I love responding to questions, and I received one recently about loneliness. It was from Robert (name changed for privacy) who was feeling lonely because he doesn’t have a life partner. He writes, “It seems to me that all my friends have found their perfect mate, and I am the one who will be alone forever. Even if I have lots of friends.”
Can anyone relate? Have you ever desperately wanted something – or someone – you don’t have?
Feeling lonely hurts, and trying not to be lonely can be harmful and exhausting. How many of us have made questionable choices out of a need to escape loneliness? Count me in on that one.
Whereas some of us with jobs and families crave time alone, others find it torturous, like my friend who emailed the question. If you are tired of feeling lonely, or if you are driven to avoid being alone, know that it’s possible to find your way to peace.
The ironic thing about loneliness is that we’re not alone in feeling it. Here is what I wrote to Robert – maybe it will resonate with you as well.
I am so glad that my blog has been helpful to you, and I appreciate you contacting me for some help with loneliness.
I’ll share a few thoughts with you, but I don’t want to give you the impression that they are a quick fix. It often takes some time and skill to uncover the roots of our deepest feelings.
First, loneliness is an illusion that we are lacking something. Somehow you have convinced yourself that something you don’t have, a partner, will make you happy, and it sounds like you are repeating these lacking thoughts to yourself. Examples are: I’ll never find a partner. I need a lover to feel happy and complete. My friends are luckier and better off than me.
My suggestion is to notice the self-talk in your mind. Break it down. See if the thoughts are actually true and how they make you feel. Let’s take, “I’ll never find a partner.” This is a thought that projects into the future. Right now, you can’t know if you will find a partner or not. So thinking this thought, which isn’t even true, brings unhappiness to your life.
And “I need a lover to feel happy and complete.” Check inside to see if this is really true for you. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Can you think of benefits of not having a partner? How about time to work on yourself, waiting for the right one instead of choosing someone out of neediness, not having some of the troubles that often come with relationship. Can you find a way to appreciate this time for what it is? It is here as it is to offer something to you. What is it?
Second, take whatever you are lacking and consider giving it out to other people. If you think you lack intimacy, be even closer with people in your friendships. If you think you lack love, be more loving to yourself and others. If you think you lack fun, bring more fun into other people’s lives. You get the idea. As you offer out what you think you need, you can’t help but feel filled up.
Finally, see if you cannot resist what you are feeling. OK, so you feel lonely. Can you be curious about loneliness? What is it like? How does it feel in your body? You will find only thoughts and physical sensations. There is no actual “thing” called loneliness. When you start to break it down into its essence, you might find that the knot of loneliness begins to unravel.
So, Robert, you have been given something very important and valuable – this experience of loneliness. You can choose how you are going to use it, and the opportunity is here for you to free yourself from its grip. This will make you into an even more amazing partner when the right one comes along. Which reminds me – take this time to look at all the ways you could be a better partner. People of quality are not attracted to someone who is lonely and/or needy. Develop into someone that person of quality will be clamoring to meet.
I wish you well, my friend. Feel free to let me know how it goes.
Love to you,
Have you struggled with loneliness? What have you discovered about it? I’d love to hear…