Feeling lonely? You’re not alone. According to a recent Cigna study, loneliness in America is at epidemic levels.

Did you know that while loneliness is defined as a state of solitude, or being alone, it is actually a state of mind?

Lonely people tend to see the social world through a pessimistic lens. As a result, they expect less positive social interactions, and store more negative social information. This gloomy view of the social world is often one of the underlying causes of loneliness.

Read on to find out how to change this state of mind and stop feeling lonely.

feeling lonely

Do these 5 things to stop feeling lonely:

1. Identify your loneliness type

Feeling lonely doesn’t always mean you are physically alone. Loneliness can be defined in a few different ways:

  1. Physical aloneness- being separated from others by distance, or for a period of time.
  2. Situational loneliness- created by socio-economic and environmental factors (like conflicts, or disasters).
  3. Developmental loneliness- experiencing a loss of meaning in your life (such as physical/psychological disabilities, significant separations).
  4. Internal loneliness- the perception of being alone without being physically alone (caused by mental distress, low self-esteem, or poor coping skills).
  5. Emotional loneliness- feeling disconnected, isolated and disengaged in your romantic relationship, or in your relationships with friends and family.

Determine what type of loneliness you are feeling in order to know what to do about it. 

2. Know why you’re feeling lonely

In certain situations, your loneliness can be temporary and time will solve it. But in others, it takes a lot more work to dig your way out of it. Regardless of how easy or difficult it will be to stop feeling lonely, knowing your why will bring you one step closer to overcoming loneliness.

3. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable

How many times have you avoided a social event because of fear of judgement? What about the times you thought you were not good enough, so you didn’t even give it a try?

The only way to connect with others is to teach ourselves to be more vulnerable.

Vulnerability is defined as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. And to some of us, this sounds scary. But there are two ways to look at vulnerability. On the one hand, we associate being vulnerable with weakness. We perceive vulnerability as such when our social interactions are dominated by fear of what others may think of us. On the other hand, we associate it with courage and confidence.  We see vulnerability as a positive when people are daring enough to show it. 

So allow yourself to be vulnerable at times. It can help you find your way out of feeling lonely. And keep in mind, we are all flawed, and we all have weaknesses. The only difference is, some choose to deal with them while others hide them.

4. Find a passion

A passion keeps your mind busy, and gives you a sense of belonging. As you can see, I didn’t say find your passion, I said find a passion because any passion you may have will do. If you wait to figure out your main passion, chances are it will take a really long time to find it. And in the meantime, your loneliness will deepen.

Therefore, find a passion you can act upon immediately. Join an online community, and/or participate in nearby events related to your passion. Surround yourself with like-minded people to increase your odds of developing meaningful friendships.

5. Go places

The best thing you can do when you feel lonely is to go places, and catch sight of other people. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go to a nearby library, or volunteer.

Become active in an online community, it is a great way to feel less alone, but strive for in-person human interaction. Also, try to let your guard down when you talk to someone, you’ll invite the other person to do the same. As a result, the overall quality of your social interactions is bound to improve.

At last, I believe that at the root of loneliness stands fear. When we feel lonely, we are afraid of getting hurt, of getting criticised, and of not measuring up. So we stand behind our shields in order to avoid being vulnerable, or trusting. We isolate ourselves. But the importance of social connection can’t be overstated. It is as crucial to our overall well-being as food and water. Therefore, don’t take feeling lonely lightly. Muster the courage to do something about it. Focus on how you make others feel rather than what you say, or how you’re perceived. You can do it.

Here is a great book to read that might help you through the process: Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown.

 

Read next: https://inspoplace.com/2019/11/overcome-social-anxiety/

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