The picture here was taken this week by me while walking alone on the beach. As I took the picture, I sensed in myself a feeling of being alone and experiencing this. I also realized that, several years ago, I would have felt lonely. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Part of it might have been that I had no one else with me to share this miraculous moment of the sun setting between houses with anyone or just the fact that, at that moment, I felt alone.
It is not an unfamiliar feeling for me. There were many points along my life’s journey when I felt very alone and felt loneliness. As a youth that suffered with relentless bullying and developed a great distrust of both kids my age and the adults that did nothing to help me, I found myself alone and lonely many times. Of course, I would find out that research has shown this to be both a common problem with both bullying survivors and even the bullies. Loneliness is a dangerous feeling when it goes unnoticed. Just as Billy Joel points out in his song The Piano Man, when you are sharing loneliness, it’s better than being alone. I thought about what that means? I also realized they are two different words.
Alone is an adjective to describe that no one else is present with you. It doesn’t necessarily mean a negative feeling. It is just a description of a personal situation.
Loneliness is a noun describing a sadness within you, because you do not have any friends or company around.
These are quite different from each other when you look at the meaning. Being lonely is very painful if you find you are social and feed off of others around you. When I experienced a depressed state, this loneliness plagued me almost all the time, even though people would be around. That is because your mind does not see any feeling of social norm. I think this is an important distinction to understand.
The problem with loneliness, is that it is typically an internal issue with people. Because we are always with ourselves, are we truly ever alone? What does it mean to feel lonely?
I think that loneliness is tied to sadness and depression as per the definition. It seems there is little way out of that feeling, other than fighting it internally. Sometimes, you want to be alone, but all of us are human and that makes us want to thrive and survive with human contact. When that part of our lives becomes something we don’t want due to abuse or feel we are not worthy to have, we put ourselves at the mercy of our minds and our self-worth.
If you find yourself in this situation of loneliness, there are some ways that psychology says you can battle this feeling.
- Find someone you can take care of – This may be a family member or maybe you volunteer to work with the elderly. You may also care for animals, as they usually show unrequited love. The main thing is that you are in a nurturing mode when you do this.
- Get a good night’s sleep – Bad sleep is known to cause feelings of loneliness. Yes, this is tough if you are in a worry, anxiety, and depression. But finding a medical expert that can help you learn to sleep better and get enough sleep is another proven way to find relief.
- Figure out what is missing in life – Many people experiencing loneliness are also missing things that alleviate that in their life. Maybe it’s going to a gym, finding a group to do things with, or even making a “bucket list” and start working to cross things off. All of these will help fight your mind and that feeling.
- Find ways to connect with people – Finally, this one is the obvious one. It also shows how being alone can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. This is so hard when your mind wants you to feel lonely. But there are so many groups out there that will allow you to connect with other like-minded individuals. I know that I use meetup.com to find others that are also looking for ways to avoid being alone. Make the move and join others.
As you look for ways to avoid the feelings of loneliness, the biggest thing to keep in mind that there are solutions. It is a struggle to find ways, when your mind fights these feelings, but your happiness or even contentment with YOU is the most important thing in your life. It’s worth the work you put in and others are waiting on the other side to help. Many times I am happy to be alone, but a look to avoid loneliness. And as Billy Joel sang, that’s just better.