Lonely No More! How to Deal With Feelings of Lonliness
Author: Dr. Ken Herman
Isn’t it amazing that we’re surrounded by people, but infinitely lonely? A feeling of loneliness hits people from all walks of life, singles as well as married people.
Not too long ago, I received a call from a man who lost his wife and was feeling extremely lonely. He reported that he sorely missed his wife and that doing things alone had frequently left him depressed.
“I’m like a fish out of water,” he exclaimed.
He never had many friends or joined clubs. He had no hobbies or special interests. “I feel like life is nothing without her.” He wanted to know if there is a cure for loneliness and if what he was experiencing was normal.
Obviously, this man was most upset about losing his wife. He felt abandoned and alone, and wasn’t sure what he could do to feel happy again.
Feeling lonely is a common phenomenon. It’s not just widowed people who feel lonely. People who are married or in a close relationship can also feel lonely.
Some people feel very restless and isolated when they are alone. However, being alone need not be a dark and dreary experience. We can enjoy spending time with ourselves.
Sometimes, thinking to ourselves is an opportunity to “go inside” and reflect, create meaning or a find a new understanding.
Sometimes, being alone gives us time that’s needed to learn a new hobby, play an instrument, read a book (or write one), exercise, do something creative or artistic, or learn a new language.
Being alone can be a rewarding experience. Perhaps the key is not feeling sorry for yourself (or self-pity). When we feel sorry for ourselves, your thoughts can quickly plummet down into depression. Instead of this, get busy. Switch to a pro-active, “what’s next?” mindset. Look for ways to meet new people. Find something useful or creative to do. You could even volunteer your time for an organization. Margie told me she would like to meet someone, but being alone had its advantages. When I asked what they were, she replied, “You can’t get hurt staying by yourself!” Margie felt like the possibility of rejection was greater than any pleasure she might experience in being vulnerable and making new friends.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Examine your state of loneliness. Think about what you can do differently. Where can you go to meet new people? How can you find “common ground” or something to talk about? Strike up a conversation with strangers.
Loneliness is usually a temporary condition. All it takes is one another person, and you’re no longer by yourself.
That’s why I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and talk to someone. To be a friend, you must first show yourself friendly.
If you are struggling, take the time to work through any issues you might be facing. If necessary, seek professional help. There is no reason why we should face life alone. And please, do not try to deal with loneliness by using drinking, overeating, drugs, or withdrawing to bed. These methods are not healthy and will make matters worse.
Instead, make an effort to talk to people. If you are shy, join a club, special interest group, or take a course. The next time you feel alone, jump up and make something happen. You’ll be glad that you did!
About the Author
Writer Dr. Kenneth Herman is the author of “Secrets from the Sofa: A Psychologist’s Guide to Personal Peace.” The book, which is based on Dr. Herman’s 45 years of counseling practice, focuses on proven methods of change that get results, every single time. Check it out at www.secretsfromthesofa.com