Besides depression, I can’t think of another feeling that can crush my entire world.
I know. I’m being a major Debbie Downer here. But believe me, I’m not saying this to dump on you or spread a negative vibe. I promise.
But what I am saying is this –
Even though loneliness frustrates me, I’ve learned that with some effort I can live through it.
And the good news is, so can you.
Yes, despite my rant, I do believe that there is light on the other side of lonely.
Below, I’m sharing 3 tools that I use to get through those lonely feelings. As well as some simple steps you can take right now to put these tools to work for you.
Now, these tools aren’t going to cure the lonely but with a little bit of effort, I know they can help you get through them.
If you get anything out of today’s newsletter, I want it to be this…
No matter where you are in the world. No matter why you feel lonely. And no matter what those pesky thoughts inside your head may be telling you.
You Are Not Alone…ever:)
In addition to the list below, I found an incredible Ted Talk on loneliness by psychologist Guy Winch. If you want deeper insight on the topic of loneliness and emotional health, I highly recommend you watch his talk – Why We All Need To Practice Emotional First Aid.
Now, onto the 3 tools.
Stop What You’re Doing And H.A.L.T
I’ve mentioned H.A.L.T before and you’ll no doubt hear me mention it again and again.
It’s the best piece of advice I received while an Al-Anon student and one that I continue to use in my every day life.
If you’re not familiar with H.A.L.T here’s how it works.
When your mood gets rude, H.A.L.T gives you the space to stop and ask yourself if you’re,
Before I started using H.A.L.T, I thought there was something wrong with me. My mood felt so unpredictable. And since I never knew which version of myself would show up from one minute to the next, I’d isolate, big time.
And isolating is the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling lonely.
But with H.A.L.T I’m able to figure out where my mood might be coming from.
Now this is great if you’re in a bad mood and you want to figure out why. But what if you already know that you’re lonely?
When you’re lonely, H.A.L.T can help you weed out other irritations.
Think of it like this.
Pretend someone hands you four balls and demands that you juggle them all at the same time. Well if you’ve never juggled before keeping those balls in the air will frustrate the hell out of you.
But if you’re handed just one ball and all you have to do is throw it into the air and catch it you’d be able to do that, right?
If you know you’re lonely and hungry, you can take some of the pressure off of yourself by eating. The same goes with being angry and tired.
This approach take practice and awareness. It’s not about perfection it’s about progress. And a willingness to try something that you’ve never tried before.
Your Action Step: Stop what you’re doing right now and practice running through a H.A.L.T scan. Seriously. Ask yourself right now if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If you answer yes to any of these, take action. I’m sitting at my desk right now and just ran through a H.A.L.T scan and discovered that I’m hungry. So, I walked into the kitchen and grabbed my go-to snack, almonds.
Get Curious Like A Cat
The best part about making brownies is eating the raw batter. Today, I could kill an entire batch of that beautiful brown dough.
But it wasn’t that long ago that even thinking about brownies made me feel lonely.
I know it sounds bizarre but let me explain.
When I’d get home from school, as a kid, my older brother and I made brownies together. And I adored every minute of it.
But my brother was an addict. And thanks to his raging addictions, he disappeared from my life and so did the brownies.
Fast forward a decade later and there I am, a young adult, standing in the middle of the baking aisle at the grocery store, crying in front of a box of Duncan Hines brownies.
It took me years to make the connection between the brownies, missing my brother and the wave of loneliness that repeatedly crushed me.
But once I got it, I realized the only way to deal with the loneliness was to deal with the pain I felt about my brother.
As a result, I’ve learned to get curious about what I’m feeling and picking out my triggers.
For example, I’ve figured out that watching too much T.V. can trigger loneliness. As well as spending too much time zoning out on the Internet.
Getting curious is not going to get rid of your feelings but it can help you get through them.
So why not get curious the next time you’re lonely? Ask yourself questions like…
- When did I start feeling lonely?
- Who haven’t I talked to in a long time?
- Who have I been spending my time with?
- Who’s the last person I called on the phone?
- Is there a pattern here that I can curious about? Does this feeling creep up at a certain time of day, month, week or year?
Write down your answers and keep them safe in a notebook or journal. Try it out for a month or just a week. Whenever you feel the lonely creeping in, go back to your notes and see if you can pick out a pattern. Maybe you’ll discover that you’re also triggered by too many hours in front of the T.V. Who knows!
You have nothing to lose by getting curious about loneliness. There’s only relief, awareness and lots of gooey brownie batter to gain.
Your Action Step: Get out a pen and a fresh slice of paper or open up your journal. Write out the last time you remember feeling lonely. Get curious about what brought it on and write it down. Think about what you did to comfort yourself and write that down. If you didn’t do anything, write that down. There are no wrong answers here. All you’re doing is getting your emotional life out of your head and onto the paper so you can see it. Stay curious and don’t give up!
When Feel Legs Burn, Remember Burn is Temporary
Here’s something you were probably never told about loneliness – there’s no cure for it. I know that sounds harsh but I wish someone would’ve told me that 10 years ago.
Because I would’ve wasted less time looking for a cure. And more time learning how to feel the feeling so I could let it go.
With loneliness, sometimes the only thing you can do is…feel it.
I know, that sounds like the worst advice ever but it’s the truth.
There was an instructor at my gym that used to say, “When you feel legs burn, remember burn is temporary.” I swear that’s exactly how she said it.
During class, while my entire body felt on fire, I wanted to punch her lips off her face. But after class and a long hot shower her advice clicked.
Just like the burn at the gym, your feelings are temporary. And so is loneliness.
No matter how bad the lonely gets just remember the burn is temporary.
Your Action Step: Get your hands on a calendar. It could be the calendar on your phone, on your computer or the planner you carry around in your bag. The next time you feel loneliness creeping in, mark it down in your calendar and track the number of days, hours or minutes that feeling sticks around. I do this all the time, especially since I’m prone to moodiness. Follow that feeling, keep your eye on it. I bet you’ll not only discover some interesting patterns but you’ll also see that the feeling is indeed temporary.
A Few Extra Bits On Feeling Lonely
When Life Happens
Sometimes loneliness can get triggered by something that’s completely out of your control.
And yes, I’m talking painful events like – a death, an overdose or a divorce. Really any event that disrupts life in an irreversible way.
When life catches you off guard, there is nothing wrong with seeking out professional help and guidance.
You’re not weak. You’re not alone. And this is not the end.
It sucks to spend the holidays alone. I know this because I’ve spent loads of them completely solo.
And it was during these times of year, while it felt like the rest of the world was high on happiness and good cheer, that I wanted to crawl into the core of the earth and die.
It’s dramatic I know but that’s how isolated I felt.
Though the years, I came up with a tun of creative ways to soothe that lonely feeling. But there was one gem of insight, a therapist shared with me, that put the holidays in perspective. And it was this…
Each holiday only lasts one day. And then poof, it’s gone.
When I realized that each holiday had a short shelf life, I no longer felt overwhelmed by my lonely feelings. I let go of the fear that my loneliness was going to last forever and that if I felt it, the pain would destroy me.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to deal with loneliness? Sharing your insights, below in the comment section, could help someone else struggling with the same feeling.
And of course, if you’re digging this post then please share it.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
Until Next Tuesday,
P.S. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, have a wonderful holiday!