aren’t always an accurate representation of everyday life. Try to remember that your friend with the “perfect” life has bad times, too — they just don’t share those pictures.” – from Beat the Holiday Blues.
How does Facebook affect you? Pay attention to how you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually after your time on Facebook. Do you feel less lonely and tired of being alone? Now you know what you need to do. But will you do it?
4. Listen to what the still, small voice is telling you
Maybe you’re tired of being lonely and alone because you haven’t been listening to the still small voice inside of you. Deep down, you know what is causing your loneliness. And you know what to do about feeling less lonely and alone. Sometimes the problem is finding the motivation to reach out and connect, because we fall into slumps that are hard to get out of.
What advice would you give yourself about being alone? Write down five things to do – and write to yourself in the third person. For example, if you were Melissa you might write, “Melissa, you’re grieving the breakup of a four year relationship. Here’s what you’re feeling, and here’s what you need to do about it….” Let that still small voice inside of you do all the talking, and start taking steps forward.
5. Learn your level of “loneliness tolerance”
On How to Cope With Being Alone, I share that my tips for being alone are easier for me partly because of my introverted personality traits. And, partly because I didn’t get married until I was 35 years old. I’ve never lived with a boyfriend, never had a long-term love relationship outside of my marriage. I lived in Africa for three years and traveled to many distant parts of the world…all by myself.
I like being alone. I prefer being married, but I would be happy single. Maybe this is what makes my marriage healthy and strong – I don’t need my husband, but I do love and appreciate him so much! He is a gift from God, a blessing….but I would find many blessings in life if I wasn’t married. How do I know this? Because we can’t have kids, and I am incredibly, richly happy. I love life! Why? Because of God. No other reason. Nothing comes close.
If you can get to this place – of loving and appreciating your life for what it is right now, of connecting to God and developing a relationship with Jesus – you don’t have to fear being alone. Why? Because you will never be alone again.
6. Take heart, for you won’t always be alone and lonely
Research from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that older adults have different – and more positive responses – than young adults about feelings such as serenity, sadness and being alone.
It seems that the older you are, the happier you are about being alone. Elderly people may feel sick and tired, but it’s not because they’re alone.
“Older adults report feeling more serenity than younger persons,” says associate professor Rebecca Ready, who works in the department of psychological and brain sciences. “They also have a richer concept of what it means to feel serene than younger persons.”
The older adults in this research study associated more positive emotional terms with serene, such as cheerful, happy and joyful, than did younger people. This is because older adults report more calming positive emotions than younger people and have a broader concept of what it means to be serene.
This study also found that younger adults associated more self-deprecating terms with feeling sad and lonely, such as being ashamed of themselves, dissatisfied with themselves, angry and disgusted with themselves. Maybe it has something to do with social media sites such as Facebook! The full article, called Older adults have their own perspectives on sadness, loneliness and serenity has been published in the Aging and Mental Health Journal.
Here’s a summary of the 6 things to do when you’re tired of being alone:
- Learn the difference between “being alone” and “loneliness”
- Give yourself time to grieve
- Reconsider how much Facebook you consume
- Listen to what the still, small voice is telling you
- Learn your level of “loneliness tolerance”
- Take heart, for you won’t always be alone and lonely
The truth is you don’t need my advice on what to do about the loneliness of being alone. You need YOUR advice. Better yet, you need to listen to the still small voice that has all the answers. You are not alone, even though you may be going through the loneliest period of your whole life.
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! Share your experience and tips. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you sort through your feelings.