Being alone, being on your own, does not mean you are lonely. You can feel lonely in a crowd. Loneliness, to me, is when you feel disconnected from other people and from yourself. Perhaps when you are lonely you feel that no one understands you and that no one is capable of understanding you. It’s a difficult thing to deal with. It requires getting out of your own way and out of your own head. The following is my mini 3 step guide to getting out of your own head so you can feel connected again, to yourself and to others.
A personal reflection on loneliness
I wrote this at a time when I was feeling lonely. I just wrote exactly what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Perhaps it will help you to feel less alone in feeling lonely.
Sometimes I feel as if my relationships, the ones I hold most dear lack an authenticity (or at least I worry that they do). My biggest fear is that the people I love do not truly love me. My recipe for suffering is self-destruction. When I suffer from feelings of anxiety, loneliness or sadness I tend to make myself suffer more through either intense exercise or overworking. I do not have a good mechanism for relaxation. When I suffer I feel more motivated to mitigate the suffering of others. In a way, I want to suffer. I want to suffer so others don’t have to suffer the way I did.
Living on my own in a different country has definitely taught me the importance of looking out for myself. But it’s difficult. It’s difficult to look beyond yourself as if from a distance, observe what you are doing, and then help yourself. But it’s the only way forward. The following is what I do and think to help myself in times of anxiety and loneliness.
Step 1 – Open up
When you open up to someone maybe they won’t understand all of the complicated intricacies of your mind and personality or your problems, but you can feel connected by knowing that the person you are talking to, have probably felt exactly the same way at some point. We all want to be understood, we all want to be listened to. It is impossible to feel lonely when you feel loved.
Do your best to explain yourself completely so the person can understand, and keep in mind that they don’t need to provide you with the golden piece of advice that is going to fix everything. It is likely that a golden piece of advice doesn’t exist. Healing is a process and it’s the talking and listening part that will help you the most. Loneliness is not logical there is no formulaic solution.
Step 2 – Be Kind
Consider the fact that it’s extremely likely that other people are feeling the same or similar feelings to you and so are you able to channel that pain, the loneliness into empathy and kindness? If you are, then in my eyes, you are a hero. Be the person who always listens, who always tries to understand and who shows compassion. Being kind, for me, is the best way to get out of your own head and by doing so you will feel less lonely because you will realize that everyone feels the same things you do and everyone has their own particular, unique way of suffering and through this, we are all connected.
Being kind is the best cure for loneliness because you will see that you are not alone in your own mind.
Step 3 – Connect to something beyond yourself
For me, I feel most connected when I am running. I go somewhere in nature, put my headphones on and the world seems to melt away. I feel each step, each panting breath and hear each transcending note of my favourite song. In moments like these, it is intrinsically obvious to me that I am clearly not the most important thing in the world, I am not alone in my own mind and there is a purpose as to why I am here, at this moment, running. There is something deep, inexplicable and indescribably beautiful that connects me to everything else. The trees bring breath to the earth, the sun brings light to the world and everything depends on itself, everything is connected.
To me, if you look at all of the different systems for understanding the world; Science, religion and spirituality. The common thread is that firstly, we do not understand this world and perhaps never will and secondly that there is something beyond ourselves. We are not alone within our own heads.
I know this step is a bit more esoteric and hippie-dippie but I think it is equally important. Obviously, my experience of connection will be different from everyone else. For some, it might be religion, science, spirituality or simply connecting with the person you love most. But I will offer some ideas to you that have nothing to do with religious or spiritual beliefs. –
Exercise. Exercise brings you out of your head and into your body.
Meditate. By meditate I don’t mean go to Nepal and become a monk. It can be as simple as sitting in a quiet room and counting your breaths.
Listen to music. Try listening mindfully to each note, each change of emotion. Music seems to tap into our deepest feelings and has been proven to help things such as anxiety and depression. Listen to the spaces between the notes, there you will find something transcendent.
Have a conversation. Keep good eye contact and listen attentively to what the other person has to say.
Make art. Do you like to draw, play music, paint? Where does creativity come from? Creativity does not have an opinion nor is it logical, it taps into something beyond yourself.
Spend time in nature. Go somewhere where there are trees, or the beach, anywhere besides a concrete jungle. We did not evolve to live in concrete buildings, nature is our true home.
Hopefully by opening up, being kind and connecting to something beyond yourself you will start to feel less lonely. Remember that it is a process, it will take time to feel more connected with yourself and others. Also, realize that although some emotions such as loneliness are painful and uncomfortable they are necessary for they give contrast to the beautiful times of our life. And so, I will leave you with this final thought.
“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”