While loneliness can be a common human emotion it is however, a complex and unique experience to each individual. Most of us will feel lonely at some point during our lifetime, but it is when it starts to define us and have a significant impact on our well-being, that it becomes a problem.
Loneliness makes you feel emotionally isolated, like you’re disconnected and don’t belong.
Some may choose to be on their own and live quite happily with very little social contact. There is a big difference between solitude – being alone – and feeling lonely. Loneliness can have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if this feeling is enduring. At the very least, it is an unpleasant feeling we have when there is a mismatch between the social relationships we desire and the ones we have.
You’re Not Alone
It can be quite normal to experience episodes of loneliness and it’s important to normalise this. It can occur at any time in our life. It is our bodies drive toward social interaction, the desire to make new friends and connections, to meet like minded people who share our interests and passions. Human beings are naturally social creatures, so being lonely isn’t good for us physically or mentally.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are currently on the increase. Unfortunately it is an emotion that carries with it a stigma, so people are often quite reluctant to admit to it. But we can only begin to help one another if we feel able to understand, recognise and talk about it. It’s not a feeling that is about someone’s personality.
There are many varied contributing factors to loneliness. It’s important to realize that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. So just start by understanding that you are having this feeling and accept it without over reacting.
Anticipation or acceptance of our loneliness can help us to take positive action. By recognizing the feeling it can help to motivate us to reach out to others, initiate conversation and cultivate friendships. These days there are more tools than ever before to find like minded people with shared interests. This makes it so much easier to identify groups with which you have something in common.
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the feelings and needs of others. It helps you to pay less attention to your own lonely thoughts and feelings. You could even turn your need for social interaction into a business opportunity and get involved with online friendships. People who pay to be friends with others usually do so for the companionship. This arrangement could also afford you both the opportunity to work on the skills that will help you in the the long-term.
Volunteering is another great way to meet new people. When you’re feeling isolated it helps you get out into the world and connect you with the community around you. Draw on skills and interests you have developed over your lifetime. Not only will you meet new people but you will feel useful too.
A Positive Attitude
Don’t expect rejection, focus on positive thoughts and attitudes. Recognize that your loneliness is just a sign that something needs to change. It will require a conscious effort on your part, but who knows you might surprise yourself.