Loneliness is only an opportunity to cut adrift and find yourself. In solitude you are least alone.
Feeling a little lonely lately?
You’re not alone.
While this experience is sometimes confused with sadness or even depression… in reality, loneliness is its own thing. And according to a recent advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in our country.
Fortunately, if you’re willing to get curious about the loneliness you’re experiencing, there’s usually something to be learned from it.
Today we’re sharing 5 things your loneliness might be trying to tell you:
1. You’re human.
You could be the toughest, most resilient person on the planet, and it still wouldn’t matter: Sooner or later, you’d feel lonely. Likewise, you might have an enviable life, filled with reasons to be grateful. Again, this doesn’t make you immune. Loneliness is baked right into the human experience. So, when you feel it, try to shift your perspective to view that lonely feeling for what it is: Proof that you’re alive.
2. You desire a closer connection.
Sometimes loneliness is the nudge we need to deepen our connection with someone in our lives. If you find yourself feeling lonely sitting on the couch watching Netflix with your partner, for example, this might represent an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level or in a new way. Even sharing some of what you’re feeling can begin to deepen that connection. So, don’t be afraid to practice a little healthy vulnerability and speak up.
3. Focus on quality over quantity.
Loneliness often gets mistaken for something else, especially when we’re surrounded by people. Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, social media contacts– you’ve got more relationships than you can keep up with! But while it seems like these numbers should matter, when it comes to relationships, turns out it’s all about quality, not quantity. Take stock of the people in your life and ask yourself: Who do I feel closest to? Who do I want to feel closest to? By centering your focus on just a few key relationships, you’ll reduce the overwhelm that comes with managing too many social ties, and you’ll experience the emotional intimacy that comes from nurturing those close bonds.
4. You’ve got untapped strengths to share.
When we feel lonely, there’s a natural impulse to look to the people close to us to “fix” that feeling. We tell ourselves that if only our friends invited us out more, or if only our partner were more tuned in to our needs, then we wouldn’t feel this way. And while it’s certainly important to practice effective communication with the people around us, the truth is our happiness (and our loneliness) is largely within our control. One way to put the responsibility back into your own hands is to put your talents to good use. Help a neighbor complete a task, write an old friend a letter, or create something just for the fun of it. You might be surprised to find the loneliness subsiding as you tap into your natural strengths.
5. There’s goodness all around; notice it.
Part of what makes loneliness feel unsettling is the sense of distance it creates between us and the world around us. One surefire way to bridge that divide? By developing your awareness of the present moment. Not only is mindfulness a powerful tool for promoting your emotional wellness everyday, but it’s also a great way to get comfortable rolling with the inevitable (but temporary) waves of loneliness that life brings your way.
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Struggling with loneliness? Ready for some extra support?