How to Handle Loneliness

If you feel lonely, ironically, you’re not alone. As of this year, over half of Americans have reported that they feel lonely. That’s one in every two people struggling with loneliness. On top of this, we live in a culture that masks this reality, with social media making it seem like everyone has got tons of great connections. And when you feel like you’re the only one who’s disconnected, it’s easy to isolate yourself even further.  Loneliness does not necessarily result from having a lack of people in your life, but rather a lack of genuine connection. Not feeling understood can lead to loneliness. Not feeling accepted for who you are can lead to loneliness. It’s quite possible to have a handful of awesome connections, but still feel lonely.
Here are a few tips that can help you to navigate through experiences of loneliness:

  1. Become the Companion You Want: Some of the despised cliché phrases that are often said to someone going through a breakup are, “Date yourself!” or “Time to get more comfortable with yourself!”. But, there is some truth to the idea of becoming the person that you’d like to spend time with. What sorts of things do you look for in a companion? Someone who is compassionate? Someone who keeps it real? Focus on becoming that person, not only because it can attract like-minded people, but because it can make time spent with yourself more enjoyable.
  2. Complete an Act of Kindness: I’ll keep it real. When it comes to altruism, my brain likes to say, “No thanks! You barely have enough energy/ resources for your own life.” But! Alas, doing nice things for others can have various health benefits, and it can encourage more connectedness in your life. Challenge yourself to try one of these ideas!
  3. Embrace Vulnerability: We tend to want to be around people who make us feel seen. Though, we have to be able to show our true selves in order to be seen in the first place. It can feel risky to be vulnerable because not everyone will greet you with open arms, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It likely just means that that connection isn’t the best fit. The more you allow your authentic self to be revealed, the more likely you are to find someone who accepts you and is willing to show their authentic self in return.
  4. Evaluate Expectations: Sometimes, the expectations we place on ourselves and others can keep us at a distance from people. Specifically, the perfectionism trait has been correlated with experiences of loneliness. As mentioned above, vulnerability is crucial for building intimacy with others. You don’t have to be flawless to get people to like you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite (Seriously… have you ever met someone who seemed “too” perfect? I’ll bet you didn’t feel very connected with them). If you struggle with perfectionism, aim to become more accepting of the “human” parts of yourself and others.

Loneliness can be so hard to endure, especially if you’ve felt this way for a long time. Remember that you have everything you need within yourself to be content. Start with befriending yourself and build from there!

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