For those that have experienced loneliness you will know how upsetting it can be. I have had periods of loneliness throughout my life and thankfully now I experience this very rarely.
My home was often full of people, if it wasn’t the family it was foreign students or friends of my mums so generally a busy household. Even though there were a lot of people at times I felt deep loneliness, the sort of hurt that gets you right in the chest where you can’t breathe or think straight.
What was making me lonely? Usually we feel lonely for 2 reasons, one is because we aren’t mixing very much with others and the other is that we aren’t feeling understood or cared for. I definitely fitted into the second category.
I felt totally misunderstood by my parents, my father was an alcoholic and my mum was very busy running the house and working. I felt very disconnected and it wasn’t until I attend an Al-Anon meeting (for those affected by someone else’s drinking) that I finally felt connection. I was hearing people say the things I did and share feelings that I could relate to. The relief was immense, it was like receiving a cure to an illness that I had suffered for many years.
Because living in an alcoholic home is very unpredictable and scary at times, I decided the safest option was to isolate myself. I often went into my bedroom and listened to music, played on my computer or just found something to do that kept me out of the chaos. I felt deep sadness, I didn’t really want to be alone but it was better than the alternative. I wanted someone to understand how I felt, really get me but unfortunately that wasn’t available to me at the time.
Having a huge longing for something you can’t have is extremely frustrating, I started to feel sorry for myself and blame myself for why I didn’t connect with people. I couldn’t understand why my mum and dad didn’t take the time to understand me. I had no control over the situation as I was young and didn’t really understand fully what was going on.
It wasn’t until my adult life that I was able to improve my relationships with others and understand more about what I needed and how to express my feelings. Opening up wasn’t something I did as a child but it was something I had to learn as I grew up if I wanted the connection I so longed for.
Whenever we feel anything it is our bodies way of telling us something isn’t right and we need to pay attention.
Once you know the reason for your loneliness, consider:
• What is it that is making you feel lonely – take your time and persevere until you get there
• Talk to others – interact – connect (online and offline)
• Think of those you have a great connection with and open up to them
• Compare yourself to others only for information not punishment – others may share their experiences on blogs which you may relate to
• You need to get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise, also you may realise your self-esteem is affected, you may feel stressful due to feeling lonely or something else and it can affect your mental health or if you have a mental health illness this can make you feel lonely
• Get professional help if you need to
I have spent over 15 years transforming myself and dealing with personal challenges and I invested in therapy and believe this is a massive help, not everyone likes seeking professional help but there are lots of alternatives. I also use Emotional Freedom Technique which is amazing and can shift negative emotions on the spot, check out a quick breathing demo here.
Over the years I have joined online Facebook groups that have allowed me to feel connected and chat to like-minded people who get me and my situation. That could be business related or personal. I have also volunteered for charities that I care about like The Salvation Army, I help feed the homeless which is something close to my heart. I also now volunteer for NACOA as a way of helping others feel they aren’t alone and to know there is help out there if they are affected by someone else’s drinking.
Those things help me feel connected and understood which is important to me for my well-being. That may sound overwhelming but start small and grow into it, maybe online is easier and more convenient. Listen to yourself and do what feels right.
Not long ago I realised I was comparing myself to others in business, seeing what they had achieved and how I wanted what they had. It was doing me no good and I realised that actually we are all at different points in our life and just because they are where I want to be, doesn’t mean I won’t get there. I’ve no idea what they have been through to get there, so now I’ve come up with a saying I share often with people which is “compare for information not punishment”.
Some people are able to compare and use it as a motivation and inspiration but not everyone is able to do that, I think just be mindful if you are expecting more of yourself that you can realistically achieve right now. Don’t forget just because you don’t have something now, certainly doesn’t mean you won’t get it at some stage. Nothing is forever.
Making sure we look after ourselves in a holistic way is vital, what I mean is to ensure we get a good balance of healthy food, do some exercise (even if it is parking further away than usual and walking), getting enough shut eye in although I appreciate that can be hard if you have things on your mind. The best way I found to help with an over-active mind is to write it all down, I remember my mum telling me this years ago and she said “once it’s out of your head you don’t have to worry about it any more”. I hate to admit it but she’s 100% on the money.
I also found having positive things written down that I could refer to when I felt low was helpful, it made me feel better. I started a gratitude journal too which made me feel more positive, our mental health is affected when these sort of things are absent so looking after ourselves in that way will improve low self-esteem.
One step at a time. One step forward today is one step more than yesterday.
Finally, remember that if you have been inspired to tell your story, you can find out how, here.