I experience many days where the feeling of loneliness creeps up on me. It’s never a conscious effort to bring it up, it just has a lovely little way of doing it all on it’s own (lol). And it says a lot that it happens without effort, because it shows me where I’m at within myself. What the world reflects back to you is more a reflection of yourself that it is of the world, because it’s how you’re processing in that moment based on your own experiences and biases. But guess what? Just because your perspective may have changed momentarily, doesn’t mean the world has.
I find it comforting that, even when I am in a headspace of feeling like everything is working against me, everyone is mad at me, I’m alone in all my experiences, yada yada yada… it really is just a reflection of my mind. The world didn’t change- I did. The world doesn’t change- WE do (well, most of the time). And I can say 1000% percent that you are not alone- in this experience, or any other. Here’s a few ways to remember, you’re never alone:
- Breathe. Sit somewhere comfortable and consciously slow down for a moment. Quiet the mind. You may not realize it, but, if you’re feeling lonely, your brain is likely in overdrive and headed down a rabbit hole you’d probably rather avoid. I mean, the fact that you’re reading this shows that you’d like to avoid it, so good on you for being here. Anyway, our brains like to think. A LOT. With or without our consent. And we have a choice to put some skin in the game and tell it what direction and at what speed we’d like it to go. So take this opportunity to let it know you’d like to take it down a few notches and go in a more pleasant direction. I personally like to breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, then breathe out for 8. You always want to make the outward breathing the longest part. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which will let your system know that there is nothing to be worried about. This also stops your mind in it’s tracks and gives you an opportunity to redirect and focus on something soothing- like counting your breaths.
- Meditate. The more I meditate the more and more I become an advocate for it. There are times when I feel I totally suck at it and literally think about stuff the whole way through, but even being aware that I am thinking is a great practice (and is really the whole point- to be aware if your internal dialogue). This helps you learn how to tune in and really sit with yourself when you’re feeling lonely or down. When those feelings creep up, don’t ignore them. Check in with yourself and ask why it is you’re feeling this way. Where do you feel it in your body? Once you’ve answered these questions, meditate. This will quiet the mind and give you a moment of pause and reflection. It’s like hitting the reset button. Seriously, it’s the best.
- Read an inspiring book. Loneliness isn’t just about feeling physically alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel like you’re the only one in the room. If you’re feeling alone in your experiences, it can be incredibly helpful to read about someone else’s experiences. Read a memoir written by someone you admire. Learn about their failures, successes and lessons along the way. Doing this always makes me feel connected to the whole of the human experience. It allows me to get into someone else’s mind, in the privacy of my own home, without having to actually talk to anyone, and really connect with them. That’s what I love about writing; it allows you the opportunity to share a part of yourself you wouldn’t ordinarily share, and that people might not ordinarily ask about. And those who do read it get a special glance into that part of you, leaving both parties feeling more connected. It’s pretty cool actually.
- You might be able to guess what that last point leads me to… Journaling. I have a designated notebook for free-writing and the main time I use it is when I am way too in my head. If I feel lonely or not good enough or whatever, I get my notebook out and literally just start scribbling words. Whatever words are in my head I get them out on paper. And you know what’s funny? Not even a few minutes into writing some less than favorable things about myself, it turns into something really beautiful and inspiring. Sometimes you just have to get all the bullshit out of the way first, before you can access the really good stuff that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. But it’s there, even when you can’t feel it. All the surface stuff that comes before it isn’t you- it’s what you’re subconscious thinks the world thinks of you. And, since most of our subconscious beliefs are formed when we’re children, I think it’s safe to say not all of them are entirely reliable. Just be nice to the inner child within you, let them have their moment to express themselves in writing; your real voice will follow.
- Talk to someone. I know it’s the last thing you probably want to do when you’re feeling lonely, because you feel vulnerable and alone in those emotions, but trust me, you are no where close to alone. Ever. Call up a trusted friend you feel safe with and share how you’re feeling with them. My guess is they’ll be so relieved you called, either because they’re currently feeling the same way and you can both help one another feel connected, or because they recently felt that way and they want to be there to help you out of it too. Human beings are so funny; we act as though we don’t need anyone, when in reality we really do. We are happiest when we feel a connection to our community, whether they be near or far.
- And lastly, go for a walk. Get out into the world. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lonely, I’ll purposely make myself go out for lunch, or chai, or to walk Remi at the park, just so I can feel connected to the world. I spend a lot of time at home these days, which can leave me feeling very in my head. And sometimes, the best thing for you is to go out and be a part of the bustling world around you. It reminds you how big the world is and how small we really are (in a good way). That, even if we feel this way in our minds, it does not mean the rest of the world feels the same. You can still go out and have positive interactions with others and it’ll challenge those thoughts and remind you that you, in fact, are never alone.
Knowing what you need and when you need it, when you feel alone, can be a challenge. The key is to really listen to your body and let it lead the way. If you’re feeling like curling up and reading a book, do that. If you’re thinking it might be nice to get out and feel the fresh air on your face, then do that. We all need different things at different times. Some of these suggestions may work for you, others may not, and that’s perfectly okay. Just try them out when you get those unwelcome feelings of loneliness, and see what helps.
One other tip I’ll give is to ask yourself whether you’re seeing things through a lens of fear or of faith, when you’re feeling lonely. Asking yourself this crucial question will help remind you that your lonely feelings are not based in reality, they’re based in fear. It’ll also help you move toward a more faith-based mindset, where you can see the world as a more loving place full of opportunity and abundance.
The most important tip I can give on this subject though, is to always remind yourself that you are never alone. Our brains like to trick us into thinking that feeling this way is bad and that no one else ever does and that we’re lesser for doing so, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is completely natural to feel these feelings. Try to see them as your body communicating to you that it needs something. Maybe you’re a bit disconnected and a little too in your head at the moment, and this is your body’s way of telling you to come back. To look around and take in your beautiful life. You’re not bad for that, it’s actually a good thing. It’s an opportunity to come back and be here. To feel connected to the world around you. Because, when you feel connected, you know you’re never alone.
What do you do to combat feelings of loneliness? Share your tips!