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Loneliness Problems

Another way in which people can feel lonely is in the absence of a close emotional relationship. Those superficial acquaintances that can cure social loneliness won't touch the emotional variety. That explains why people can party for weeks and still feel lonely.

Finding ways to change these feelings of loneliness


One thing is certain: we cannot wish our way out of loneliness. Nor can we escape it by wishing others would change; by gossiping about them or by sedating ourselves with alcohol, frantic activity and other excesses. Here are some constructive ways to begin dealing with loneliness: Slow down; become more attentive to yourself and your surroundings. This can begin by eating more conscientiously; making healthier choices and taking the time to enjoy your food. It might also mean scheduling regular walks or bike rides and stopping to notice some interesting shop or garden along the way.


Recognise the lonely feelings and express them.


To stop feeling lonely, we first must accept that we are feeling lonely. Sometimes admitting that to ourselves is difficult. We then have to express those feelings of loneliness in some way. We might find ourselves writing in a diary, writing an imaginary letter to a friend or relative, drawing or painting a picture, making up a song, or doing anything else that lets us begin to express the feelings we have inside us, including talking with other people! Expressing our feelings might lead us to discover that we feel a number of things which might be connected to our feelings of loneliness, including sadness, anger, and frustration. We might be able to begin to see where these feelings are coming from, what they are connected to in our lives. As we begin to see the connections we will be more able to begin to make changes.


Become more active.


The big change, of course, is to stop being passive and become more active. If we’re missing someone, such as parents, family, or friends, we can telephone, write, e-mail or visit them. Talking to an understanding friend can often help change our moods as well. If we don’t have an understanding friend, talking with a pastor, teacher or counsellor might be a place to start. If we are lonely because we are missing someone who has died, being able to express our grief at their loss and beginning to remember our happier moments with them and knowing that those memories can always be with us, can move us away from the lonely feelings. This can also apply to losses of significant friendships or lovers.


Get involved in activities or clubs.


Getting involved in some sort of activity or club can accomplish several things. It can take our minds off of feeling lonely as we get involved in the enjoyable activity. It can actually change our mood directly in this way. It can give us opportunities to meet people with similar interests and practice our people-meeting skills. It can provide some structure in our lives so that we have things to look forward to. It can remind us of how good we might have felt in the past doing similar things. Sometimes these effects can come very quickly and sometimes they may come more slowly. We might really need to push ourselves to go to meetings or talk to people or attend several activities before we begin to feel comfortable with what we are doing and begin to see progress. Perhaps something to avoid is to attempt to join a club or organisation or to develop a new interest just because we think it will make us a better or more interesting person. A better strategy might be to get involved in something because we know we’ve enjoyed it in the past or because we think it might be fun. That way we’re more likely to find ourselves enjoying what we’re doing and being with people who genuinely enjoy the same things. We may also find out that some people like us for the way we already are. An added bonus is that we might also begin to realize that we could choose to engage in some of those activities or interests entirely on our own without feeling lonely.


Reach out as a volunteer.


Few activities bring such a sense of personal satisfaction and "feeling connected" than providing a useful service to those who really need it. There are many possibilities; hospitals, animal shelters, recreation centres and seniors' facilities to name a few. Find out what services they require that you can provide for a couple of hours a month. Many places are willing to accommodate your schedule. Focusing on others through giving helps you to feel valued, worthwhile and needed.


“Re-connecting”


Try "re-connecting" with people. This could mean calling, writing or visiting family members more often, or tracking down old friends, former colleagues and other people you cared about years ago. The relationship might flourish on having breakfast together once a month, a letter or card several times a year, or a real gab session once in a while when one or both of you really need it!


A Party


One way to start having parties involves asking a couple who brings another couple. This kind of party can be as large or as small as you wish it to be, assuming you have at least one couple as casual friends to get it started.


The best party for me revolves around TV sports. There is always something to talk about when you are watching the television.


Second, I like barbeques whether they are at home or the local outdoor spot. Being outdoors lends itself to physical activity, meaning I don't have to talk the entire time. It is also best for family parties. The little kids and the grown kids can work off some energy.


If parties scare you to death, ask a friend or relative to help you execute the first one.


If you feel you don't have enough friends to start a party, keep participating in social, volunteer, and special-interest groups. You will find enough casual friends here to get parties started soon.


And, see, you have created a social network of your own. And it was easy. Well, if not all that easy, at least it works!


A good social network will lead to at least one or two very close friends. That cures loneliness.


Carry your connections when you travel.

If frequent travel is a source of your loneliness try turning "Heartbreak Hotel" into a home away from home. Take a couple of photographs or comforting mementos with you. Or ask someone to call you at your hotel at an agreed-upon time. To a lonely traveller, nothing sounds sweeter than a ringing telephone when you know that someone you care about is on the other end.


How To Feel Connected When You're Alone



Long-Term Cures


The long-term cures for loneliness all involve becoming comfortable with yourself. This includes raising your self-esteem, then rebuilding a social network. After you have built a good social network, you will form one or two close friendships.


As you would expect, social friendships are much easier to achieve than close friendships. However, superficial, social friendships are almost always the source of close friendships.


Close friendships usually start with a feeling of "chemistry" or sameness with another person. They normally start slowly and proceed slowly, often taking two to three years to mature.


Once you find a suitable person for a potential close friendship, start by sharing a few private thoughts and/or feelings. If the person is responsive, he/she will usually share a personal thought or two with you. If he/she is not open to your overtures, don't think of this as a rejection.


People may appear indifferent to your friendship advances for reasons of their own. Or their indifference may merely be a perception of yours. Nevertheless, they can't be rejecting you as a person because they don't even know you yet.


The sex angle


Modern culture, in TV, films and books, tells us that the only meaningful relationship is a sexual or romantic one. It isn't true, but we believe it. If we do not have such a relationship, we feel a failure. Or we try to find meaning in these relationships, but often fail. And if these relationships are private and closed, leaving no room for other friendships, then when they end, we have no “real”, “ordinary” friends to turn to.


Surprisingly, it is not only the quiet, shy, people, who may feel loneliness. It can also be the sort of person who is the “life and soul of the party” - always joking, laughing, apparently out-going, yet afraid to really connect with others - holding other people away at arm's length. They may seem to have lots of friends, but inside they are hurting.


In conclusion



Everyone feels lonely from time to time. Using some of the suggestions above will most likely help cope better with those feelings. If you find that you are having difficulty dealing with feelings of loneliness on your own, you may want to seek out the help of a counsellor.


"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty."


                   Mother Teresa

 On this page:


Finding ways to change the feelings of loneliness


How to feel connected when you’re alone     Long term cures

Loneliness

Loneliness is a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you. You feel isolated or separated from the world, cut off from those you would like to have contact with. There are different kinds of loneliness and different degrees of loneliness. You might experience loneliness as a vague feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness. Or you might feel loneliness as a very intense deprivation and deep pain. One type of loneliness might be related to missing a specific individual because they have died or because they are so far away. Another type might be involve feeling alone and out of contact with people because you are actually physically isolated from people like you might be if you work alone on the night shift or are off alone in a part of a building where people seldom go. You might even feel emotionally isolated when you are surrounded by people but are having difficulty reaching out to them.


Loneliness is different than just being alone


It needs to be emphasised here that loneliness is not the same as being alone. A person will always have time when they chose to be alone. Rather, loneliness is the feeling of being alone and feeling sad about it. And, of course, all of us feel lonely some of the time. It is only when we seem trapped in our loneliness that it becomes a real problem.


How do we contribute to our own sense of loneliness?


Loneliness is a passive state. That is, it is maintained by our passively letting it continue and doing nothing to change it. We hope it will go away, eventually, and we do nothing but let it envelop us. Strangely, there are times when we might even embrace the feeling. Yet, embracing loneliness and sinking down into the feelings associated with it usually leads to a sense of depression and helplessness, which, in turn, leads to an even more passive state and more depression.


Being lonely is painful


"I feel like my stomach is a big cheese with a little rat gnawing away at it, never making any progress. But it is painful, it hurts."


"I can't settle down, I just walk around picking things up, putting them down, and never really accomplishing anything. I feel like I'm in pain."


"I feel like I am empty inside, no stomach, no insides, nothing. And it hurts."


"It's kind of like the pain of flu but not really."


These people are all describing loneliness.


There is no doubt that loneliness is painful. And that pain is real. The pain could be more severe in certain situations such as combined with the end of a relationship, but all loneliness carries some pain. Loneliness also carries other feelings. It is sometimes accompanied by:


Sadness

Boredom

Depression

Anxiety

Restlessness

Low self-esteem


Intended comforts for loneliness can be deceiving, too. Often activities that should decrease loneliness, such as a night out with happy friends or holidays with family, can actually make lonely feelings more intense and painful.. Loneliness is no respecter of age either. People do not necessarily get more or less lonely as they age.


Being lonely is described as universal, even among married people. In fact, many married people describe themselves as lonely either because they are not emotionally close to their partner or because they depend on their partner for most or all social contacts.


Sometimes loneliness is brought on by a lack of social network. Everyone needs people for "hanging out." People with an active social life rarely suffer social  loneliness. Others, for various reasons such as being shy, a workaholic, or new to an area, do not have a social network in place. The first step, then, will be to rebuild or develop a social network.

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