Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.—Mother Teresa
Loneliness. It is one of the tragedies that plagued mankind since then. Romanticized in art and poetry, loneliness has never been easy to handle. William Wordsworth thought of the daffodils when he was lonely and had personified them as something that has eyes that flashed at him whenever he is in a pensive, solitary mood. The Japanese legendary poet, Li Po expressed the intensity of solitude by saying that he was at after the wine party, he went home–‘alone in the moonlight. One of the most recent work talking about loneliness is the late 22-year old writing prodigy, Marina Keegan who talked about her loneliness but suggesting that she wanted the opposite of loneliness.
Whatever walk of life we belong, whichever country we belong, loneliness sometimes haunt us even in the most unwanted and unexpected situations in our lives. Is loneliness normal? Shall we embrace loneliness all the time? Certainly not, so how can we minimize being lonely?
Loneliness happens. It was said that people have varying levels of needs to feel included. Some may feel comfortable with only a few company, however, some may need more–something that is hard to address and may make certain people lonelier than the other.
As humans we want to feel that we belong and if that need is not fulfilled, then loneliness comes in. Some may feel more chronically upset than others and have very low ability to self-regulate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Another reasons is that some may have very low self-esteem and or unworthy, and thus are not willing to connect with others.
Results from the UCLA Loneliness Scale revealed that nearly half of the 20,000 respondents find their relationships meaningless. It is noteworthy to mention that Generation Z has the most intense forms of loneliness. Loneliness has been widespread in the US and and a number of European countries in that health authorities and therapists have been continuously finding reasons and ways on why we get lonely.
Here are 5 tips on how not to be lonely. Then again, some of these tips may not be applicable to your personality or to the specific conditions you are in, and thus it is a must to reflect on each suggestion and pick which is good for you.
Be open. Be vulnerable. Connect and live.
Marina Keegan dished the opposite of loneliness–and what is that? Intimacy. Revealing yourself, giving a part of yourself to others and feeling your efforts get reciprocated. These days, social media distorted our concept of intimacy making us feel ‘connected’ to a hundreds, even thousands of people who we keep in touch online. However, this is not the kind of intimacy that can dispel the darkness of being lonely. It is still real-, face-to-face, soul-to-soul connections that would feel that wide, gaping hole in our soul that we are trying to ignore. Friendships. We should go back to our friends and share to them that unpretentious, unguarded, unfiltered versions of ourselves that are often stifled with the demands of social media.
Build friendships and not stop thriving on instant friends.
Clinical pysychologist, Ellen Hendriksen claimed that our concept of friendship has been greatly affected with our modern-day concept of instant gratification. In truth, genuine friendships and connections are built over time. There is no such thing as instant friends, and according to her, it takes around 6-8 conversations before friendship can be established. Friendship is built on increments and not in that instant we walked into a party and found a new BFF.
The long, incremental process, however does not mean that we should stop expanding our social circle. Practicing small talk to people you encounter every day is a good way to combat loneliness. Small talk is a good skill that we should practice in a variety of situations if we want to gain more friends.
Consider seeking momentary relief from ‘non-human’ entities.
You don’t have to be needy and hungry for attention to alleviate feelings of loneliness. Getting yourself a pet, enjoying your favorite comfort food or being engrossed in a favorite book or TV show would surely help a lot. Taking solace in these things will keep you busy and make you forget being lonely. This would be especially true if you share your interests with others of your kind. Getting in touch with other pet lovers, or meeting someone who also likes books will make you happier. Joining a cause-based community will also elevate your sense of belongingness and worth.
Embrace who you are. Accept your need for solitude.
Some people are just intrinsically introverts but often take some time to accept who they really are. And, because we are made to believe that having lots of friends is the key to happiness, introverts sometimes feel that they don’t belong and that introversion is a negative thing. Simply, stop comparing yourself to others. And in turn, stop pushing others to be somebody they are not. In most parts of my life, I have always struggled to fit in a community which values large family circles and groups of friends. Big groups wears me out, I see large family circles as dysfunctional and a bit contrived. It took me years to finally embrace myself, to realize that I need to be alone to write. I’d rather be alone and be comfortable with a few friends.
Believe that loneliness is temporary. Some days are dead boring and thus you have to let them pass, let them go.
Just like the seasons of our environment, our lives would inevitably undergo ups and down. Life isn’t always fun, and we have to deal with it. The good thing, however, is that loneliness is not final, and we have to be patient with ourselves until we find a way to address loneliness.