My blog is devoted to sharing personal development tools, techniques and tips that will inspire you to create a growth mindset, build resilience and manage your world more effectively.
Loneliness is as lethal as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day (1).
It is particularly challenging for many people in this current time of a pandemic. I’m also aware that any loneliness I have personally experienced is a moment in time and often passes very quickly, however, some of my closest friends have felt and do feel true loneliness, and I’m aware how hard this can be for them.
I am certainly not a specialist in this area but from what I have observed, I believe that loneliness is an absence of something. It could be a partner, a friendship, family, a job, a purpose, it’s a sense of something missing and a huge lack of fulfilment.
What I have learnt is not to assume that what they need from you is what you’d need from them if you were in the same position. We often have a habit of going into ‘fix it’ mode and it can feel forced or as though it’s only being considered because that individual has shared that they are feeling lonely.
I believe the best step forward is to empathise, not sympathise, with the situation of someone who was brave enough to share that they are feeling lonely. This might sound like ‘Thank you for telling me how you’re feeling, I’d like to help you work through this’ and together explore ways you might be able to support them in expanding and enhancing human connection. Another huge learning I’ve had over the years, is that you cannot force anyone to take action, think differently or feel differently unless they are ready to. As a supportive friend or family member, it’s about exercising patience and reminding them frequently that you care and are here for them.
You may well be reading this and be the person who actually is the one experiencing loneliness and you’re thinking, yes Nicole, good point but how can I help myself?
Firstly, if you’ve ever thought ‘how can I help myself?’ that’s a great place to start, even reading this post shows us that there is a growth mindset leading your journey. I can only imagine how hard true, deep loneliness feels. Counteracting loneliness requires building human to human connections. I appreciate that this can feel quite scary, however, the risk of not facing into it is too great.
The days you find it particularly hard, ask yourself…what would my life be like if I didn’t feel lonely. The vision of a happy and fulfilled you is the guiding force of your daily actions and needs to be at the forefront of your mind each and every day.
Can you share with someone how you’re feeling? Explain to them the way loneliness makes you think and feel and highlight the way you’d like to feel instead?
It might be reaching out to friends and family asking to meet up for a virtual coffee or dinner? Don’t be discouraged if people appear too busy to connect. That is not a reflection of you, in fact, they probably aren’t aware of how you’re feeling and are currently battling their way through life. Be patient and ask that they let you know when they are next available.
What activities are you interested in? Is there a club or local get together that you could seek to join in the future? Jump into these feet first, only good can prevail, contact them now to find out how joining works when everything starts back up.
Or maybe you’re like me and you travel a lot for work (pre covid), which means a lot of evenings alone….I relished these moments. I would tend to find a café, restaurant or bar to read or work in and, more often than not, I start up a conversation with someone who has an interesting story to share. I learn so much from people I meet on my way. Even when I’m not feeling super chatty, I make an effort to engage. Conversations don’t have to be deep and meaningful to reduce loneliness, it might just be two souls connecting for a matter of minutes in conversation.
If loneliness is taking hold of you because you are not content with your current status in life (maybe you’d like to be in a loving relationship and you’re yet to meet that person) keep going, it will happen. Remember you see what you seek, so do everything you can to build those connections and eventually you’ll feel less lonely and happiness will fill its void.