You’re not alone in feeling lonely.
In our culture, loneliness is an epidemic. Many folks lack supportive social and familial connections, welcoming work spaces and/or physical touch. It’s also possible to feel lonely when surrounded by others. People find themselves in headspaces that make it harder for them to connect with people in their interpersonal sphere. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s harder to take the risks involved in letting other people know you. If you are used to isolation, it becomes harder to reach out to others.
Inherent in loneliness is the experience of feeling unseen, unheard and/or misunderstood. “No one could possibly understand what I’m going through”, “No one knows the real me, and if they did, they wouldn’t like me very much.” We label our vulnerabilities as “untouchable”, beyond anyone’s capacity to understand, and we go further into the dark. We don’t talk about our loneliness and isolation; we keep it hidden, which only perpetuates the idea that we are alone.
It’s a common greeting to say, “Hey, how’re doing?” But do we really want to know how others are doing? Obviously, we don’t want to tell a stranger on the street that we’re fighting with our kids, or questioning a career choice, but nonetheless, there’s something revealing about this common statement and its ability to reflect the culture of isolation that most of us are residing within.
And much of the suffering experienced comes, at least in part from the idea that “no one could understand us”. The shame drives us into isolation, and often keeps us there with its continuous beat-downs. Shame has a strong will, with little evidence to prove its validity. Fear is a con-man who knows you too well.
Hiding your authentic self from others is a profound form of loneliness and isolation. And in our culture, it takes a lot of work to show up as an authentic version of yourself. Our culture sends strong messages around “how we should be” and encourages us to compare ourselves to one another. Our families may have taught us that we need to be a certain way to get love. Our authenticity gets lost in people-pleasing and we become possessed by the fear of rejection. Our true self gets covered up with layers of falsities that promise acceptance and love from the outside world. But at what cost?
As we lose ourselves, the ability to tune into thoughts, feelings and needs escapes us. There is a stark loneliness that occurs when we can’t recognize our inner experiences as uniquely our own. The true self gets lost in fears of rejection and social abandonment. If you lack a loving inner-world, you might seek external validation in a particular form that you’re unlikely to receive. We often fail to give ourselves what we need the most, and then we feel like the world outside of ourselves is falling short. We feel lonely. When we’re disconnected from ourselves and others we suffer profound loneliness—the loneliness of not belonging to anything.
Loneliness is a lack of belonging. So, how do we belong? And to what do we want to belong to? What do we need to realize, understand and recognize in order to belong to ourselves? What do we need to share with others in order to allow them to really see us? What do we need to feel safe in doing so?
3 Ways of Reducing Loneliness
1. Self- exploration
Journal to get clear about who you are and what you need. Journaling will help you stay connected to yourself and realize what you want and need from your connections with others. Journaling can also help you to connect with purpose and meaning, which combats loneliness and isolation.
- How do you want to connect with others?
- What are your values?
- Are you honest with others?
- Are you honest with yourself?
- How do you take care of yourself?
- Do you forgive yourself for past mistakes?
- Do you fear judgment from others?
- What challenges have you overcome? (Overcoming challenges provides us with an opportunity to give back to others)
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are you working on right now?
- Can you identify your thoughts, feelings and desires?
- What parts of yourself do you love?
- What do you hide from others?
- How can you be more gentle with yourself?
2. Connect with Safe People
Connection with others is imperative for our mental health. We can be fully connected to ourselves, but living with the complete absence of human contact can be detrimental. If you’re particularly isolated, you can take baby-steps towards coming out of isolation and creating a social support system.
Connect with a therapist
We all long to be seen, heard and understood. Engaging with a trusted psychotherapist is a way to feel less alone in your struggles. Validation is what so many of us seek, so why not work with a professional? A therapist can help you see yourself and your life more clearly.
Connect with Community
Community can be found online, in the workplace and in-person based on shared interest or friendship. Good community reminds us of who we are. This is a big step in coming out of isolation, but it’s necessary. Remember that many adults want friendship and connection, and many are too afraid to make the first move. There are online platforms like, meetup.com that hold many online and in-person community groups based on shared interests like hiking, sports, meditation and more.
3. Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation
Remind yourself that loneliness makes you apart of the human family. You are not alone in your struggle. Loving-kindness meditation is a form of meditation that sends love inwardly to yourself and outwardly to others. This meditation is born out of the spirit of compassion.
You can find loving-kindness meditations on YouTube.com, and the Insight Time App. However, the core of loving-kindness meditation is the repetition of the following statements (feel free to change them based on what you’re struggling with):
“May I be strong”
“May I be safe”
“May I love and appreciate others”
“May I have the power to accept and forgive”
“May all beings be strong”
“May all beings be safe”
“May all beings love and appreciate each other”
“May all beings have the power to accept and forgive”.