Loneliness by Wolfgang Staudt
Loneliness is paralyzing, because of the fear it produces. You start to believe the hallucinations your brain is showing you; of friends laughing and partying without you, or family members having a barbeque feast and ignoring you. These images are usually false fear signals generated by the brain. Simply by reaching out to others you will see them for the deception they are.
Loneliness is powerful because it builds upon itself. Last week I suffered a bout of this myself. Every day that a friend didn’t call, or someone didn’t say hello, I felt more ignored, left out and alone. But by simply being the first one to call, speak or wave hello I received friendly and often enthusiastic responses. My own fear lead me to believe the worst, when it was simply the hurried pace that most people live in that caused the conflict – not a lack of caring.
Loneliness and sadness go together hand in hand. That’s because when you feel like people are ignoring you or leaving you behind, you feel unloved and hopeless. If people aren’t making an effort to get together with you, they obviously must not value your relationship very much.
But fear is the trap. Once your mind begins a cycle of fear and sadness, it’s very hard to snap out of it. Your usual activities are not fulfilling and you feel listless and bored. This is not the time to ignore your feelings. Feelings of pain and sadness are just as important as happiness and joy. They are there to tell you something. One of the most effective techniques for getting over pain is to merely admit to yourself you have the pain. Saying to yourself “I am lonely,” is very liberating and powerful. By admitting to your seeming flaw and naming it, you take away the power of the unknown.
Even if you are unlucky enough to find out that people actually dislike you, it is always better to deal with the truth. If they consider you unworthy or not enough, you must decide if they are right and you need to make changes, or if you have simply outgrown your relationship with this person. It is healthier to move on from a poor relationship, than to struggle on together, growing more and more resentful and frustrated.
Here are a few ideas to help you deal with your loneliness:
1. Call a friend. It’s highly likely that your friends are not ignoring you, but rather simply got caught up in the drama of their own lives. Most of forget that each individual is the center of his or her own universe. Make the call and get the understanding and face time you need. (If you’re going to blame your friends for your loneliness, the least you can do is make sure they really are ignoring you.)
2. Watch a movie. I don’t know why it works, but if you put on your favorite movie, the one you know line for line and have seen a thousand times, it has a miraculous power to heal your fear. Perhaps just remembering how many of your family and friends love the same thing will remind of happy memories and help you pick up the phone or make a quick personal visit.
3. Help someone. The best way to make yourself feel better is to help someone else. You can send someone an uplifting email, write a heartfelt letter, pet-sit, baby-sit, run an errand or whatever other little task keeps you busy and makes you feel useful and good.
4. Use your alone time. Instead of feeling lonely, choose to make the best of your time alone. What do you love to do by yourself that you can’t do with others around? Do you love to dance to loud music for 2 hours? Or stay up late watching a horror-movie marathon? How about eating pizza at 6am, or vacuuming the house at 10pm? Do those quirky things you love while you have the chance. It will cheer you up and put a positive spin on being by yourself.
5. Do something you’re good at. Can you paint, or sew, or grow prize-winning bougainvillea? If so, take on a new project. Using your strengths will help you regain your confidence and maybe even meet new friends. It will give you a much-needed boost to your self-esteem. You can even combine it with #3 and paint a mural for a nursing home or hammer a home for a poor resident. Your feel-good receptors will skyrocket!
6. Confide in your Teddy Bear. Whether it be of the stuffed variety or the cuddly pooch you nicknamed “Teddy,” sometimes just talking about your loneliness helps get it out of your system. A lack of response can even be helpful by allowing you insight into your pain or fear without any possibility of a real person saying the wrong thing while trying to help.
7. Admit your fear. Name your emotions and they loose their power over you. Say aloud “I feel sad and lonely. I think nobody cares about me.” This can instantly reveal that your fear is false. You may still be sad, but you will probably realize that people do care about you. Once you recognize that, perhaps you can pick a person to call and open your heart to.
8. Prayer and meditation. Sometimes when you find a soothing, safe, quiet place for reflection and open your heart, you can let your feelings out in a secure environment. Soon you’ll feel a release of the pain you’ve been holding inside. Without fear and pain blocking your path you can find the strength to reach out to others again.
What are some of the tips you have for coping with loneliness and sadness? What fun, unusual or useful ideas worked for you in the past? Please feel free to share them here. And for all of you still feeling lonely – there are people who care about you. One of them is right here.
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