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Lonely is only one word
Here is a definition from Google:
"1. Sadness because one has no friends or company. 2. (of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation." Here are excerpts from Dictionary.com's definition: "Affected with, characterised by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone." "Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship." "Solidarity, without company, companionless, remote from places." Definitions aside, we get the idea that loneliness connects to isolation, lack of companionship, remoteness, disconnectedness. I know growing up, I connected loneliness by just the physical. If someone was with me, then technically I wasn't lonely. But over the years I struggled with the 'feeling' of being lonely even when I out and about with others. On the outside, I was physically there with people interacting. But on the inside I felt mentally disengaged from what was going on, feeling inadequate, and fighting the thoughts in order to enjoy and appreciate the moment. I think this is why I dated so many men in my early 20's - I so desperately wanted to avoid that feeling that I became my own worst enemy. And sadly men could smell it from a mile away and took advantage of it.... and sadly women did too. I was so worried about being lonely, that I never wanted to say 'no' because I wanted to always have a circle of 'friends'. I wanted to be liked. But despite all of this, I still struggled with the feeling of loneliness: there in the physical, but lost in the emotional. I never wanted to recognise that connection, because then I wouldn't be 'normal', people would think I was a freak and reject me. I couldn't deal with the idea of being hated and rejected.
And guess how I began to recognise and learn about my mental loneliness? Through physically taking the time to be by myself. Actually noting my behaviours, thoughts, patterns. When did I feel at my loneliness? What prompted these feelings? What am I physically thinking to characterise this feeling? Am I in the moment or am focused too far into the future or my triggers? I noted that I made some pretty stupid decisions while the feeling rushes over me. I rob myself of happiness in the moment when I engage in the feeling of loneliness. I rob myself of potential to move forwards each day. I lose sight of my capabilities and the good things that are happening in my life.
Do I still get those rushes of loneliness? Of course I do! I had one this morning while I was making breakfast. My daughter was in bed, dog was literally right next to me and the cat kept meowing. But I recognised and worked through that feeling and I feel fine now. Today might be one of those days where I am a little up and down, but I am always committed to working through it.
Here are some five gems I have worked on over the years to help me work through my feelings of loneliness:
1. Loneliness is a state of mind rather than a physical state: Like I said, I have had times where I have felt more connected while hanging out my washing on my own than having ice-cream with a friend. Recognise the feeling and remind yourself that it's ok to feel like that. Remind yourself that you are a beautiful, amazing and capable human being worthy of awesome things.
2. Check where you're at when the feeling rushes over: Is something bothering you? Have you drifted from where you are right now? Re-create awareness of what's in front of you right now. Touch something directly in front of you, take a sip of water and take in the feeling associated with drinking the water, listen to the sounds that are happening right now. Bring yourself back. If you're not busy, recognise the trigger.
3. Recognise the trigger.... and then disarm it: Every weapon has a trigger and loneliness is no different. What triggers this feeling? Separation, divorce, death, illness, financial problems? Work thorough ways you can regain yourself. Maybe write a note, read something motivational, go for a walk, draw a picture, go to the gym... find your method of disarming.
4. Appreciate being physically and mentally on your own: To appreciate the company of others, you need to be ok with being on your own. These are the days of recharge and learning more about yourself. There is nothing wrong with going to the movies by yourself or having a wine somewhere on your own!
5. Change takes time: Working though this takes time. I have been working through this for about 5 years. Although I am better each day, I still have some way to go. I still have crap days but there are way more great days than crap ones and I always am reminded of that.
I hope this has maybe helped or inspired you today. Feel free to share with someone who you know might be going through this at the moment.