Part One of Three:
Finding Head Space
1Know what loneliness means to you. Many people honestly believe that they are lonely because they’re single and that their loneliness could go away if they found a relationship. Others believe they’re lonely because it’s something inherent about them. Some can’t differentiate being alone from being lonely. What is this specific feeling you have?
Loneliness is not the same as being a private person or being a loner. It’s also not the same as being popular or surrounded by people! It’s easy to be surrounded by others and still feel lonely. After all, it’s about the quality of your interactions and very little else. If you had to qualify this feeling, what is it like and where does it stem from?
2Identify your type of loneliness. It can take on a few different forms and it manifests differently in each person. For some people it’s an inkling that comes and goes intermittently, for others it’s strong but short-lived, but the reasoning is different for everyone . Here’s three different, yet common, reasons for loneliness:
Separation loneliness. Either you’ve recently moved, the social part of your life has been turned on its head, or you’re grieving the loss of a very close, loved one. This is the most short-term, generally.
Absolute loneliness. This is similar to depression; you believe that others aren’t interested in you or don’t understand, and they don’t want to, either.
Existential loneliness. This is where you believe that loneliness is inescapable due to the human condition. You believe that we’re all alone and it’s just a fact of life. No one and no relationship can change that.
3Realize it’s a feeling. Step one to combating this is knowing that this feeling is just a feeling. It is not fact and therefore it is not permanent. It is ephemeral. Proverbially speaking, “this too shall pass.” It has nothing to do with you as a social creature and everything to do with those little neurons in your head firing in an unfortunate, yet changeable, way. We can easily attack those and get them on a better track.
You decide what you make of your situation, ultimately. Take this as an opportunity to better yourself, giving your reflective fuel to become someone you’d never otherwise be able to become. This feeling can give you drive. If you’re going to have this emotion, might as well grab it by the horns! You did fabricate it and all. You! No one else. It’s all yours.
4Take an objective look at your thinking. True facts: lonely people tend to interpret situations more negatively. When Bill, your coworker gives you the cold shoulder one morning, you tend to think he’s mad at you. Turns out Sally saw the same behavior toward her and just assumed Bill was having a bad day, which he was. The reality you live is the one you make in your head, you know?
Do you tend to assume the worst of situations and people? Do you automatically revert to negative patterns of thinking? Think of a time when you assumed something — when you took a friend’s comment the wrong way, or when you walked into a group and just stayed on the side, feeling like an outcast in that group. Can you see how some of that is a result of negative thought patterns?
5Stop thinking in terms of hard facts. Because there’s no such thing in this domain! Thinking, “I won’t meet anyone I like,” will not get you anywhere. You don’t know this! Nothing is hard and fast here. Nothing. Because you could go somewhere tomorrow and meet a brand new group of friends you adore. You could. But only if you realize you could.