Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

PSYCHOLOGY, MENTAL HEALTH

Effective Tips For Dealing With Loneliness

Because we all need someone to talk to once in a while

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

Have you ever been perfectly happy on your own, absorbed in a task? On the other hand, have there been times where you felt lonely in a crowd?

Me too. From time to time, everyone feels lonely.

But What Is Loneliness?

Psychologically speaking, loneliness is a complex emotion and mental state. It can be attributed to many factors, however, at its core, loneliness is a survival mechanism. In essence, it’s a painful and scary feeling of being abandoned.

Ever heard a dog whimper, or a toddler cry because it’s been left alone (sometimes for an instant)? You guessed it, that’s their survival mechanism kicking in.

As adults, things are a bit more complex.

Since we’ve experienced it multiple times before, we don’t perceive loneliness in the same way a child does. Rather than as a reaction to our immediate surroundings, we tend to feel lonely when we are reminded of times of isolation, or in anticipation of the future.

We don’t like the idea of being left out of things, even if there’s a good reason or logical explanation for it.

Feeling lonely can be pretty confusing and can make you see things through a blurred perception. Minor things like not being invited to a party can appear to be major issues.

Here are some tips that can help recognize loneliness, as well as dealt with it in the best possible way.

Acknowledging The Feeling

One of the healthiest things you can do when feeling lonely is acknowledging it.

Your perception is being altered by a feeling, not a fact. You aren’t really isolated and alone, it’s just a trick your emotions are playing on you.This is particularly true when you might feel lonely despite being surrounded by people.

Our brains are designed to pay attention to pain and perceived dangers — this includes feeling isolated. This innate reaction makes loneliness hard to ignore. Mentally, we try and make sense of the feeling, coming up with a number of theories:

Why am I feeling this way?

Is it because nobody loves me?

Is it because I annoy people?

Is everyone just being mean?

Unfortunately, our minds aren’t equipped with the best tools for distinguishing fact from theory. Because of this, we feel confused and alone.

Simply realizing that you are dealing with an emotion rather than a fact is the first step to keeping yourself from overreacting. Once a rational, not emotional mindset is established, loneliness can be tackled like any other challenge.

Reaching Out To Friends

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle.

The more you feel like an outcast, the harder it can be to reach out to those around you. The immediate reaction is to withdraw into yourself, for fear of being ‘rejected’ once more.

As hard as it may be (and believe me, I know it is), it’s essential that this feeling is overcome.

We need to train ourselves to reach out to others whenever we anticipate feeling lonely. Getting into this routine is far from easy, but it’s also one of the healthiest ways of dealing with loneliness. Subconsciously, reaching out encourages us to cultivate friendships, which in turn won’t leave us feeling sad or alone.

Understanding Your Emotional Baggage

Admittedly, your background and past experiences play a large part here.

People who have been through intense trauma, or been excessively bullied in the past may find loneliness particularly challenging to overcome.

Despite the fact they may have plenty of friends, they often aren’t aware of it. A metaphoric wall of shame and loneliness can appear, limiting one’s ability to reach out. Habitually assuming others have a higher social status (even though this is rarely the case) can make the situation worse.

For this reason, it’s essential to be aware of past experiences.

Whenever I feel lonely, I tend to look back and try to pinpoint a time in my life where I felt the same way.

Looking back at past experiences gives us insight, allowing us to knock down any emotional walls we might have inadvertently built around ourselves.

Having A Mental Plan

I used to (and occasionally still do) suffer from anxiety when overwhelmed with work. For this reason, I came up with a mental plan to run to whenever I feel things getting out of hand.

The same theory can be applied to loneliness. Having some kind of ground to run towards makes a big difference and prevents us from feeling lost.

If left unchecked, loneliness can develop into an emotional habit. The best cure for it? Regular healthy interaction with friends.

Reaching out to others, initiating conversations, and maintaining social relationships is the best way forward. Yes, it involves time and effort, but it is worthwhile in the long run.

Think of it in the same way exercising is worthwhile, even when you're feeling tired or lazy.

Focus On The Feelings Of Others

Admittedly, I didn’t believe this one at first, however, there’s a lot of truth behind it.

Whenever you’re feeling lonely, your mind’s immediate reaction is to focus more on the feeling. Instead, train yourself to do just the opposite.

By focusing on other people’s feelings or needs, you will subconsciously dismiss your own strong emotions.

Rather than spending a day alone, brooding over your own feelings, try to reach out to others and engage with them in a way that is meaningful. Maybe focus on a common interest you may share with them.

Even if you don’t have anyone in your immediate vicinity, little things like helping someone in the street can make a huge difference to your morale. It’s all about wishing positive things to those around you.

Sound a bit cliché?

Well, it might be, but there’s no denying the fact that genuine positivity is contagious. The more you spread it, the better you’ll feel, even if you have to remind yourself to do it sometimes.

Keep Your Expectations Low

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with having high expectations (in fact, in some cases it’s a good thing), be sure to keep your expectations low when interacting with others.

Never expect others to reach back out to you, or to applaud your efforts. Reach out only because you feel it’s the right thing to do. Each meeting should be an experiment in bonding — you can never be sure of your emotions or how you (or they) will react.

As a general rule, the more interest you show in others, the more they will be attracted to you. This may mean you get attention in return, but you shouldn’t expect this.

Let things take their own course and build up those friendships that flourish. Ignore the toxic ones that leave you feeling drained.

The Moral Of The Story

Loneliness can be tricky to overcome. As adults, we’re expected to be able to deal with it through established friend networks.

In reality, it’s not always the case. It’s normal for things to get to us once in a while.

By understanding the emotion, acknowledging the feeling, reaching out to friends, and having a mental plan, loneliness can be suppressed.

Focusing on the feelings of others and keeping expectations low will also help maintain a positive mindset, which in turn will spread to others around you.

You are not alone, good luck!

Daniel is a writer, senior teacher, and geographer based in Malta. His main passion is empowering students to fulfill their aspirations and reach their goals.

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Daniel Caruana Smith

Daniel is a writer, senior teacher and geographer based in Malta. His main passion is empowering students to fulfill their aspirations and reach their goals.