I recently thought about this as a friend of mine, Becky, texted me and told me about her feelings about being lonely. I recalled one of my favorite rock groups, Boston, where the lead singer committed suicide. He pointed to loneliness as the reason for his taking his own life. Everyone knows people are social creatures, and a healthy amount of human interaction (healthy interaction) is necessary for mental health and happiness.
First off, you must realize that (without using a pun) that you are not alone in your loneliness. Like anything else, like a pain in your neck, you have to learn how to combat loneliness. I truly do not believe this is a “medical problem” in 99% of the cases. The reaction in the mind is sincere. The individual feels alone in the world. I advise not seeking “professional counseling” at this point. All the doctors will do is label you with “Major Depression” and start the poisons that will numb and dull your mind.
Second, write on a new Microsoft Word document just why you feel lonely. You can start by outlining how you may have had a boyfriend or girlfriend leave your life. Much of your existence was centered on being with this person and sharing life with this person, and now that they are out of the picture, you feel alone. You may recognize that you are not going to your regular church anymore, and thus people are calling you less and less. This can be fixed however, by joining a new church for example…
You may also feel lonely in a RELATIVE basis because the people you once considered friends are no longer your friends. They may have stolen your boyfriend or stabbed you in the back. Now, the loss of this friend may leave you feeling empty.
Things change. And your relationships may change. It makes sense to take an inventory of your life’s interactions with people, and detail who and the number of times you associate with someone. There is nothing wrong with the fact that all your friendships will change and you will meet all new people. Much of the loneliness people feel is because they are attached to old relationships that have outgrown its usefulness. It is time to move on.
Next, on the same sheet of paper, write down interests and activities that you share with people. Think about new experiences that you find emerging in your life but you have yet to share with others. Much of this activity takes no money at all, and many take place everywhere, so there is little excuse.
Maybe doing yoga (many find friends in this area) in your city is a solution. Thinking about the common interests with others that you would like to share will guide you towards people to be with. This includes finding that significant other, which is key for many people in avoiding loneliness.
Make it your life mission to go out and associate with new people every day. Again, embrace the fact that things change, so if you hold on tightly to old relationships that are over and done with, loneliness will creep up and bite you soundly. You, deep inside, want the same relationships that are over and done with, but because of circumstances outside your control, they are basically over. Being accepting of this is the beginning of your escape from loneliness.
Did you ever go on Craiglist and visit “The Community” section? There are all sorts of “meet ups” there. From artists to musicians, from book clubs to chess teams, they are all there for you to freely contact and make new associations. Join a weekly book club in your area. Join a new church. Join more than one, if you need. Religious organizations are a wonderful place to reach out and meet others that share your faith.
Visit also various sites on Volunteering. It does not have to be a large portion of your week. Just a few hours per week is enough. Since there is no “payment”, any supervisors there will be very accepting of your work. If you cancel or show up late or do “sub par” work, since you are not being paid, there is a certain sense of freedom. Also, being part of a group that is about helping others will give you a inner lift, no matter the circumstances of your loneliness.
So to summarize, first we must figure out on paper the “why” you are lonely. Then, we must find out the “what to do about it” regarding your loneliness. 99% of your feelings about loneliness is due to self imposed isolation or forced isolation. Make a solution to get yourself out there with other people. Unless you are in a maximum security prison in Joilet, IL for a horrible crime, you have the ability to reach out and meet new people.
You could also visit the website Meetup.com. I read many of my friends find new friends there. Also, you may consider finding a new very part time job. Work is one of the main places people find new friends to talk to. A new part time job can easily be found on Craiglist or Yahoo! Jobs or Monster.com. Since it is so part time, it is easier to find and do that another full time job.
Pick a job that involves interacting with other coworkers, like in a mall, library, or school. The main thing now is not to isolate yourself. The feelings of loneliness are different for different people. If you experience depression from loneliness, there may be an easy fix or a more difficult fix.
Just as a warning, during this vulnerable time, find a person you trust to help guide you through this time of loneliness. Never ever sit alone in a crowded place. It will only heighten your sense of being alone. Do everything you can to prevent yourself being isolated. Loneliness BREEDS more loneliness. Unless you are among the few who desires a solitary life, don’t remain away from others. Just even people watching in a park or even the airport will help stem away feelings of loneliness. I recall a good friend of mine Al who would go to the airport just to see other people greeting others at the baggage claim area. Seeing all of the love and being around so many people always seemed to make his loneliness disappear.