Before I met my current love, I lived alone for 12 years. I get loneliness (if you do too, check out my Self-Love Workbook). I understand it way down in my bones. Part of my (social) anxiety (and depression!) is my tendency to isolate myself. Before I discovered self-love this was a crippling combination because I didn’t understand it. Instead of realizing that I was often alone because of that tendency to isolate myself – I blamed it on my un-lovableness and my brokenness. Which deepened my sense of loneliness because it didn’t feel like something that could be fixed.
It felt like I had this undeniable character flaw.
Can you imagine walking around and feeling like the reason you’re lonely is that you’re just a broken human being with a sucky personality? That’s a self-esteem booster, let me tell you. I can’t even count the number of times I laid in bed and cried because I felt completely alone and unwanted in this world.
When I started my journey to loving myself, things began to shift. Slowly. I started filling up my time with all of these new things – art, walks, yoga, journaling. I began to actually try to understand my depression and anxiety. The work there was examining my triggers, honoring my cycles, and actively working toward how to feel better and not just accepting that those feelings were normal and permanent.
The loneliness began to slide, shift, and transform.
Not all loneliness is created equal.
There are different types of loneliness.
Loneliness because you are a normal human being and connection with other people is a thing we humans like.
Loneliness because you are not alone but you’re around people that just don’t get you. That type usually stems from toxic relationships or relationships that need a bit of TLC.
Loneliness because your only company is a spouse or your little munchkins. Like the social being you are, that might not be enough and that is okay, that is normal.
Loneliness because you crave a romantic connection. Who doesn’t want some cuddles?
Loneliness because you like being alone but at the same time you hate being alone. (I totally get that!)
Loneliness because you don’t like yourself (and no one likes to be alone with someone they don’t like).
The #1 Self Care for Loneliness tip is to figure out why you are lonely.
And then you go from there.
There are some types of loneliness where you should figure out a way to convert it from sad-loneliness to happy-aloneness and there are other types of loneliness where you should not plaster a happy smile on your face and pretend that everything is fine. Loneliness is valid. You don’t have to pretend that it’s something that you need to get over, forget, or sweep under a rug. You also don’t need to convince yourself that loneliness makes you weak or co-dependent.
Being lonely is perfectly natural and we all feel it.
Be aware of why you feel lonely. If you’re a stay-at-home mom or your life consists of family-work-family-sleep the cure for loneliness is not going to a movie by yourself or to write in a journal to force yourself to get comfortable with it. Go out and make friends. That is your self-care for loneliness. Don’t just deal with it, put up with it, and convince yourself that you don’t need anything else because you have your family. It’s okay to need more. Make friends. That’s what you need.
Join a mom group, hang out at the park, join a group online and see if you can meet for coffee or play dates where you get actual intellectual human interaction.
Re-connect with friends that you’ve lost contact with. Plan a girl’s night out. Find a pen-pal or a soulsister (Hey! We have a group for that!) where you can connect with like-minded people.
Embrace the alone-ness. If your loneliness stems from a feeling of panic when you’re alone because the silence drives you crazy. If you don’t feel okay unless you’re talking to someone, hanging out with someone, texting someone – if the minute you’re alone you start to feel upset, empty, and lonely, your self-care is a little different.
Being alone is not bad. Being alone is good for you. It is an essential tool to be able to enjoy your own company. Oftentimes that kind of loneliness stems from boredom. Cultivate hobbies that you can do alone and that keep your mind occupied and soon you’ll find yourself looking forward to that time alone and eventually that loneliness with be replaced with alone-ness and you’ll see how beautiful and essential it is to your well-being.
And for a different perspective, give this video (How to be Alone) a listen.
Don’t listen to your inner critic. When you feel lonely there’s a chance your mind is going to come up with reasons why you’re alone. Most of the time the reasons will be wildly preposterous (sometimes your brain can be a world-class a-hole). You are not lonely because you are un-interesting or hideous, or boring, or unworthy. In truth, there are people out there that will get along splendidly with you. It’s good that you aren’t settling for just any kind of company, you want good company – quality company – people you can mesh well with. They are out there and they do not care about all of those reasons why you think you are unlikeable.
They will like you anyway.
Stop isolating yourself. This goes back to #3. You do not suck. You are not inherently unfriendly. PEOPLE WILL LIKE YOU. So if your loneliness comes from not having anyone in your life to spend time with, put yourself out there. Ask someone out on a date, put yourself in a position to meet other people. Meet the friend of a friend, hang out with real-life people, talk to that person that you see all of the time but are too shy to talk to. Try the dreaded online dating. Don’t believe that loneliness is something that you deserve. When you isolate yourself all you’re doing is validating all of those things your inner-critic is saying about why people don’t like you. Fight those feelings!
If your support system sucks, de-suckify it. Loneliness also comes from surrounding yourself with people that make you feel bad about yourself. This may not be intentional on their part. Maybe your friends have kids or don’t while you do… or don’t and it’s just so hard to connect with them now. Or you have vastly different tastes or interests and while you love them dearly they don’t really give you that feeling of belonging. Or they never want to go out or make time for you because their life and responsibilities get in the way.
Create a support system that makes you feel good about yourself. With the internet, there are so many ways to connect with like-minded people. You can call, text, skype, email, meet in person – don’t limit yourself. Put yourself out there. Expand your network.
Ask for what you need. Maybe the perfect loneliness-busters are already in your life. They’re just waiting for an invitation. You’ll never know if your spouse, or the best-friend-that-you-never-get-to-see, or the lady that has lunch at the next table, feels exactly the same way you do when it comes to loneliness if you don’t talk about it or take steps to fix it.
When you make yourself available to talk about loneliness and why you feel it and what you need to make it better, you’re taking the first step in fixing what is wrong.
Create a life that you love. When I get home from work, I walk into an empty house – but it’s not empty. I have four adorable furballs. I have tons of houseplants that brighten my day and a garden full of flowers that need their water. The colors and the smell and the texture of my blankets – they all feel deeply safe and at home. This is my place and it’s a place I love. I get home and I have all of these wonderful hobbies and things that fill up my time. Do I get lonely? Yes! So I make plans with my best friend or I post in my group or I message or text someone.
Let me repeat this – loneliness is valid. It’s okay that you feel it, we all do!