How do we define being lonely?
We might experience different types of isolation, but at the end is the meaning we give to such experience which makes us feel lonely or not.
- We can feel lonely even though we are surrounded by people most of the time.
- We can be physically secluded from other seeing or being in contact with people (like living in the mountains or being in prison). In this case a good relationship with ourselves is essential.
- We can live with other family members and still feel lonely because we lack of a specific type of relationship (like a romantic relationship) to be fulfilled.
Some people experience the above circumstances without feeling lonely, and this is the point that we need to be focused on: Loneliness is a completely subjective experience and is linked to the actual quality of the relationships we have, instead of the quantity.
We might have thousands of virtual friends, be married, talk constantly to people at work and other places, and still feel lonely because we lack of the real connection and recognition that provides a truly emphatic bond. We lack of depth, sense, connection.
This is becoming a quite usual problem in our current times… there is just no time to build meaningful relationships.
We ignore the risks that loneliness bring to our health: it decreases our self-esteem, lowers our immune response, makes us feel empty, without a purpose. It erodes our social abilities, making us more defensive, and opens the door for depression. This becomes a negative cycle as we experience such negative state that it becomes harder for us to connect and create new connections with others.
When we are lonely, our stress hormones fill our blood stream creating anxiety, reducing sleep, and making us feel in high risk. This is due to our strong instinct to belong to our pack to survive; a memory written in our subconscious mind by evolution: We had to stick together to survive predator attacks, eat and keep warm.
For our subconscious: Lonely = Death
Keep that in mind. Keep also in mind that your subconscious mind rules 95% of your decisions and habits.
It is painful, physically painful to be lonely… our bodies are designed to signal us that there is something very wrong, and the feeling of discomfort is no other than a mechanism of survival.
Listen to your body. Listen to the signals.
If you recognize these signals and have thoughts and feelings of loneliness, you may find the following steps useful in getting out of such emotional state:
- Recognize if you enjoy your own company, and promote a good emotional environment for yourself whenever alone.
- The key to have successful relationship with others is to first enjoy being with yourself. Whenever you start feeling lonely, think what activities would you enjoy doing by yourself and expand your limitations: go to the movies by yourself, take a walk by the beach, go to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite food, listen to your favorite music aloud. Allow yourself the freedom and satisfaction that loneliness brings, focus on the positive. You will be surprised of how much you will enjoy these activities once you do this often. Release yourself from the need to have a partner to enjoy life. Your own company is great enough. Treat yourself. Love yourself. This is the first step to any healing process.
- Recognize if you have a negative bias against basic human interaction of any sort.
- Do you avoid talking to people in common public places (like asking for directions when you need them the most), politely greeting people on the elevator, or do you avoid your neighbors? Think deeply what are the reasons behind this behavior and recognize if you have a negative predisposition against human interaction. Think how you could expand your boundaries by allowing yourself for initiate a chat next time. Don’t expect a negative outcome, you might be surprised of how people react to a friendly smile 🙂
- Be aware of how much time we are really dedicating to the people most close to us, and be open to increase our commitment to those relationships.
- Talk to your close family and friends about increasing the time your spend together and try leaving mobile devices away during such special times. Think of what was a common thing you used to enjoy together and plan these activities often. Work on your family and friends as much as you work on your career or for others. At the end, these relationships are the ones that determine your well-being and you can become a positive agent in your inner circle.
Keep in mind that loneliness is contagious!
If you feel lonely, most probably your loved ones feel lonely too!
Reach out to them and promote within your inner circle activities that require a physical presence and connection, like outdoor activities, musical events, and other scenarios that also include groups in your community. If there is physical distance, book a weekly video call so you keep in touch with people far away. Video chats also work wonders!
If you experience loneliness, and would like to receive advice, we can help you.
Please feel free to contact us to arrange a coaching session.
With much LOVE!