As far as I’m concerned, one of the most painful experiences a person can have is the feeling of loneliness and a sense of isolation. You don’t have to be on your own to feel lonely; you can feel intensely lonely when you’re in a crowd or, worse, within your relationship, as was the case with me. It’s feeling alone and unwanted.
I think there are 2 possibilities why people might feel lonely:
- If you believe you’re not good enough, that you have nothing to offer or contribute, if you believe you’re boring, for example when you’re with a group of people talking about things you know nothing about.
- You can also feel lonely when you lost someone you loved, when you move to a new area where you don’t know anybody, after a divorce, even if you were the one who initiated it, and so on.
People deal with loneliness in different ways:
- Some retreat into the comfort and familiarity of their own home.
- Others make seriously bad choices just to end the pain, for example going out with anybody even if you don’t really enjoy their company.
- Yet others stay in very unhappy relationships because they’re afraid of being alone, without realising that they already are alone.
Many years ago, a man asked me to work with him. He was desperate to have a relationship. He was very self-conscious and focused his insecurities on his nose which, he believed, was the reason he didn’t get what he wanted so badly.
As we were about to part at the end of our conversation, he turned to me and said, “I know you can’t answer this question but I’ll ask it anyway. What do people think when they look at me?”
I replied, “Oh, that’s very easy! They’re thinking, “I wonder what he thinks when he looks at me.””
In the case of people who feel they’re not good enough or interesting enough, there are far too many who are a bundle of insecurities and that causes them to focus excessively on themselves and their own imaginary flaws.
About a year ago in my u3a group (University of the Third Age) there was a member who felt lonely but hated going out because, she told us, she was boring and had nothing to contribute to conversations.
To her I explained that everybody believes they have to talk – nobody wants to listen yet people are hungry to be heard.
As with that young man who focused excessively on his own sense of isolation, we’re so focused on ourselves and our own feelings that we forget that other people might feel the same.
When I have to be in a group (which I don’t particularly enjoy), I tend to approach people who are standing by themselves. I might say something like, “I’m afraid I don’t know anybody here, do you?”
For those who have lost a loved one, the only answer is to grieve as long as it takes. I would say the same to those whose relationships have broken down. However bad the relationship, they too need to grieve, even if only for the loss of illusions.
For those who avoid the risk of going out, I recommend figuring out what they’re interested in and find events where they might meet like-minded people because it’s easier to start a conversation when you have something in common.
And finally, there are people who are alone, perhaps elderly, perhaps housebound. Maybe you could befriend one of them. Helping others is a powerful way to help yourself – giving and receiving are the same.
But the one thing that does not work is staying at home and telling yourself that nobody cares whether you live or die, that people are selfish and just interested in themselves and that they just want to get on with their own lives. That only makes you feel bitter on top of feeling lonely.
Why not give any one of these ideas a go and see what happens? It may take an effort but the results are well worth it.
The one thing that has always reenergised me when I was feeling low was taking action – it didn’t even matter what I did as long as I did something positive.
P.S. I enable women build successful relationships, first with themselves and then with others. That’s because your relationship with yourself shapes all your other relationships.
I enable women build relationships that are solid and durable and, especially, relationships where they experience caring and intimacy.
If this is what you want too, call me on 020 8940 7056 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE one hour exploratory conversation.