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What To Do When You Are Lonely

March 27, 2013 Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

Sometimes people can feel lonely in a crowded room and others can feel totally comfortable home alone all day. Being alone is not inherently an issue. Many ancient sages or meditation masters can be alone and content. But this might be after they have gone beyond individual ego, and no longer feel separation from Oneness of the universe.

But for most of us humans, biologically and emotionally, we are social beings. We live in a communities because we need to. We can't do everything alone. We need help. Collaboration is our biggest survival skill. Our species would die off without it. It's natural to feel loneliness when you feel apart from your community (Loneliness and What To Do About Loneliness).

You Can Feel Lonely and Be Independent

We have contradictory ideas in this culture, that we are weak if we can't do things independently. But nobody, least of all successful people, do everything alone. Think of the top executives- they don't do things alone. Same for life saving doctors- they don't do surgery alone. Think of world leaders-they don't do things alone. Independence is overrated.

Also, co-dependence has gotten a bad rap from substance abuse recovery terminology. Think of the word literally outside of recovery's negative connotation. It quite accurately describes life in my family. We all need each other and are there for each other.

I don't know anyone who does everything alone. Then why do we hold ourself to this standard? I'll tell you why. It is usually a question of worth. It is usually a sign that some has a low sense of self worth, when they feel like they should be doing things alone. It's a judgment against themselves.

Feeling Lonely Includes Feeling Upset

On the other hand, lonely is totally different. Lonely is usually upsetting. It brings a melancholy, or worse, depression. Lonely is isolation, it breeds negative self identity, increasing sadness and anxiety. When we feel lonely, we feel like nobody loves us. We remember all of the evidence that points to this fact. (And for some reason, our mind gets empty of all the evidence against it.)

Loneliness makes us think:

I ruin everybody else's life.

I can't call anyone because I will be bothering them.

Nobody wants to hear from me.

I make bad decisions, I just shouldn't make anymore.

I don't know how to act in social situations.

I am awkward.

I have nothing to offer.

I'm a dork.

I mess up everything.

I can't do anything right.

I can't trust anyone.

I hurt people.

Everyone hurts me.

I am worthless.

I am unlovable.

Nobody wants me there.

Everybody leaves me.

Any of these sound familiar?

Even if none of these are true (which I can assure you they aren't!), when we are alone, sad and anxious, each of these thoughts can take on a life of their own, twisting through our memories to find even more evidence of why they are true. Pushing us further into our sadness and firming our commitment to even more isolation.

How to Deal With Feeling Lonely

If you feel this way, get to another person as fast as you can. Go against everything you are thinking about yourself and reach out to someone. You think you might feel worse, but it will make you feel better. You don't have to tell them how you are feeling, just talk about anything. Even if it is the weather. You just have to get out of your head. You know this works because it probably has worked in the past. Don't delay this time.

How about you? What do you do when you are lonely?

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace, share here Twitter@JodiAman, Google+ and inspire here Facebook: Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace.

APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2013, March 27). What To Do When You Are Lonely, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2013/03/what-to-do-when-you-are-lonely



Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

alexandra
March, 28 2013 at 12:30 am

I've been through some major changes the last 6 years of my life which have gradually contributed to feelings of loneliness. I am age 65, now a senior, who understands the loneliness of advancing years.
I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship for years though the abuse didn't really start until 25 years into the marriage. My husband retired in 2007. It was wonderful having financial security with a pension his early SS, but it brought on more abuse as he was home more frequently. We both still work part-time.
I find loneliness surrounding me. I can't relate to my husband as he's controlling and impossible to deal with. My daughter moved to another state back in 2007. My mother passed away in 2008 after I spent 8 years being involved with her in her nursing home. My best friend, who I helped a lot after her mother passed away in 2000, went into a nursing home because of disabilities 5 years ago. I kept visiting her until she became very confused over a year ago. I've had friends at work who left. One was an older man who always helped me as he once worked in the area of domestic violence. We became friends, only at work, but we shared many intellectual and artistic ideas. He left and is fading away as a friend.
I've joined activities at a Senior Center so as to keep my mind active and away from my abusive husband. It's helpful, but I'm still very lonely. However, there's little that I can do except to keep active and keep finding ways to be productive.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 28 2013 at 5:48 am

Alexandra,
I am glad you are keeping busy and finding community. Keep it up! As you get closer to people you'll feel a sense of belonging. This is what we all want to feel. Don't stop looking for that. And if you can, visit your daughter. I'm glad you haven't given up.
And glad you've reached out here! Sending you lots of love and hugs!
Jodi

Sarah E. Covell MEd, LMHC, NCC
March, 31 2013 at 7:28 am

I haven't heard you mentioning volunteering yet. Personally, when I have been feeling lonely and sad, and made an effort to volunteer or seek out someone who needed some help, I felt better! Studies are backing this up. Research is showing that the human brain changes--becoming less reactive--when we seek out and participate in charitable activities. And who know? Perhaps we make a new friend or two along the way!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 31 2013 at 9:45 am

Of course, Sarah! How can I forget. Giving to others helps us get out of our own mind. I heal myself through my service to others. Contribution to another's wellbeing and happiness gives us a robust sense of self! Thanks for mentioning it! Love,
Jodi

Nancy March
March, 28 2013 at 5:15 pm

What activities can mentally ill people do for themselves to make themselves happy and feel good instead of going to freinds all the time?Im not into crafts or sewing.I do alot of sitting activities like EASY Sudoko,or dell easy crosswords

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 28 2013 at 8:31 pm

Nancy,
Try something creative! Get those creative juices flowing. This will help you open your mind to new things and make you feel productive. Even better, be creative in a group class, were you can have a sense of belonging, but it doesn't necessarily center around the depression! Keep going!
Jodi

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Renee Highes
January, 3 2015 at 7:30 am

I just attended an artist class last night by myself. I am not at all artistic. What a delightful evening. It was a group of maybe 40 people and the hostess took great care on seating arrangements, putting me w a table of another single woman and people she knew were friendly. I was at first feeling pressure to keep up, but quickly realized there was no pressure except what I was putting on me. I isolate a lot and have stuggked w major clinical depression for decades, this was completely out of my comfort zone. So much enjoyed myself, will return and looking forward to trying other activities not depending on friends to be involved. Tired of doing what they want to do, not one was willing to participate in this. I say go for it, whatever it is! Renee

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 4 2015 at 12:01 am

Hi Renee,
What a fantastic experience! Thank you so much for sharing it here -- I think it will inspire others! Keep seeking enjoyment, and you'll find it!

standinguptomyillness
March, 28 2013 at 7:45 pm

oh my gosh!
this hit's home with me!
my thing is that i dont necessarily feel lonely, but i am afraid to be alone when i'm in a depressive mind set!
i pretty much find depression unbarable and need to endure it with someone by my side, whether that's physically or just texting or on the phone!
i love this article!
i just discovered this site and i'm feeling that
warm, brightening "omg other people go through this too!.. sweeet!".

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 28 2013 at 8:33 pm

So glad to have you here, Standing! Being alone is sometimes the worst thing you can do! You got the right idea!
Love,
Jodi

Tony
March, 28 2013 at 9:33 pm

What if you really don't have anyone to turn to? I find myself very isolated following the death of my parents 6 years ago & being unemployed due to long term complex health problems. I have no siblings or partner . I often feel like it's loneliness that is going to do for me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 29 2013 at 5:46 am

Tony,
There are so many activities to get involved in. One only needs to find something that they are interested in. Like a book club, a painting class, a "meet up," a gym, a church, playing pool, or darts, poker, fishing. You don't have to turn to these folks, just be doing something with them. Interact. They will still reflect back you and you will get a sense of yourself!
Love,
Jodi

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

pamshills
September, 10 2015 at 10:30 am

I live alone. My family; siblings etc don,t want to be bothered with me. My friends have their own families and Full lives to l ive, and CAN,T be bothered with me as much as "I" NEED to have them near me. I just Lost my last little companion birdie I LOVED and MISS SO DEARLY. I feel I have NOTHING LEFT to live for.I am in mourning,, and just can,t stand it any more, and don,t know what to do with myself now.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

linda
September, 20 2015 at 5:14 am

after I lost my little yorky, I searched and searched for another and God led me to 2 little boy yorkies, yes, the human/pet bond is so wonderful, they are our helpers. Without them I would be so lonely too hon, find a sweet pet. Even tho potty training almost drove me crazy!!!!!!, now they are so precious to me, I love my pets for bedtime too, so snuggly! Get another bird, they are so sweet. I just could not live without pets in my life.

Sabrina
March, 29 2013 at 9:10 pm

I have really bad anxiety around people, just any people in general with the exception of my immediate family who live with me. so, I don't have any friends. My boyfriend just left me about 3 weeks ago. so it's been hard not having anyone to talk to. Do you have any ideas on what I could do to help with my anxiety and by extension get out and meet people?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 31 2013 at 9:46 am

Like Sarah says, maybe get involved with people more vulnerable than yourself. This might be just the thing! XoJ

Frank Foster
April, 5 2013 at 7:58 am

I watch an old favourite movie when I'm lonely and cant meet with anyone... I know it going to give me good feelings and distract my negative self talk.
Cheers
Frank Foster
Queensland, Australia

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 5 2013 at 8:54 am

Great idea! If it is an old favorite, it is like the characters are old friends. I do the same with books. I feel close to the charcters!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Nan Cy
September, 11 2013 at 8:48 am

I like that suggestion, drama therapy helps me as well

CFCD
April, 6 2013 at 11:20 am

Yes...I recognise so many on that list...I made a decision that I realised I am over the fight...the struggle...I don't have anyone to turn to and feel so alone. I don't want to go through the PTSD journey anymore and not see any light at the end of the road.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 7 2013 at 6:36 pm

CFCD!
I know it seems so dark now, but you need to turn a light on somewhere to help in your journey. There are many ways to do this. But you are on that loneliness is your biggest problem. If you weren't so lonely, you may not be feeling this low. You have to get yourself around people, they don't have to know the depths of your pain right away, just be around them. Even join an online support group or see a counselor. We are here for you! All our love, Jodi

Teresa
January, 2 2015 at 8:23 am

There is light at the end of every tunnel, I promise,i have found with time I am my own light, taking baby steps helped me a great deal. Getting out of bed when the pain was so great I could not breath,
Crying for what I thought was for no reason at all.
It is a process, once through it. Things get better.
Everyone has there own journey,
even tho recently I find the people in my life often help me light my candle.
I hope I have not over stepped my boundaries here.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 2 2015 at 10:08 am

Hello Teresa,
You have most definitely not over stepped boundaries. HealthyPlace is about sharing experiences and people encouraging each other. Your thoughts are inspiring and beautiful, and I thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself.

Val
June, 18 2013 at 8:07 am

Thanks for this great post! Sometimes we forget that most people experience these feelings of loneliness or self-doubt from time to time and that we are never entirely alone.

michael
June, 21 2013 at 11:29 am

My situation is beyond cruel. I dont know what to do. I am bi-polar (real bad ) and stay home all day since I can no longer afford a car. I live in th ecountry side and wife goes to work. If any of you know the harshness and evilness of Bipolar and co-morbidity and then you combine loneliness with it, its a bad brew. People stay away from me becuase my brain focuses on negativity. I cant control it and my eyes are so blood shot that people think I am a drunk or on drugs. I am 59. The pain is horrific. Anyone in my situation?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 26 2013 at 5:31 am

I am sorry you are so lonely Michael. What if you try to see something different? What if you used some skills to see what else you can experience?
I am so sorry for your pain.
xo
Jodi

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Cheryl
July, 9 2013 at 9:54 pm

How about a routine physical activity I hate to sound but just raising a little sweat for more that thiry minutes really does cause the release of edophorins and it helps I am makeing a list of things to do when bored or lonely and cant find someone to talk to like cleanout closet dont for get music How brave of you to say I am lonely I have always been ashame of it thank you. lonely is different that depression

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Carolyn King
March, 29 2014 at 3:13 pm

Yes, I understand 100% - it is as if I posted your message myself. The light is coming - I just know it. Thank you so much Jodi - wish you were here in Bellingham, Washington so I could meet with you one one - Thank you for all the good you are spreading. Love, Carolyn

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 1 2014 at 12:05 pm

Hello Carolyn,
I'm so glad that you connected with this message. Jodi is no longer writing for HealthyPlace so is unable to respond to comments. All of us at HealthyPlace strive to make this a welcoming and helpful site and to spread good. Thank you for your comment, and we hope to see you back here.

Bridget J.
September, 1 2013 at 9:22 am

I think the author is writing about isolating, aka the unhealthy version of being alone. When we are depressed & feel as if we have no worth, we don't want anyone to see us, etc. It's a downward spiral from there. I do agree with Jodi, humans are social creatures. It is proven that getting out of our own head & making a connection with others benefits us spiritually, emotionally & physically. But, I don't care for the suggestion that if you are feeling lonely you should "get to another...as fast as you can". Yes, at first, you almost have to shove yourself out of that bad habit/comfort zone of isolating. OTOH, I believe there is a healthy type of aloneness. Learning to be comfortable with your Self, to truly care for your Self is a huge part of recovery (a path to health). There is the good type of "me time" where we recharge our batteries. Those of us who wear the hat of parents, spouses, nurses, teachers, etc can get into a bad habit of forgetting to take care of ourselves. We must remember to practice Self Care for our own mental health.

Bridget J.
September, 1 2013 at 9:31 am

Some people fear being alone. IMO, they're not yet self aware. The quiet brings them face to face with themselves (and they don't like what they feel or see in themselves). So they distract with noise. In the past, that's how I was. Workaholic, party-aholic, whatever-a-holic just to avoid the discomfort of being alone with Me! It has taken a lot of recovery work & therapy for me to be able to know when I am isolating, so I can push myself to get up, out & connect with the world. Conversely, I had to learn to realize when I need some alone time to recharge my batteries. And I had to learn to love myself enough to give myself good things. Becoming aware of all this doesn't happen overnight. I believe we are worth the effort it takes to understand ourselves & work towards being emotionally healthy. Thanks for sharing, Jodi.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

wendy
September, 16 2015 at 9:10 am

Bridget, you came the closest to how I feel, after being married for 28 years, being alone dives me crazy! Can't stand the quiet around the house so I am constantly out and about. ..it just works for me right now...I have been divorced for over 2 years and have tried quite a few relationships and for whatever reason, whether me or them it just hasn't worked out. ..occasionally,like today I start having anxiety REALLY bad about being without someone in my life and I get really depressed. ..thank god for girlfriends, but I would like to find a way to cope by myself for the long term and not depend on friends or a man to get me through. .thanks in advance for any advice. ..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tom H
August, 14 2016 at 12:52 pm

I'm very glad you at least added the "IMO" to denote an opinion. We all have a right to our opinions, but what you've shared has no empirical evidence other than the obvious, that some people are far more social than others. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, nor are the rest of us aware of the life circumstances or natural individual neurological and cognitive variations that might contribute to a higher affinity for companionship. I'm sure a lot of people suffering loneliness are tired of other people extolling the virtues of the way WE happen to feel and see life, as if because they don't feel and see life the same way they deserve to suffer. People are just different, not better or worse.

Gigi
October, 17 2013 at 9:06 pm

I journal a lot! Sometimes it's the only thing that saves my sanity; to get my thoughts out on paper. Sometimes when I read it, I answer my own questions or concerns!

Dr Musli Ferati
October, 18 2013 at 1:18 am

Indeed, this paper indicates substantial tools to improve and develop social skills, as important way to overcome the feeling of loniles. Moreover, this concern emotional experience provokes many mental difficulties with fatal consequences for global welfare. Therefore, it is of value to make attempt to deal with this emotional perturbation. Yours suggestions and recommendations exhibits great and useful choice. Beside these lessons it ought to explore in smart manner the social and cultural characteristics of milieu where respective person live and works. Without this remark, ours effort would be stranger and inappropriate for others. Above all, it remains the scertainment that we should be social active on fulfilment ours life needs.

Chris
October, 20 2013 at 10:15 am

I was divorced a while ago and finally found the love of my life or so I thought. Both of us had suffered depression and it was so comforting to be with someone who understood. I helped this person break a cycle of abusive relationships and have her everything I had emotionally and financially. However she suffered from anti-social personality and was a binge drinker. I thought she was recovering from all only to find she was cheating on me physically and emotionally. When I confronted her and kept getting lied to I threw her out.
Like your article pointed she felt she needed to do all the things she did alone and should not have needed help. She said she needed to find herself and stay out of relationships but she had already started another. She completely crushed me. I've never felt so used and humiliated and worst of all, lonely.
It happens all the time but I will never understand how people that are essentially the good ones get hurt the most. She is all over social media saying how happy she is and it's the same pattern she was in before. Now her new love is a recovering alcoholic and I am left empty and lonely wondering if true love even exists or worse, what is the point of life? To keep getting hurt? To continue running into walls.
Thanks for the article it explained a lot and helps.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2013 at 11:43 am

I am so sorry for you Chris! Even though it feels awful, you are better off without her. I hope someone who can appreciate you comes along soon! You deserve it! (We all do!)

ARTIST
October, 20 2013 at 11:54 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this post. It was interesting and at the moment you watch it, you absolutely won’t neglect it Very informative blog. I believe many may benefit from reading your weblog therefore I am subscribing to it and telling all my friends

Legina
November, 28 2013 at 9:17 pm

I have done some really dumb stuff out of being lonely. The thoughts listed in the above box is accurate. That is what a lonely person thinks. I am getting up in years and my children are all grown I wonder what life is going to be like. I really have to work on feeling lonely. I am starting to volunteer program for Faith Communities and mental illness and getting them connected to resources in their neighborhoods. I will not let loneliness win. I have come to far now. I will have bouts, but I won't let it get me down. (How did that sound? I say it enough and I will come to believe it. lol).

Susan
January, 10 2014 at 9:44 pm

How does loneliness, anxiety and depression fit together. I think I have all three. When I'm with people I get more anxious. Living alone without much funds after paying bills does not leave much for taking classes. And then there is winter and most roads bad for my small car. Help!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 13 2014 at 3:47 pm

You're not alone, Susan. Of course everyone is unique, but it is common for anxiety, depression, and loneliness be experienced at the same time. In fact, each can fuel the other. It is possible, though, to break out of this cycle. Of course it's possible to spend money on things like classes, and that can be helpful for some people, but that's not the only way to feel better. When it seems that there are obstacles (money, winter, etc.), you don't have to think of this as one giant thing that must be tackled at once. While depression, anxiety, and loneliness often go hand and hand, they truly are three separate things. Which one seems to be the most problematic for you? They are likely all troublesome, but think about which one feels worst. Concentrate on that one. If it's anxiety, for example, what makes it flare up? Then identify one thing that would improve it? If it's being around people, yet you want to be around people, approach it gradually. Do you have one person you know whom you'd like to know a little better? Could she or he come to your house (if your car isn't great in the snow) for a walk or a cup of coffee? Those are just examples. Start slow, pick something that works for you, and build on that. Just an idea. :)

Nikky44
February, 5 2014 at 11:15 am

"I can’t call anyone because I will be bothering them." Or what makes it worse is when you're not taken seriously

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 5 2014 at 11:35 am

To feel that you are bothering people or that you are not taken seriously are very frustrating feelings. Know that they are very common; you are not alone in these thoughts. Something you might want to consider is finding a support group in your area. People go to support groups to listen, be heard, and even to form positive connections. NAMI is a great organization that has groups in many communities. There are others, too. Finding a support group might be something you find helpful.

nichole
May, 9 2014 at 6:47 pm

my saddness is too much to take in sometimes....i have some family but we just dont connect the way we used to. My life isnt happy...the only thing that makes me keep going is my son who is 5.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 11 2014 at 1:13 am

Hi Nichole,
It can be hard to deal with changing family relationships/connections, especially when you're also living with things such as depression and anxiety. Having even one positive relationship in your life, such as that with your son, is very powerful. Focus on that, and perhaps you might even build on that to gradually build other relationships (with parents of other five-year-olds, for example.) It takes time, but you can create happiness. Perhaps others who read this post have tips about what they have done. If your sadness becomes overwhelming, it's important to reach out to someone in your community or online, such as helplines. It doesn't always feel like it, but it is possible to increase happiness. You already are taking charge by focusing on your son.

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