To handle loneliness was one part of my life that is and was difficult to manage. While I tend to be a positive and upbeat individual, there are times where I feel lonely. A big part of that source stems from the lack of a love life. Both past and present.
However before dealing with the lack of a dating life, I was facing off with a different kind of loneliness. It’s a loneliness that I can imagine more people are familiar with. It’s a loneliness where you are around people but have a lack of connection. A loneliness where the relationships that are in your life lack depth and meaning to them. They feel superficial. And when you remove those superficial relationships, you are left with yourself.
If I wasn’t with my friends at school, I often spent a lot of my time alone. I had a paper route where I worked alone a large portion of the time. Whenever I played games, I was playing alone.
Looking over my teenage years, being alone was a large aspect of myself. It’s a bit strange considering I’m the type of individual now who wants to know people, build connections, and have engaging and interesting conversations.
But looking back at those teenage years and what I did has helped me to handle loneliness that I experience at times now. These days, I have a better grasp of loneliness and being able to handle it properly. With that in mind, here are some tips to help with that.
Be Mindful Of What You Say To Yourself
As a teenager, I wasn’t very kind to myself. When I was 13, I indulged in a lot of negative self-talk and a lot of that negative self-talk focused on my weight. I had an eating problem and considering I wasn’t very active, that weight piled on and never got burnt off.
This was my earliest experience of negative self-talk and it felt terrible. It was this aspect alone that brought me into a state of depression to begin with. You could almost say this state of depression was where I started to better handle myself.
Yes, I was still a particularly negative individual – even after recovery – but I left with an important lesson. This lesson was then reinforced further in my early 20s.
Harming your own character isn’t going to be helpful and will make handling loneliness even harder.
At the same time, while positive talking is the solution, you don’t want to be practicing it too much.
You need to strike a balance between these two aspects. Positive enough that you are hopeful but negative enough that you are still thinking realistically. It’s key that you don’t ignore one side or the other as each one is vital to your own development.
With this in mind, you want to be paying attention to what you are telling yourself. With no one else around, these are your thoughts at work. And these thoughts shape your reality. So pay attention to what you are saying, and if you don’t like it, make some changes.
You Are Your Best Friend
You will never ever betray yourself. While we can sometimes indulge in self-sabotaging, we can eventually recover from those damages. On top of that, you are your own best friend. When no one else is in your corner, you still have yourself and that can often be more than enough to handle any kind of situation.
I learned in my 20s that what you say to yourself matters, but also that you are your own best friend. Because you are stuck with yourself no matter what, it’s important that you learn about yourself and that you are comfortable with yourself.
It’s this particular advice that taught me that loneliness isn’t as bad as it’s played up to be. Absolutely, it can be depressing if you don’t know how to handle loneliness, however it can also be a great blessing.
After all, being alone taught me how to treat myself better on a mental level.
The point is trying to remind yourself that you are your best friend and that you’ll do what any best friend would do.
If you’re talking bad about yourself, your best friend will chime in with a positive fact about you.
Have any doubt? Your best friend will give you hope, point out solutions and offer you their support.
There are plenty of examples out there but in the end, you want to be looking at ideal characteristics of what a best friend would be in your life and create that person. In a sense, it’s an imaginary friend who dwells in a part of your mind.
Buying Things Won’t Help You Handle Loneliness
One aspect of loneliness that people might not realize is that lonely people have a tendency to gravitate towards material items. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that those who were lonely placed more attachment to material items. The researchers coined this behaviour as “material possession love” and we see it all the time.
Common examples are naming inanimate objects, or calling high ticket items “baby”, or someone who is showing off their collection of certain items.
While some of those examples can be justified (I have a collection of frog figurines on the basis of them being cool, unique, and cute.) in some situations, these traits can also be traced to feelings of loneliness. How so? Well since these individuals lack social connections, in their minds talking to cars, guns, stuffed animals or frog figurines can give them the same kind of emotions as talking to real people.
They’ve effectively replaced people with these objects. And while you think of that as strange, it’s not that far of a stretch as using social media to replace genuine connections with people.
Do yourself a favour and check your emotions before you go and buy something.
Loneliness Doesn’t Always Equal Depression
While I do experience loneliness, I am fully aware of what kind of loneliness I’m dealing with. I’m confident that finding a suitable partner or even a larger circle of friends will help me out a lot. But the different types of loneliness is worth exploring.
In particular, loneliness that can lead to depression.
Now ever since people uncovered some connection between loneliness and depression, people think all loneliness means you’re depressed. People can look at this piece of work and immediately assume that I am depressed.
After all, I’ve got a huge frog collection, spend a lot of my time alone, and so on.
But I’m not depressed.
As Sean Seepersad Ph.D. wrote in a piece on loneliness, there is a difference between loneliness and depression:
Loneliness is a perfectly natural reaction a person would have if his/her need to belong is not being met. Depression, on the other hand, is a much more general feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or dejection.
This lines up with my overall feeling of loneliness. The lack of a partner or lack of many good friends is the source.
Overall, the point of this tip is to reshape your own view of loneliness. While you can be lonely for a period of time, it’s important for you to fix these issues. For example, I can tolerate being alone and lonely as I have myself to keep me company. However, I still need to be getting out there making connections and forming bonds with people.
If you are feeling lonely, it’s worth looking at your current relationships and seeing how you can improve them. Or perhaps look at new relationships that’ll have a stronger positive influence on you. Through these tactics, you can handle loneliness better.
Handle Loneliness Through Hobbies
Looking back at my life, I was able to handle loneliness through the various activities that I did. There wasn’t any specific activity that I did, however these were things that I was passionate about or had an interest. Things like video games, or talking with other people over the internet.
You could also say that I handle loneliness today through focusing so much on my own business. Finding solace in my writing. And to that I’d have to agree to that as well.
You don’t need to be running a business in order to fight back against loneliness. That said, it does help to have something that you are passionate about in your life. So many of our lives are spent coasting through life and that is no way to be living.
Instead, find something that drives you and that gives you meaning. Better yet, find multiple things that you can do that give you those things. For me, it’s working out and my writing.
With that in mind, it also helps you to have a hobby that can get you involved in a community. These days, any sort of hobby out there has a community of some kind out there whether it’s online or around town. Do some research and see what’s out there.
You Can Be Okay With Loneliness
As I’ve spent more and more time with this loneliness, the more I come to realize it’s not that bad of a thing. Absolutely, I do want to overcome this challenge. And I’m doing so little by little by getting myself out there in what little ways I am.
However I consider normalizing these feelings to be beneficial. After all, this state of loneliness has allowed me to think about what kind of relationship I want with friends as well as my future partner. And more importantly, what kind of man I need to be in order to foster those relationships.
The fact I spent so much time alone has given me a better understanding of myself and how I wish to act and grow relationships around me that I value.
It’s strange, but I feel that this stemmed from me normalizing loneliness and being okay with doing things on my own.
All that said, there comes a time where you need to step out of that shell and apply that to the real world. If you yearn for better relationships, creating a fantasy world in your head feels good but isn’t practical. You want to be applying those things into the real world. The things that I find myself doing in my own life.
But for the time being, if you are feeling lonely, do take the time to be okay with that and use that as an opportunity to build yourself up in many ways. I spent years formulating my own opinions, view points, understanding myself, and more. I’d say it’s paid off.
You Can Handle Loneliness
A lot of people struggle with handling loneliness and I don’t blame them. There is so much going on in our heads and some of those things we are afraid to admit to ourselves. But if you want to be growing yourself, being able to handle loneliness in a safe manner is key and I think these tips will help you get there.
Loneliness is all a state of mind and it can be rewired, reworked, and form a valuable tool for you to leverage if you keep working on it.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon