Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Loneliness can be so incredibly painful. Building real and authentic connection and relationship is a true skill, and something we are most often not really thought how to do! I want to speak on the topic of loneliness and share some practical tools that have helped me.
This post can be viewed as a YouTube-video here
Loneliness can be so incredibly painful.
I would even go as far as to say that it is a pandemic in our society right now, and one of the most dangerous. It literally takes lives.
The experience of isolation is not just limited to the people that are physically alone, so many of us know oh so well the experience of feeling isolated even in a crowd.
Personally, I´ve had deep experiences of loneliness from a very early point in my life,
And it´s one of the most devastating experiences I´ve had in my life. For that reason, I know first-hand what it´s like. Sometimes, it just simply is not enough to hear someone say, “you are not alone”, because our reality really is telling us something different. The pain of loneliness can even be enhanced if we´re told that we should simply learn to enjoy solitude and alone time. As if something is wrong with us for feeling lonely, and we should simply learn how to cope better. This is simply not true. I am here to acknowledge that your pain is valid. Loneliness is real. It is not who you are, and it can absolutely ‘3’2be worked with.
Nothing is wrong with you for feeling the way you do. In fact, loneliness can be a very healthy signal showing us that we are living in an unhealthy situation. Also, I want to say that I think this loneliness a highly global experience right now.
Loneliness can come in many forms. As a kid, being rejected and not invited into play with other kids. Spending loads of time alone while the adults where busy. Going through something painful without anyone to talk to. Being invalidated for your perception of reality. Being forced to physically isolate. Going through health issues with no one visiting us. Looking at a group of friends, a seemingly happy family, or a romantic couple, and feeling the sinking feeling of not having the same. Being in a foreign country and not speaking the native language. Feeling like we´re so different that we cannot relate to others, and it feels like no one can relate to us. The list goes on.
For some of us, the loneliness might just be a short and passing experience, while for others; it´s all we know. It´s become our only reality to the point where we are not even aware that we are lonely, and we are like fish swimming in deadly water without knowing it is deadly.
I think it´s safe to say that many addictions, and even fatal outcomes such as suicide, often comes from a place of feeling so devastatingly alone to the point where it no longer feels bearable. And the only way out seems to be trough solutions that are deeply detrimental and destructive.
For most of us, if not all, interpersonal connection and emotional intimacy is a basic human need. If we are used to distracting ourselves with work, substances, and entertainment, we might not notice that there is a deep loneliness lurking underneath the surface, and instead we just feel nagging pain or void.
In my own life, I´ve had to work through the trauma that led to the experience of deep loneliness. I´ve had to learn how to feel safe to truly open to deep connection, and how to both become more relatable and see the relatable in others. Building real and authentic connection and relationship is a true skill, and something we are most often not really thought how to do!
Even after having worked on this, I still sometimes find myself in lonely moments. As someone who is currently solo traveling in a country where I´m just slowly starting to learn the language, there are moments where I can feel painfully alone. But now I know that there is a way out of it.
Here are some practical tools
1. Taking inventory: Start by taking honest inventory. On a scale from 1 to 10, how lonely do you feel? What is the loneliest you been in your life, and when? Becoming honest and real about it is a good beginning, and from here we can start transforming it.
2. Seek out help! If you´ve had and are having severe experiences with loneliness, healing will happen with another (safe) human being there. If the trauma involves feeling totally alone, it´s allot to expect that you should be able to work through it alone. Seek out help. I know this one can be hard if you are used to managing stuff on your own or feel unsafe around others. But there are people out there who is ready and available to help you. Look for the kind help that resonate with you.
3. Research the art of relationships: Start to become a researcher of relationships! It truly is an art, and a very interesting one. Start researching techniques and approaches on how to more easily connect with others. I recommend the book “The anatomy of loneliness” by Teal Swan.
4. Curiosity: One of my favorite ways to connect to people is to become really curious. Every individual has something unique and interesting about them. If I want to get to know someone, I start to look for the things in them and their life that I can ask questions about. Not like an interrogation, obviously, but in a friendly way. Most people love to feel the interest and active listening from another person. And if they are equally as curious about me, it´s often the start of a good conversation, or if we really are a good match, it can even the beginning of a friendship. Don´t make relationships about trying to get people interested in YOU, or only speak about yourself. Start to break your bubble by wanting to learn about others.
5. Social anxiety: I want to truly acknowledge that for those of us who have anxiety in relation to other people (which is so, so many of us in some shape or form), even the thought of striking up a conversation, or being vulnerable by opening up to someone, can be terrifying. This is a big topic and deserves a whole book. I want to repeat; start looking for the right kind of support system and help for you specifically.
6. Consider making changes: Start to look at where in your life you can make changes. How are the options for being part of a community in your area? Would it be helpful to move somewhere else? Maybe seek out a shared space living-situation instead of living by yourself? Is there something you´ve been wanting to try, that you are ready to go out of your comfort zone to do? For me, starting to dance salsa was a big door opener for loads of new people and social gatherings. It´s worth mentioning that if you have a strong pattern of isolation or social anxiety, this might still show up even when you make changes. Deep patterns can only be worked on by going back to the root and resolving it. This takes me back to point 2 and 5 about seeking out help.
7. Break out of unhealthy situations: If the loneliness comes from trying to fit into the wrong crowd and loosing yourself on the way; break out. Even if this means spending some time by yourself before finding your true kind of crowd, it´s worth it.
There is a whole lot more to say about this topic. For now, I want to finish off by saying: we are many, many out here. I am with you. Reach out for help, take small baby steps that all together will become a big leap. I know you are in a painful place right now, I feel you. There are people here to support you. Together, we got this.
If you know someone who is struggling, please don´t hesitate to reach out a hand.