Do you feel alone in the midst of a crowd? Do you feel disconnected and very much isolated even when in the same room with people who love you? Do you feel this deep longing inside to be with someone who really understands you? Do you feel an insatiable desire to be attached to someone? Do you feel like no one really cares about you? Do you feel down because you feel like there’s never anyone who calls or messages you to go out? Do you feel hurt because you feel that everyone has moved on with their personal relationships and you haven’t?
The truth is this. You probably haven’t realised it. You might also be denying it to yourself. Bottom line is, you are probably suffering from loneliness. Loneliness is a major and realistic issue. There are millions around the world who lead a lonely life. We’re not talking about being alone for some time. We’re talking about an old feeling that most of us go through at some point in our lives. For some, it feels like forever – like it is the only companion they have in life.
People feel lonely for many reasons. Some simply feel like they cannot find anyone who would ‘make their life complete’. In other words, they long for a partner and while for some this might sound a little bit too over-dramatic, the overwhelming feeling that these people go through is indescribable. We’ve all been there, let’s admit it.
Others feel abandoned by a close friend when that friend fell in love, giving their new partner the attention they used to have. For some, it is a silent plague that they go alone through life with – they have it all – friends, a fantastic partner, a good childhood and a great career. But deep down, there is this longing for something more. And the problem arises when it dawns on them that they don’t know what it is. Others feel that they have kids and a family, yet they feel like no one really understands them. They cannot talk to their spouses, fearing that they’d leave them. And they become entangled between what they really feel and their obligations to be a good father and husband or good mother and wife. In other words, loneliness is all about feeling empty, unwanted and alone deep inside. What is even worse is when the guilt starts kicking in. “Why do I feel like this? What is wrong with me? Am I being selfish?” Feeling lonely should not make you feel guilty. You need to accept and work on it.
While there is no single cause of loneliness, some feel lonely because of recent changes in their lives: the death of a spouse, a break up, a divorce, moving to a new neighbourhood, starting a new job in a new place, children having moved out of the house, and seeing people getting old around them. All of these are known as ‘phases’ or ‘chapters’ in one’s life and they can be dealt with through time and determination.
There are other causes of loneliness: depression, panic attacks, lack of self-esteem and self-confidence issues, post physical or emotional bullying trauma, low social skills, getting old, a serious illness that may cause a sense of unworthiness, discontentment with the way one looks and also a lack of friends. No matter what one goes through, loneliness is not an easy opponent to defeat. Yet it is not an impossible one to challenge.
First thing of all, accept your loneliness. It takes pride to admit it to yourself. Not everyone admits it, some even get snappy about it. But if you don’t know if you’re lonely or not, record yourself and at the end of the day read the transcript. If you listen very closely to your talking and thinking, you might see certain patterns and realise that there is an element of loneliness trickling out of your words, thoughts and behaviour.
If you realise and accept that you might be a little lonely, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. You cannot simply ‘erase & forget’ that you have a situation which is causing your loneliness or that you can ‘move on’ instantly after a breakup. With time, you can learn to face the situation and deal with it. It might seem impossible right now but sometimes, you have no choice but to simply let it pass and move on.
Know that this might be a page, a paragraph or a whole chapter in your life. But it’s not the whole book. Therefore, have heart and instead of just thinking about it, do things which can help you put your focus on possibilities and opportunities rather than sinking deeper into misery. I know, it’s not easy. Of course it isn’t especially if your loneliness stems from the fact that you have recently ended up alone because of a break up and all of your friends seem to be cosy with their loved ones on a Sunday afternoon. It’s even worse when you have never really had the skills to make new friends or relate to people. I know. It’s hard changing your life but the rough times will only go away if you take on every opportunity that comes your way.
I remember watching the movie Yes Man! with Jim Carrey playing the part of a man who is bored and lonely and ends up spicing up his life by saying ‘yes’ to opportunities. Although a little bit exaggerated and I highly recommend that you do not say ‘yes’ to everything, it is partially true. And this what you have to do: say ‘yes’ (responsibly and maturely) when an opportunity arises. If a colleague invites you over to a house party – just say yes and go. You might meet new people. If someone says that they’re going shopping on Saturday, ask them if they’d like you to join them. If they say ‘yes’, then go for it. You may tell them that you’ve seen this fantastic outfit and you’re going to be there anyway and invite them to meet up for lunch after the shopping spree.
You can also try out new activities and apart from the thrill of trying out and achieving something new, you’ll make new friends. While you’re there, make sure you’re not too clingy as you’ll scare people away. Don’t act as if this is a ‘now or never’ situation. Let people get to know you. Don’t be too pushy. Asking them if they’d like to come over for a drink to your place afterwards is ok, but if you see that they are reluctant or too tired, let them be. Don’t make yourself look desperate. If you feel like you need a makeover to make you feel better, then do so. Find someone who can help you change your wardrobe, change the colour of your hair or get a new hair-do and so on.
That’s not enough though. Make sure that you hit the mind gym and see what the positives are about you and work on those. Help people learn how to appreciate your skills and make a difference in their lives. But first, become aware of how much of a difference you DO actually make in your life and the surroundings. Haven’t you realised that your presence makes a difference? Haven’t you realised that you have skills and gifts within you? Why do you think that nobody wants you? – What makes you feel that?
We all go through this ‘unwanted’ phase in life but you need to empower yourself with positive messages. You’re making use of the greatest and most important tool you’ll need in life: self-belief and worthiness. Why? Because you DESERVE to love yourself. And you have every right and obligation to go for more in life. It might mean that you need to get some counselling to help you sort it out (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!) or that you might have to face reality a bit more.
Be proactive, ask yourself ‘What can I do to make more friends? What can I do to make myself more interesting? What dreams do I have to achieve to become happier? What has failed me to be at this stage in my life? What have I done that has made me choose this? What mistakes have I made in the past that I can learn from and not repeat? And yes, the answer might not be quite clear to you, but it is there. There’s always a solution to everything.
If you’re crying over a spouse or partner who has passed away, it does not mean that you deny the pain. No, grieving must be given its place. In time, you can learn to be at peace with the situation but there are no short cuts. I wish I could tell you that it’s going to be easy. But it’s not like that. It needs time, determination and strength.
What if your partner has left you? You must learn to forgive and move on by letting go of your negative emotions attached to this person or situation. Is that easy? No. Does it happen overnight? No. It’s a process. We all hate processes.
Avoid a quick fix solution like taking drugs or making a fool of yourself with alcohol. Don’t sleep around. Surround yourself with people and things that make you feel better. Find the meaning of life in every situation. Don’t let loneliness turn into depression. Make sure you monitor how you feel. Let people know (in the right doses) what you’re going through, but then do something about it.
At times, you may feel that people are abandoning you. They are not. It’s time for you to start working on yourself and get rid of that loneliness. It is important to accept that life has its ups and downs and that you can make it through life but you should decide to make it interesting and worth living.
I know it’s not easy. I’ve been there. My life is not perfect. But I’m enjoying it. I have my moments of loneliness too, but I now know that it is part of life and I can only make it better if I work on it. And what keeps me going? Well, I know that if there’s no appetite for better delicacies in life, it would be really sad to just settle for one single plate when I can taste all of the exotic and mouth-watering varieties that a life’s buffet can offer me. I’m not settling for a starter. I’m going for the all-inclusive buffet of life. Be strong. There is so much you can offer. Your life can be moulded in whichever way you want it to be like. You’re the sculptor. Grab those tools and start chipping away your new life! Today.