It stifles and strangles you, pulling you under a heavy blanket of depression, pervading all that you see. Loneliness causes you to filter life through a lense of desolation and deep despair. Your spirit becomes so heavy with the weight of your isolation that you often feel like laying down, and dying.
I know. I’ve been there many times.
Whether you feel loneliness in a crowd, in your marriage, in your workplace, friend circle, religion, culture or simply by yourself, there is hope.
I’ve felt alone for many years of my life, either because of my temperament, or the religion that was imposed on me since birth, which taught that outsiders were “evil”, causing me to distance myself from everyone. Since then, I’ve left religion, but still find it difficult connecting with people.
While I still feel like an Outsider, in the year prior to meeting Sol, I discovered how to be alone but not feel lonely.
I want to share with you today how exactly I did this.
Today, I want to share with you how I turned my desert of loneliness into a garden of Solitude.
How to Survive Loneliness
I hope these 10 recommendations will open some new doors for you:
1. Learn to have fun by yourself again.
This was perhaps the most important method I used to overcome my loneliness.
When we lose friends or family members, or simply drift away from everyone around us, we tend to lose all sense of fun and playfulness, preferring to wallow in our misery instead. Realize that you can have fun alone, and that you don’t need to rely on others to make you happy. The person who can enjoy life alone can never have happiness taken away from them – to truly understand this is liberating!
I started by sticking flyers about diarrhea all over the walls and mirrors of a woman’s bathroom. I never knew fecal matter could be so freeing! Start by doing something small that you enjoy. If you used to like being wacky, be wacky. If you used to like being reckless, be reckless. Take small steps first.
Regain what you have lost, by yourself. You will be a stronger and better person that way. Why? Because you won’t rely on, or use, other people for your entertainment.
2. Learn to laugh again.
As you may know, laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. But what happens when you’re lonely? Well, chances are, you don’t laugh. At all. I didn’t.
When you really think about it, it’s pitiful how much we rely on others to make us happy. That’s why learning how to laugh again, by yourself is so important. It empowers you, and once again, it allows you to not use other people for your entertainment. They’re not vending machines after all!
If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, try putting on a funny film. Not only does it take your focus away from yourself and your misery, but it reboots those endorphins in your brain again. Funny pictures can also help, like those found on this website. Thank god for LOLCats.
3. Have intimate time. Alone.
I realize how intimidating that sounds. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you have a downstairs rendezvous or anything (although that could help).
My definition of intimate time is spending quality time with yourself, just like with a friend, or someone you love. I did this by spending a few minutes every day looking at myself in a mirror. I understand how bizarre that sounds, but staring deeply into your eyes and smiling everyday really makes you feel happy.
One result of this strange practice of mine was increased self-acceptance. Every day we tend to look at ourselves in mirrors to pamper and preen, but only superficially. But have you ever stopped to stare at yourself – earnestly? Try it, and you may be blown away at how much self-awareness you develop.
4. Become your own best friend.
I’m sure you’ve had a best friend in the past that now, for one reason or another, has drifted away. How did they treat you? Most people would say something along the lines of “nicely”, “considerately”, or “kindly”.
Is that the way you treat yourself? If not, why? Why can’t you be your own best friend? What is it about yourself that you’re so insecure or hateful about? Don’t you deserve love and respect just like everyone else? Exactly.
But many people falsely believe that a best friend can only be someone else. This is an absurd idea, because how can you learn to love and appreciate people truly, if first you don’t love and appreciate yourself?
Treat yourself kindly. Compliment yourself. Be considerate towards yourself, and show respect. This is the foundation of self-love.
5. Become your own counselor.
This is extremely important if you want to learn how to survive loneliness.
The most detestable thing in the world to me is to listen to people who moan and complain about their problems, but don’t stop to question why they’re happening, or what they can do to solve them. For gods sake, you have a brain, so use it! It’s natural for us to complain – it can be therapeutic – but constant whinging is a mental disorder that needs to be diagnosed.
Becoming your own counselor is invaluable because it allows you to explore your problems, rather than wallowing in them. Think: why are you lonely? When did it start? How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? What can you do to solve your loneliness? By the way, cudos for checking out this article, because in a sense, you’re being your own counselor now.
Analyzing your problems really does help put them into new perspectives. When I experienced loneliness I read self-help books, wrote in journals and mapped out my issues on pieces of paper to give them a visual perspective. The more I analyzed them and looked at them with different perspectives, the easier I found it to address my inner turmoil.
6. Be near people.
By nature, we’re social beings – it’s hardwired into us to crave the physical, emotional and psychological company of fellow human beings, hence the existence of loneliness. So go out and be near people.
If going out with your so called “friends” alienates and depresses you, like it did with me, go and sit anonymously in a public space. This way you can entertain yourself by people watching, and be in close proximity with other people. Although this doesn’t necessarily cater to your emotional and psychological needs, it’s a start, and was something I found useful in my loneliness.
Volunteer or join an interest group. Get out of your comfort zone.
There are many beautiful, kindred souls to be found in volunteering circles and interest groups. In fact, if you’re looking for a friend, this is the perfect way to meet new people. Loneliness tricks you into thinking that everyone is alike and that you won’t ever be able to find a kindred soul. Well you’re wrong. I had immense, horrifically mammoth expectations of people and managed to find someone who complemented me perfectly (Sol), after creating a meetup group of my own.
There is a kindred soul out there somewhere who understands your plights, who can echo your thoughts and who can connect with you in ways you wouldn’t think were even possible. I’m testimony to that.
8. Take care of yourself, physically.
Neglecting yourself when you feel down is tempting. Of what consequence are you when the whole world is dark, dreary and crumbling into a void of emptiness? None. But taking care of your body is the beginning of recovery. So be playful. Lighten up. Your body deserves comfort, grooming and pleasure.
Have a bubble bath. Lie on a soft pillow. Buy yourself a nice treat. Get a massage. Do your hair. Drink some tea or fine wine. The more I respected my body, the more I found respect for myself in honoring my comfort and taking care of my needs.
9. Listen to calming music.
Don’t make the mistake of listening to depressing, dark music to match your mood. It can be extremely tempting to do this, and I gave into the temptation many times.
However, in the end, I found that listening to soul-soaring music was the healthiest, and wisest choice. Whether it be pop, classical or ambient, listening to upbeat music actually increases the endorphins (the happy chemicals) in your brain.
Personally, my favorite thing was to get up YouTube and listen to ambient music playlists. If you want some keyword suggestions for YouTube, try “ambient music”, “harp music”, “dulcimer music”, “hang drum music”, and “singing bowl music”. All of these instruments are beautifully ethereal and will quickly take you beyond yourself.
10. Learn to love joy more than misery.
It’s quite possible that you’re in love with your misery at this very moment in time.
I know this sounds bizarre, but I thank Sol for his article which explains this in depth more, and for the development of this thought.
Unconsciously, I realized that I was accustoming myself too much to a miserable way of life. After a while, when all we know is isolation and depression, we tend to grow accustomed to this way of living. It becomes the norm. And in a sickly way, it even provides us with comfort. This means that when we try to break our “norm” of isolation and depression we become uncomfortable, suddenly thrown out of our comfort zone. This can lead to self-sabotaging behavior, and to unconscious decisions to find excuses to be comfortable in our misery again. Becoming aware of this can truly liberate you when learning how to survive loneliness.
I hope these suggestions were, and continue to be helpful to you.
If you have any tips on how to survive loneliness, please feel free to share them below.
Photo by: Jimmy Brown